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Kopel on Pelosi

You really should read Dave Kopel’s (PDF) prepared testimony for yesterday’s hearing on the assault weapons ban. It’s absolutely devastating to the case for it, showing that it is nebulous, far-reaching and likely to be ineffective at best.

“Doing something” is the slogan for politicians who seek merely to exploit terrible crimes for self-serving purposes. “Doing something effective” is the approach of people who want to save lives and protect the public, especially children.

The lives of Americans, especially school children, depend on the choice that elected officials make between these two alternatives.

The Left is focusing on a fairly minor academic dispute about a study on the previous assault weapons ban. That dispute seems to me to revolve around the definition of “worked”. For most people, the criteria for the assault weapons ban working would be that it reduced crime. It didn’t, or at least it can’t be clearly shown (the data are a bit noisy and a LOT of policies changed in the 90′s). But to the gun grabbers, “worked” means it got weapons out of the hands of Americans. If it reduced crime, that’s nice but not really the point.

We can quibble about what the study found. But the reason so much attention has been paid to that quibble is because the rest of Kopel’s case is just devastating. As I said earlier, it is not we who have to justify our ownership of any particular firearm. It is the government that must justify restricting it. It just got a lot harder to justify an assault weapons ban; at least at the federal level.

31 comments

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  1. stogy says:

    It’s absolutely devastating to the case for it, showing that it is nebulous, far-reaching and likely to be ineffective at best.

    Actually, he has cherry-picked all of his data from the UK to make his case – violent crime has been falling there for most of the past decade, despite strict gun controls. It would have been more honest and convincing if he had included a discussion of that, and why his case still holds. The fact that he doesn’t marks this report as partisan politics rather than a real search for the truth.

    I’d like to see someone go through this whole report and offer counter-arguments to all the points. Unfortunately, I don’t have time right now, and some of the more technical firearm and legal aspects are not really in my area of expertise.

    The thumbs down arrow is just below here. Don’t let yourselves down now with reasoned debate or qualified arguments.. Just click ;)

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  2. Section8 says:

    The thumbs down arrow is just below here. Don’t let yourselves down now with reasoned debate or qualified arguments.. Just click ;)

    LOL

    Reasoned debate is he’s full of shit because I say so? I’d prove it but I don’t have the technical expertise or time?

    Anyhow, we’ve seen your reasonable debate.

    Guns = Guys getting drunk and shooting their wives. Just a load of shit. Yes it does happen, but what an abusive person uses to kill their family is irrelevant. It’s the abusive person that is the problem.
    Guns = Suicide even though there are countries with strict gun control laws the have higher suicide rates than we do.

    Every argument you’ve made so far has been emotional based with the idea that if you don’t support gun control you don’t care about the above.

    Just silly

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  3. Xetrov says:

    Actually, he has cherry-picked all of his data from the UK to make his case

    Yeah, the gun grabbers haven’t done that at all.

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  4. Hal_10000 says:

    Actually, he has cherry-picked all of his data from the UK to make his case – violent crime has been falling there for most of the past decade, despite strict gun controls.

    I’d like to see something on that, Stogy. He acknowledge that the murder rate is higher in the UK, but claims other crimes are more common.

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  5. stogy says:

    I’d like to see something on that, Stogy. He acknowledge that the murder rate is higher in the UK, but claims other crimes are more common.

    Just Google crime rates in the UK. It took me less than a minute. They’re falling in the UK just like they are across most of the developed world. Guns weren’t behind the rise in crime any more than they are behind the fall. Except perhaps that carrying gives police a nice excuse to lock up street thugs.

    Guns = Guys getting drunk and shooting their wives. Just a load of shit. Yes it does happen, but what an abusive person uses to kill their family is irrelevant.

    Thanks for raising this. I hadn’t got around to it, but yeah. Kopel left out domestic violence. Why do you suppose he would do that? Do you think if he had discussed it and made some good arguments why firearms were a good idea in domestic disputes it would have been a stronger report? It’s a no brainer – he left it out because it was an argument he was never going to wine and so it was better to cherry pick a couple of stronger issues rather deal with the whole kabuki. It makes the report partisan and not a solid piece of research.

    It’s the abusive person that is the problem.

    And it’s usually the innocent party that gets clocked.

    So what’s your plan to lower firearms deaths and injuries as a result of domestic violence without reducing the number of firearms? We already know that reducing the number of firearms works because it has worked in just about every other country in the world right? So if you don’t to reduce the number of guns you must have some other plan? Right? You do have a plan, don’t you?

