Monday, May 05, 2003
Oooh what timing. I was just discussing this exact subject earlier today. I said something very similar to this:
"It's time -- past time, some of us would say -- for defenders of gun rights to stop citing Lott as an authority. It should be enough for them that the current state of scientific opinion does not support the assertion that "shall-issue" has big public safety costs."I include this here as a matter of fairness. (Also as a matter of vindication that I've never cited his research because I did read his book and it rang a bit exaggerated to me at the time 3 years ago.) I wouldn't recommend reading Lambert's stuff because while he may be correct on some points he's a fanatic and I think overreaches just as badly as Lott in his efforts to discredit him.
This is what I say with regard to numbers elswhere on this site:
"A lot of people will spit all kinds of statistics and scenarios at you in an attempt to scare you. The pro-gun people will try to convince you that you must have a gun for self-defense because society is going to hell in a hand-basket and you have to be ready to fend off the wolves. The anti-gun folks will claim that a gun is more likely to kill a child than a bad guy. Both sides use statistics to lie.
Here are a few simple statistics.
According to the US Department of Justice in 1987-1992 the annual number of victimizations in which victims used firearms to defend themselves or their property during a violent crime was 62,200.
During the same time period the average annual number of homicides by firearm was 15,370. The number of accidental deaths was 1,449.
What it boils down to is that more people use guns to defend themselves from violent crime than are killed with guns.
End of numbers arguments."
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In utter exasperation at crap like this I've produced my own handy graph. There is absolutely no reason to lump 10 year olds with 19-24 year olds when you're talking about a behavior. I choose to believe that CBS does not understand that the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research is a political action group rather than an objective scientific body.
The only motivation to combine those age groups is to make it look like the 436 annual gun deaths in children under 15 are actually the 7,011 annual gun deaths for people 24 and under. Quite a difference in terms of public policy implications. At least 3,969 of those people could legally own guns. (The legal age is 18 so the number is likely much higher but the data isn't separated that way.) It's certainly different for a 16-year-old gang member to get shot versus little Timmy the neighbor’s 6 year old. It's also quite different if you separate out suicides. Suicides in kids under 15, while tragic and certainly the result of an adult's failure to store guns safely, are not something that anyone could claim to prevent by banning guns. (Check the per capita suicide rate in Japan, where guns are banned.) When you separate suicides the number of under 15 gun deaths drops to 326. Less than one a day. Nearly half the homes in the US keep guns. That's a much lower rate than the rate of child deaths by accidental drowning. (943 children under 15 in the year 2000.) Compare that with 86 accidental gun-deaths in children under 15 in the year 2000. It's a non-issue. Government intervention can't solve problems on that kind of scale.
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