Saturday, March 30, 2013



The New Yorker is touting a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association which shows a clear correlation, state to state, between strong gun laws and less gun fatalities. Here is the study. It is a facile and specious waste of time.

I have to wonder first what JAMA is doing studying gun deaths and a perceived stringency of gun laws in the first place.

Then you also have to wonder why JAMA adds suicides by gun to the murders by gun to reach its conclusions. I'm not for suicide, of course; the Catholic catechisms tell us that the suicides spend eternity away from God, as they've killed someone without the possibility of Reconciliation; but I think it's worse for society that some people murder others. I'm more concerned with the greater harm here on Earth. So I think the only relevant study of the effectiveness of gun control laws (or its near certain ineffectiveness) regards crimes against others, not oneself and God.

And then there's the inescapable fact that adding in suicides helps the statistics give the conclusion that a progressive organization would seem to want, namely, that gun control laws seem effective. It's lonely in states with great big expanses of land but very few people. There is a double digit rate of proportional suicide in five states in America. They are all large states with few people. Is there a correlation there? I have no idea. I know nothing about what causes people to commit suicide. Here is the list:

Rank      State                        Suicide Rate (per 100,000)     Murder Rate (per 100,000)
25          Wyoming                  14.6                                       1.3
34          Nevada                    10.9                                       3.9
36          Montana                   12.8                                       1.8
45          Alaska                      14.4                                       3.2
46          Idaho                        10.8                                       1.1

The rank is the number on the list of 50 states awarded by JAMA for the severity of their gun laws. 1 is very severe indeed (Mass. with 1.7/100k murder rate) and 50 is nearly laissez-faire about guns (Utah with 1.1/100k murder rate). All of these five are below the middle of the list and all of them have very small to at least under the median for murder rates. Inclusion of the suicide rates raises the number of gun deaths in the bottom half of the less stringent gun law states, which is precisely what those supporting gun control laws want to see.

To be fair, the people doing the study point out five problems with the study and admit that they "could not determine if the greater number of laws were the reason for the reduced fatality rates." But the reporter for the New Yorker is pretty sure correlation is causation. He even does the study one better, assuring us that gun control works and he can prove it.

If American had gun laws like those in Canada, England, or Australia, it would have a level of gun violence more like that of Canada, England, or Australia. That’s as certain a prediction as any that the social sciences can provide.

Each of these countries had a heart breaking mass murder of no small size, at Dunblane (in the United Kingdom) at Ecole Polytechnique and at Port Arthur, and two out of three of them involved young students among the murdered. The stringent gun laws in each of these countries did nothing to prevent the tragedies. Nor did Norway's very strenuous gun laws prevent the worst gun mass murder (not during war time) on Utøya Island in 2011. You would think the prevalence of mass shootings of students in other lands would be some evidence of the failure of gun control legislation, but not to the New Yorker crowd and its ilk.

To them we're special in our murderous state and it's the availability of guns which is the problem not the depraved minds of the murderers. 


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