    Actually, he has cherry-picked all of his data from the UK to make his case

    Yeah, the gun grabbers haven’t done that at all.

    No, you’re right, there is a fair bit of bunkum coming out of the anti-gun lobby. But this study is absolute drivel and does nothing at all to support your argument while it leaves out one of the largest groups of people affected by gun violence.

    I already realize that nothing I say is going to change your mind, and that’s basically because you like guns. So any data that comes up showing the opposite of what you desire is going to be laughed or talked away.

    It’s a perfect example of a confirmation bias.

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  6. stogy says:

    Reasoned debate is he’s full of shit because I say so? I’d prove it but I don’t have the technical expertise or time?

    The sociology of crime and the crime stats I know something about. Trigger locks, guns safes, and them watchemacallit things you load the ammo into are not. I am also not really up on all the proposals on gun law changes that have been flying around the past month or so. So I am not going to get into that.

    I have to work all weekend as it is.

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  7. Xetrov says:

    I already realize that nothing I say is going to change your mind, and that’s basically because you like guns.

    Like them? I Love them!

    BTW, you’re an asshat for assuming people’s responses before they give them. Also one of the big reasons you get thumbs down from me (since you’re apparently so concerned by them), instead of intellectual fact based responses. If you already know how I’m going to respond…sodder off.

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  8. Xetrov says:

    *sod off. (Damn edit button that doesn’t edit anything!)

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  9. stogy says:

    Like them? I Love them!

    BTW, you’re an asshat for assuming people’s responses before they give them.

    Xetrov – we talked about this in another thread a couple of weeks back. There was fairly general agreement here the commenters here liked guns. So I am no assuming responses from you, just picking up from where I left off.

    And every time I post on this, I get called out for using emotional arguments (“think of the children”) or accusing gun owners of not caring enough (“Every argument you’ve made so far has been emotional based with the idea that if you don’t support gun control you don’t care about the above”). It’s not emotional – it’s factual. The data clearly shows that lower gun ownership = much lower domestic homicide rates. It shows it over and over again. States in the US with higher gun ownership invariably have higher homicide rates, regardless of the strictness of gun laws and legislation. I posted links to this a couple of weeks ago, so I am not planning to again. This is no more an emotional argument than arguing the right to defend your home.

    You want to keep your guns and bring down domestic violence using firearms? Find another solution, but don’t whine to me that “they’re gonna take ouwa guns!”. It’s pathetic

    I asked for a balance sheet approach – costs of gun ownership vs benefits. That’s a report I would like to see. And without the cherrypicked arguments or data.

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  10. stogy says:

    Urban Dictionary: Sodder

    Sodder. from england, means fucker,

    Let’s go with the first one, shall we?

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  11. Section8 says:

    So what’s your plan to lower firearms deaths and injuries as a result of domestic violence without reducing the number of firearms?

    Yeah, the plan should be to just reduce domestic violence period. No I don’t have a solution to that, I have some ideas. Your idea, however, of punishing the VAST amount of people who DON’T abuse anyone by claiming ALL are guilty is ridiculous, and a warped ass view of the populous of our nation. By the way, you only seem to care about domestic violence when it involves a gun. I’ll just assume some guy punching her to death is just fine with you, and only when a gun is involved does it matter since now her sacrifice has provided you a statistic.

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  12. Iconoclast says:

    …violent crime has been falling there for most of the past decade, despite strict gun controls.

    And violent crime has been falling here in the States for several decades, “in spite of” increased gun ownership and not-as-strict gun controls.

    Harvard Study: Gun Control Is Counterproductive

    Gun crime continues to decrease, despite increase in gun sales

    RKBA: Crime down…gun ownership up, that can’t be right.

    From that last link, which happens to be Daily KOS:

    As of today, your chance of being murdered is lower than it was in the late 1950s, a time portrayed as being wholesome, peaceful and orderly. But low crime rates don’t fit the narrative.

    And (emphasis in original):

    The bottom line is that crime is down significantly, but there is no definitive explanation. We cannot point to one thing and say this is why crime is down. What we can say is that increased gun sales, increased gun ownership and liberalized gun laws have not resulted in an increase in crime.

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  13. stogy says:

    Yeah, the plan should be to just reduce domestic violence period. No I don’t have a solution to that, I have some ideas. Your idea, however, of punishing the VAST amount of people who DON’T abuse anyone by claiming ALL are guilty is ridiculous, and a warped ass view of the populous of our nation.

    Section 8, that’s because I see gun ownership as a responsibility at least as much as it’s a right. That doesn’t mean I treat people as though they are guilty, it means that as they are using a tool which is capable of causing death, that there are certain rules and regulations that need to be followed.

