THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED: I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise. …

THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED: I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise. Leah Libresco is a statistician and former newswriter at FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism site. She is the author of “Arriving at Amen.” Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me.

Source: THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED: I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise. …

Joe Biden Concedes the ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban He Wants To Revive Had No Impact on the Lethality of Legal Guns

Joe Biden, who just a few years ago was still bragging about “the 1994 Biden Crime Bill,” has since had second thoughts about aspects of that law, including its expansion of mandatory minimums and crimes subject to the death penalty.

Source: Joe Biden Concedes the ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban He Wants To Revive Had No Impact on the Lethality of Legal Guns

Mass Shootings Aren’t Becoming More Common

….When 22 people were killed in El Paso, Texas, and nine more were killed in Dayton, Ohio, roughly 12 hours later, responses to the tragedy included many of the same myths and stereotypes Americans have grown used to hearing in the wake of a mass shooting.
As part of my work as a psychology researcher, I study mass homicides, as well as society’s reaction to them. A lot of bad information can follow in the wake of such emotional events; clear, data-based discussions of mass homicides can get lost among political narratives.
I’d like to clear up four common misconceptions about mass homicides and who commits them, based on the current state of research.

….

Mass Shooters Are Male White Supremacists?
Early reports suggest that the El Paso shooter was a white racist concerned about Latino immigration. Other shooters, such as the perpetrator of the Christchurch, New Zealand, attack, have also been white supremacists.
Overall, though, the ethnic composition of the group of all mass shooters in the U.S. is roughly equivalent to the American population. When 22 people were killed in El Paso, Texas, and nine more were killed in Dayton, Ohio, roughly 12 hours later, responses to the tragedy included many of the same myths and stereotypes Americans have grown used to hearing in the wake of a mass shooting.
As part of my work as a psychology researcher, I study mass homicides, as well as society’s reaction to them. A lot of bad information can follow in the wake of such emotional events; clear, data-based discussions of mass homicides can get lost among political narratives.
I’d like to clear up four common misconceptions about mass homicides and who commits them, based on the current state of research.

….

Mass Homicides Are Becoming More Frequent?
Mass homicides get a lot of news coverage which keeps our focus on the frequency of their occurrence. Just how frequent is sometimes muddled by shifting definitions of mass homicide, and confusion with other terms such as active shooter.
But using standard definitions, most data suggest that the prevalence of mass shootings has stayed fairly consistent over the past few decades.

To be sure, the U.S. has experienced many mass homicides. Even stability might be depressing given that rates of other violent crimes have declined precipitously in the U.S. over the past 25 years. Why mass homicides have stayed stagnant while other homicides have plummeted in frequency is a question worth asking.

Nonetheless, it does not appear that the U.S. is awash in an epidemic of such crimes, at least comparing to previous decades going back to the 1970s.

Mass Shootings Aren’t Becoming More Common–and Evidence Contradicts Stereotypes about the Shooters

Race, violence, and prejudice

Clayton Cramer fielded a question from a journalist regarding the perceived increase in police shootings of armed black men.

I’ll send over a few questions if that okay with you… I really want to capture the increased incident of police and armed black men. Activist seem to believe there is racism at the core of these incidents.1. What was your response to the shooting of Jemel Roberson two days ago?

I confess that I missed this. The police officer clearly reacted too quickly and wrongly.

2. Do you believe racism is something that is a factor in these shootings?

I think it is important to distinguish between racism and prejudice. A racist would assume that a different race is intrinsically different or inferior, and often that is expressed as hatred. Many people have prejudices based on race, sex, or other identities that may not be associated with hate. There are times that those prejudices may have a rational basis when applied to unknown members of that group. Let me give you an example.

This is a pretty important point. In another discussion elsewhere with someone else, I felt the need to distinguish between “racial” distinctions and “racist” distinctions. Allocating more funds to treat sickle cell trait in largely black areas than elsewhere is a racial distinction, but not a racist one.

Many years ago, I was walking home from college on a pedestrian path that was pretty isolated. There was a 10 foot high concrete wall on one side, and a chain link fence with a stream and forest on the other. Ahead of me about 50 yards was a young woman also walking away from campus. There was no one else around. Because I was a bit taller than her, I was slowly gaining on her as I walked this path. After a couple minutes, I realized that she had increased her pace; soon, she was almost running.

