Thursday, December 24, 2015


Fun With Math

In a stupid unsigned editorial in the NYT today, Republicans are attacked as fearing gun facts (it's the title of the editorial). Here are some facts:

1. Nearly two thirds of gun deaths in America are suicides, the rest are gun homicides and accidents and many of the gun homicides are justified by self defense.

2. The confiscation and destruction of 1/5 of the guns in Australia in 1996 had no long term effect on the rate of suicide, it merely changed the method of suicide (hanging replaced diminishing gun suicides). The Australian suicide rate surged after the gun confiscation and then declined but by 2012 the rate of suicide was again higher than before the gun confiscation, and still is higher.

3. Since their peak in 1993, gun homicides have declined by 49% here in America.

Now I can do simple math; so in the 22 years since 1993 the rate of gun homicides has fallen 49%, so that's 2.23% per year--on average across differential state rates. Some states have higher gun homicide rates than others and lower gun suicide rates and vice versa. Let's look at the NYT anti-gun screed de jour.

For nearly two decades, Congress has banned needed research on gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last week, Congress, doing the bidding of the gun industry, quietly killed a provision in the omnibus spending bill that would have reversed that ban.

Maybe I'm being too literal but doesn't the CDC research and help prevent diseases? And gun violence is in no way a disease, right? So preventing the CDC from wasting time and money researching non diseases is a good thing. Most if not all of the viral diseases are pretty much incurable once you have them, and all doctors do is treat the symptoms until you die or get well. And there are no vaccines for many diseases yet so it's not as if the CDC has nothing else to do.

And of course the legislators who are preventing the CDC from wasting time and money on non-disease projects are not doing what they think is right, they are mere minions of the evil gun industry. Man, the dark side is strong with those corporate entities!

In so doing, it left intact an anti-science smoke screen that has helped the industry and its lobbyists deny and dispute the facts of the gun violence that takes more than 30,000 lives a year.
No one who likes guns or values the Constitution (and amendments thereto) is denying any fact about gun violence. It's the other side which is sloppy with the facts. Like the editorial today. Let me explain: To my thinking, gun violence is an assault by another person using a gun which gun use wounds or kills the person assaulted. But that's only about 11,000 per year and falling or 3.257 per 100,000 which is not much (could be better and it's getting better). So the NYT inflates the gun death numbers with suicides (even though suicide is not a problem the left cares about; they are in fact pro-suicide and work to pass laws to get feeble people help in killing themselves--a prospect we on the right generally find dismaying).

So if you're talking about gun control legislation, which at its core is an attempt to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and crazy people in order to prevent gun murder and assault, adding in the suicide numbers to make the problem seem worse than it is would necessarily be anti-fact. Let me be more blunt. In order to make the problem (actual gun violence) seem worse, the NYT board is lying to us while it calls those against unreasonable gun control "afraid of facts." Hello, pot? This is kettle. You're black.

Perversely, the gun industry claims that research by private and academic interests — which it can’t block — is untrustworthy. Expect that argument to be invoked in reaction to alarming research about the Missouri General Assembly’s repeal eight years ago of background checks for gun buyers that required people to appear in person at the local sheriff’s office.

A study by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research found that in the first six years after the repeal, gun homicides rose within the state by 16 percent, while the national rate declined 11 percent.

The facts are indeed the legislature changed the law slightly (but purchasers from gun dealers, where nearly all gun purchases take place, still required the federal instant background check) and gun violence went up. What's missing from the study is a finding that the change in legislation caused gun violence to rise in Missouri. The guys doing the study warned the people reading it that correlation is not causation. Yet the NYT appears to assume that the study indeed found causation. Liars. It get's worse.

By contrast, it also found that Connecticut, which has maintained its 1995 background check law, registered a 40 percent drop in gun homicides across a decade.

OK, here is where I step in with math so bear with me. From 1995 to today is 20 years. 20 times 2.23% (the rate gun homicide has been dropping on average per year since 1993) is 44.6%. One would expect a 44% drop during this time but the Connecticut rate of gun homicide only dropped by 40% (less than the expected rate), but the NYT falsely holds out this statistic as proof that background checks prevent gun homicide when they do no such thing. Liars.

One study estimated that gun violence annually costs $8.6 billion in direct expenses for emergency and medical care. Wyoming, the state with the highest rate of gun deaths, also has the highest per capita costs for gun violence — about $1,400 per resident per year, which is twice the national average. A new area for investigation is the fact that gun deaths have begun surpassing motor vehicle deaths in some states.

This is utter bullshit. Wyoming has about 570,000 people and a gun homicide rate less than 1 per 100,000. That's not a lot in direct expenses for emergency or medical care for 5 people each year. Certainly not $642,000,000 which is what the NYT says. $1,400 times 570,000 is nearly 2/3 a billion dollars. Complete and utter bullshit. The reason the NYT can say Wyoming has the highest rate of gun deaths is because it has the highest rate of gun suicides in the nation. The rate of all suicides is 23.2 per 100,000 and 80% of those are with guns. But it has one of the lowest gun murder rates. Who's not dealing in facts about Wyoming's problem with gun violence? Nearly everyone has a gun and its gun homicide rate is one of the lowest in the nation. In what way is that fact helpful to the gun haters who want to confiscate your guns, America?

Private research is valuable, but in-depth federal studies are crucial for discovering the full patterns of crime and death fed by the relentless weakening of gun laws in recent decades.

OK, we know that gun legislation has been ever more pro-self-defense in the past 20 years or so. More and more states have relaxed rules against concealed carry while gun ownership has increased by a little over 1/2 (from under 200,000,000 to over 300,000,000). Yet despite "weakened gun laws" and increased gun ownership, the crime of gun homicide has fallen by nearly half. Yeah, let's do a study on those facts and see if there is any causation.

So having failed to mention the precipitous fall in gun homicides in the past two decades, and having dishonestly added gun suicides to the numbers bandied about when gun suicides is not the problem the gun haters are talking about (mass shootings is the current subject, the fact that they are less than 2% of gun homicides is lost on them), does anyone believe the NYT would support a study that could actually find that the so called weakened gun laws have caused a drop in gun homicides?

Wait, who is afraid of the facts, exactly?

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If you don't read Williamson's blog, you've missed a treat.

(Hint: on guns, he sounds a lot like you.)
I liked it. I have owned a Steyr M95 straight pull and many of the 5 shot discarding clip you load it with. I could never understand how straight pull of the bolt worked, however.
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