Saturday, March 30, 2013
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.
Labels: Gun Laws; Statistics