My first reaction was, “Why is she afraid of me? I am a nice person; I will not hurt her. Is it just because I’m a man?” The answer, I am sure, was Yes. Nasty prejudice. But a rational prejudice. She did not know me. Effectively all rapists are men. That means that men are 2x as likely to be rapists as people in general: unknown men are a disproportionate risk. Few men are rapists; there were 124,000 rapes in America in 2015 (https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/tables/table-1) in a nation of 160 million men, and because rapists are usually serial offenders, there are probably far less than 124,000 men who are rapists.

What if she assumes the worst about a man, and he is harmless (like me)? She gets a bit of a cardio workout from trying to get away. What if she assumes a man is harmless and he is a rapist? The consequences may be quite severe. So her reaction qualifies as a rational reaction to her prejudice.

Regulate immigrants like guns?

I’ve seen articles describing what it would be like if we regulated cars the way we regulate guns. (Hint: car drivers would riot.)

I’ve seen articles describing what it would be like if we regulated guns the way we regulate cars. (Hint: gun control activists would have strokes.)

Now, a piece on LifeZette describing what it would look like if the Left treated immigrants the way they do guns.

Any horrific shooting that makes national news brings a predictable cacophony of calls from progressives for gun control. But what if the Left applied that logic to immigration?

We’d be hearing a lot more demands for “immigrant control” and “common-sense immigration restrictions.”

[snip]

There would be calls for banning immigration. Banning all immigration into the United States in response to crimes committed by some illegal immigrants would, indeed, be radical. And irrational. No serious person has suggested that sealing the border and allowing no more immigrants ever again would be a reasonable approach to immigrant crime.

Yet, the most radical of gun control advocates demand that approach for guns. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) called for reinstatement of a ban on so-called assault weapons, along with aggressive measures to remove existing weapons.

[snip]

Liberals would highlight sensational crimes by immigrants. The culprit is clear anytime someone shoots up a school or a workplace, according to liberals — guns. Progressives are far more circumspect whenever an illegal immigrant commits a high-profile crime, such as the recent murder of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts.

The blame in those cases, liberals preach, rests with the individual murderers; don’t dare suggest that all immigrants or immigration policy bear responsibility.

[snip]

There would be calls to close the immigration background check loophole. Liberals for years have demanded that Congress close the “gun show loophole.” This is shorthand for people being able to buy firearms at a gun show without having to undergo a criminal background check.

But it is not really a gun show loophole at all. The “loophole” has to do with people who sell their personal guns. Federally licensed firearms dealers must run the background check whether the sales takes place in a store or at a show.

The federal background check requirement does not apply to people who do not have firearms businesses but want to sell from a personal collection. (Some states do require background checks even for those people).

[snip]

Liberals issue no similar calls to close the immigration background check loophole, however. The United States admits roughly 1 million people legally each year, both through permanent immigration and on nonimmigration visas, such as those allowing foreigners to work or study in America. All of those foreigners undergo some type of background check.

But foreigners who come across the border illegally, by definition, evade all background checks. In fiscal year 2017, border and customs agents apprehended 415,191 illegal immigrants. Experts estimate that for every foreigner apprehended, one makes it through to the interior of the country.

 

Everybody’s Lying About the Link Between Gun Ownership and Homicide

Source: Everybody’s Lying About the Link Between Gun Ownership and Homicide

There is no clear correlation whatsoever between gun ownership rate and gun homicide rate. Not within the USA. Not regionally. Not internationally. Not among peaceful societies. Not among violent ones. Gun ownership doesn’t make us safer. It doesn’t make us less safe. The correlation simply isn’t there. It is blatantly not-there. It is so tremendously not-there that the “not-there-ness” of it alone should be a huge news story.

And anyone with access to the internet and a basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel can check for themselves. Here’s how you do it.

First, go to the Wikipedia page on firearm death rates in the United States. If you don’t like referencing Wikipedia, then instead go to this study from the journal Injury Prevention, which was widely sourced by media on both the left and right after it came out, based on a survey of 4000 respondents. Then go to this table published by the FBI, detailing overall homicide rates, as well as gun homicide rates, by state. Copy and paste the data into Excel, and plot one versus the other on a scatter diagram. Alternately, do the whole thing on the back of a napkin. It’s not hard. Here’s what you get:

This looks less like data and more like someone shot a piece of graph paper with #8 birdshot.

