I have two statistics for you to try to digest here:
- Due Process Causes 34% of Violent Crime Deaths: Professors Irving Schmutzler and Gretel LeTourneau-Bye-Spankowski-Overmeier have posted research showing that the delayed effects of due legal process for the accused – through criminals being released from jail due to unconstitutional searches and seizures, or the inability of police to search suspects’ property without a court warrant – eventually result in 36% of our nation’s violent crime deaths. “Criminals get a pass from going to jail, where they arguably don’t belong, naturally – but people die!” said LeTourneau-Bye-Spankowski-Overmeier, at a ceremony at which she and Schmutzler accepted a MacArthur Genius Grant. ” Perhaps it’s time we repealed the Fourth Amendment”.
- 22% of Statistics are Made Up: Including both of these.
It’s be completely absurd to abridge a civil right of law-abiding Americans because some Americans abuse, or mis-use, that right. Wouldn’t it?
Especially if the statistic were completely made up (or at least highly questionable)?
Yesterday, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press gave me a blast from the past; they printed a recycled Washington Post piece that cited a 1991 study by Loftin and MacDowell (from the U of Maryland) about the putative relationship between civilian gun ownershp and suicide.
And lordy, did it take me back down memory lane.
Back in the nineties, as the battle to pass “shall issue” laws around the country started heating up, Professor John Lott released a study, and then a book (More Guns, Less Crime) which pretty much gutted the opposition.
The gun grabbers ponied up study after study – the infamous New England Journal study,one from Johns Hopkins, others – and of course, Loftin and MacDowell. And like spring-loaded ducks at a shooting arcade, they got shot down, one after the other.
For years, knowledgeable gun control advocates stopped even trying to cite these studies (actually, semi-knowledgeable ones stopped; the truly smart ones dropped their mania for curbing our civil rights and joined the good guys).
So apparently the folks at the WaPo have short attention spans – or they think we do:
Seventeen years ago, two criminologists published a paper about the 1976 handgun ban in Washington, D.C. — a ban that recently was overturned by the Supreme Court as inimical to the constitutional right to bear arms.
After tabulating all the suicides in the district from 1968 to 1987, researchers Colin Loftin and David McDowall of the University of Maryland found the ban correlated with an abrupt 25 percent decline in suicides.
The two, who now work at the University at Albany in New York, also tabulated suicide rates in Maryland and Virginia over the same period to see if suicide rates just happened to be declining across that region. No difference was found in the suicide rate in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs before and after the D.C. gun ban.
The researchers also tabulated the types of suicides that declined in number in Washington, D.C., and found the 25 percent drop was entirely driven by a decline in firearm-related suicide.
Wow. Seems pretty dispositive, huh?
Of course, 1967-1987 seems like an odd time period to select – but hey, they’re scientists, they must have their reasons.
And they did. We’ll come back to that.
It’s almost encouraging that the mainstream media are mixing in an admission of legal reality…:
There are many ways to read the Second Amendment to the Constitution, but all interpretations point to a core idea: Americans have the right to own guns to protect themselves against outside threats, whether the danger comes from a school shooter, a vicious mugger, a robber breaking into a house, a lawless neighborhood — even the government itself.
…among the lies:
What the amendment authors did not foresee is the fact when people own a gun, they unwittingly raise their risk of getting hurt and killed. That’s because the odds they will one day use their gun to commit suicide are much greater than the odds they will use their gun to defend themselves against intruders or muggers.
That’s completely statistically false, of course; about half of all gun deaths in a year (15,000, give or take) are suicides. The FBI estimates that there are at least 80,000 defensive handgun uses per year, and they may be hopelessly low-balling; Gary Kleck at the University of Florida puts it in the millions.
And why did Loftin and McDowall pick that exact range of years?
Because it fit the thesis:
The most curious aspect of the Loftin study is the particular span of years which the researchers chose to examine. The study period covers the years 1968-1987, which can best be described as a “plateau” period, before which murder/non-negligent manslaughter(MNNM) rates (as measured by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports data) were much lower than during the period of study, and after which the MNNM rates in the District ballooned to record levels! (Ironically,in 1991, the very year Loftin, et al. published their work, the MNNM rate for Washington, D.C. had reached its all-time high.)
As a result, Loftin, et al. begin calculating their averages in 1968, which (coincidentally) is the year before a large jump in the number of MNNM recorded by the FBI’s UCR (195 to 287), and they end their study in 1987, just before another jump in MNNM numbers (anothercoincidence). In 1988, the MNNM number shot up to 369, from 225 in1987. Data from years which would contradict the conclusions of the study are excluded from consideration
Refer to point #2, at the top of this posting.
States with high rates of gun ownership — Alabama, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming and New Mexico — have suicide rates that are more than double the suicide rate in states with low rates of gun ownership, such as Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii and New York, said Matthew Miller, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health.
The difference is not because people in gun-owning states are more suicidal, it’s that guns result in many more completed suicides.
Well, no. A worldwide study by Don Kates and Gary Mauser showed that regional differences in suicide rates have much more to do with cultural differences than gun ownership.
Sweden, Japan and Finland have astronomical suicide rates by US standards. Sweden and Japan control guns tightly; Finland has among the highest civilian gun ownership rates Europe. Which is worse?
“The evidence is overwhelming,” said David Hemenway, a professor of health policy at Harvard. “There are a dozen case-controlled studies, all of which show the gun in the home is a risk factor for suicide for the gun owner, for the spouse, for the gun owner’s children.”
And in every case, the studies fail to control for the other key risk factors; the presence of a mentally-ill or chemically-impaired person in the home.
I could go on. Indeed, in past years, I have gone on, and on and on. If you dig back through the USENET, the various Minnesota Politics list servers, and even the archives of this blog, you’ll find novel-sized compendia of refutations of Loftin and McDowall (among many others). The data is less at hand these days, because…
…well, the good guys won. I – we, the people who’ve been plugging away at this debate for decades, now – don’t have to fuss as much about ephemera like Loftin/McDowalls (to say nothing of preliterate gunk like “are you gun people compensating for something?”, to which the answer is “yes, I am – I’m compensating for having to shift my brain into low-low gear to argue with a retard and his lobotomized question”). Now that the Supreme Court has cleared up the Consitutional question, we can move on to stuff that matters.
Like consolidating victory, sure.
And, while we’re at it, figuring out how to really help people in danger of suicide, rather than waste time and effort on politically-motivated ephemera.