You’ll see a ton of links today to an article at Ars Technica with the headline, Guns at home more likely to be used stupidly than in self-defense. People are interested not because of the content of the article, but because of a trick the author used to see whether people are reading it before posting comments. He inserted this about halfway through:

If you have read this far, please mention Bananas in your comment below. We’re pretty sure 90% of the respondants to this story won’t even read it first.

The sentence was added after the article was published. That’s why the first three pages of comments don’t have any mentions of bananas. I wanted to post about something else, though. Here’s the first paragraph of the article:

This morning, a press release dropped that seemed designed to create controversy, given its title: “Guns in the home provide greater health risk than benefit.” The fact that it came from a relatively obscure journal—the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine is not indexed by the PubMed system, and has no impact factor—suggests it might be an attempt at getting some publicity. Studies on this topic are also extremely challenging, as it’s difficult to control for cultural and economic differences between nations and US states.

Why does this review, written by a Harvard faculty member who specializes in this area, appear in a marginal journal? The New York Times published the answer to that question back in January:

In the wake of the shootings in Tucson, the familiar questions inevitably resurfaced: Are communities where more people carry guns safer or less safe? Does the availability of high-capacity magazines increase deaths? Do more rigorous background checks make a difference?

The reality is that even these and other basic questions cannot be fully answered, because not enough research has been done. And there is a reason for that. Scientists in the field and former officials with the government agency that used to finance the great bulk of this research say the influence of the National Rifle Association has all but choked off money for such work.