If the data were correlated, we should be able to develop a best fit relationship to some mathematical trend function, and calculate an “R^2 Value,” which is a mathematical way of describing how well a trendline predicts a set of data. R^2 Values vary between 0 and 1, with 1 being a perfect fit to the data, and 0 being no fit. The R^2 Value for the linear trendline on this plot is 0.0031. Total garbage. No other function fits it either.

I embellished a little with the plot, coloring the data points to correspond with whether a state is “red,” “blue,” or “swing,” according to the Romney-Obama era in which political demarcations were a little more even and a little more sensical. That should give the reader a vague sense of what the gun laws in each state are like. As you can see, there is not only no correlation whatsoever with gun ownership rate, there’s also no correlation whatsoever with state level politics.

But hey, we are a relatively unique situation on the planet, given our high ownership rates and high number of guns owned per capita, so surely there’s some supporting data linking gun ownership with gun homicide elsewhere, right?

So off we go to Wikipedia again, to their page listing countries by firearm related death rates. If Wikipedia gives you the willies, you’re going to have a harder time compiling this table on your own, because every line in it is linked to a different source. Many of them, however, come from http://www.gunpolicy.org. Their research is supported by UNSCAR, the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation, so it is probably pretty reasonable data. They unfortunately do not have gun ownership rates, but do have “guns owned per 100 inhabitants,” which is a similar set we can compare against. And we drop that into Excel, or use the back of our napkin again, and now we are surely going to see how gun ownership drives gun homicide.

Well that’s disappointing.

Remember we are looking for an R^2 value close to 1, or hopefully at least up around 0.7. The value on this one is 0.0107. Garbage.

….

So let’s briefly recap. Gun Murder Rate is not correlated with firearm ownership rate in the United States, on a state by state basis. Firearm Homicide Rate is not correlated with guns per capita globally. It’s not correlated with guns per capita among peaceful countries, nor among violent countries, nor among European countries. So what in the heck is going on in the media, where we are constantly berated with signaling indicating that “more guns = more murder?”

One: They’re sneaking suicide in with the data, and then obfuscating that inclusion with rhetoric.
This is the biggest trick I see in the media, and very few people seem to pick up on it. Suicide, numerically speaking, is around twice the problem homicide is, both in overall rate and in rate by gun. Two thirds of gun deaths are suicides in the USA. And suicide rates are correlated with gun ownership rates in the USA, because suicide is much easier, and much more final, when done with a gun. If you’re going to kill yourself anyway, and you happen to have a gun in the house, then you choose that method out of convenience. Beyond that, there’s some correlation between overall suicide and gun ownership, owing to the fact that a failed suicide doesn’t show up as a suicide in the numbers, and suicides with guns rarely fail.

….

Two: They’re cooking the homicide data.
The most comprehensive example of this is probably this study from the American Journal of Public Health. It’s widely cited, and was very comprehensive in its analytical approach, and was built by people I admire and whom I admit are smarter than me. But to understand how they ended up with their conclusions, and whether those conclusions actually mean what the pundits say they mean, we have to look at what they actually did and what they actually concluded.

First off, they didn’t use actual gun ownership rates. They used fractional suicide-by-gun rates as a proxy for gun ownership. This is apparently a very common technique by gun policy researchers, but the results of that analysis ended up being very different from the ownership data in the Injury Prevention journal in my first graph of the article. The AJPH study had Hawaii at 25.8% gun ownership rate, compared to 45% in IP, and had Mississippi at 76.8% gun ownership rate, compared to 42.8% in IP. Could it be that suicidal people in Hawaii prefer different suicide methods than in Mississippi, and that might impact their proxy? I don’t know, but it would seem to me that the very use of a proxy at all puts the study on a very sketchy foundation. If we can’t know the ownership rate directly, then how can we check that the ratio of gun suicides properly maps over to the ownership rate? Further, the fact that the rates are so different in the two studies makes me curious about the sample size and sampling methods of the IP study. We can be absolutely certain that at least one of these studies, if not both of them, are wrong on the ownership rate data set. We know this purely because the data sets differ. They can’t both be right. They might both be wrong.

 

Series roundup:

In the second article, we unpack “gun death” statistics and look carefully at suicide.

In the third article, we debunk the “gun homicide epidemic” myth.

In the fourth article, we expand upon why there is no link between gun ownership and gun homicide rate, and why gun buybacks and other gun ownership reduction strategies cannot work.

In the fifth article, we discuss why everyone should basically just ignore school shootings.

The sixth article presents a solution free of culture wars, and the finale isn’t about guns at all.