    Unfortunately, the second amendment has taken almost all talk of responsibility off the table.

    Iconoclast, I have seen the Harvard Study, and I commented on it before. It uses the same cherry-picked arguments as the Kopel report (and the data used has come under fire). You don’t compare gun laws with crime, you compare gun ownership rates with crime rates (from another Harvard study):

    In the first nationally representative study to examine the relationship between survey measures of household firearm ownership and state level rates of homicide, researchers at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that homicide rates among children, and among women and men of all ages, are higher in states where more households have guns. The study appears in the February 2007 issue of Social Science and Medicine

    And despite a rise in gun sales, the overall proportion of Americans who own guns is in long-term decline. So much of the recent increase (there has been a slight spike since the GFC) in sales means that fewer people are owning more guns. A person’s ability to commit a crime does not substantially increase depending on the number of guns they have (with a few rare exceptions, such as gun massacres). So fewer people owning more guns with a gradual long-term decline in the crime rate and a faster fall in the homicide rate?

    I fully admit that the causes of crime are complex and that gun ownership is not automatically causally related to crime rates. But there is fairly strong evidence that lower gun ownership rates result in lower and less lethal forms of domestic violence. Studies that leave out domestic violence are not studies at all.

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  14. stogy says:

    Unfortunately, the second amendment has taken almost all talk of responsibility off the table.

    I wanted to qualify this (but edit continues not to work). I am not saying that gun owners are irresponsible – most are. What I am saying is that the second amendment removes the issue of responsibility from the debate, and makes it all about rights.

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  15. Poosh says:

    Just Google crime rates in the UK. It took me less than a minute. They’re falling in the UK….

    This is false. At the very least it is highly debatable. Crime statistics are notoriously a minefield. You can find sites claiming crime has lowered. You can find sites claiming crime has risen. Claims that violent crime in the UK has lowered is quite frankly laughable, imo, but I suppose if you live in a middle class area and read The Guardian you might think Things Can Only Get Better.

    Britain IS as bad as some of you are starting to pick up on.

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  16. stogy says:

    but I suppose if you live in a middle class area and read The Guardian you might think Things Can Only Get Better.

    haha. That’s not what people usually say about Guardian readers. I enjoyed reading your piece on Judith Butler, btw.

    And who said anything about the Guardian? I used the most recent Home Office stats:

    Latest BCS figures showed no statistically significant change in the numbers of crime estimated from the 2010/11 survey (9.6 million offences) compared to the previous year (9.5 million offences), consistent with a flattening trend in crime. Overall BCS crime remained at its lowest levels since the survey was introduced in 1981. Police recorded crime showed a four per cent reduction between 2010/11 (4.2 million offences) and 2009/10 (4.3 million offences). This places police recorded crime at its lowest level since the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) was introduced in April 2002.

    and

    Homicide
    The latest provisional figures showed that there were 642 homicides in 2010/11 (up by 4% from 618 in 2009/10 and including the 12 victims of the Cumbria shootings in June 2010). Final homicide data, extracted from the Homicide Index,3 will be published in January 2012. Caution should be taken in looking at short term changes in homicide figures, as they can fluctuate from year to year. Although there was an increase of 24 homicides between 2009/10 and 2010/11, there has been a downward trend in the number of homicides recorded in recent years. These falls have followed a pattern of increasing levels of homicide (at around 2% to 3% a year) from the 1960s through to the end of the twentieth century.

    and on firearms and knives?

    Use of weapons
    Crimes involving guns or knives are always of great public concern and understandably attract a great deal of attention. The number of such crimes is relatively low in volume terms and in a general population sample survey such as the BCS the number of victims is too few to produce reliable trend estimates. Bespoke data collections from the police provide better information on the number of such offences but are limited in covering only those that have come to the attention of the police.
    Provisional5 figures showed that 7,006 firearm offences were recorded in England and Wales in 2009/10, a 13 per cent decrease from 2009/10 and continuing a downward trend seen since 2005/06. The provisional number of firearm offences in 2010/11 is 37 per cent below the number of offences recorded in 2005/06.

    On knife crime, in 2010/11 the police recorded 32,714 selected serious offences where a knife or sharp instrument was involved. Looking at comparable data,6 knife crime offences fell by three per cent between 2009/10 and 2010/11, following a drop of seven per cent the previous year. This finding of declines in knife crime for the last two years is consistent with recent trends from NHS ‘Hospital Episode Statistics’7 which have also shown falls in the number of hospital admissions in England due to assaults with a sharp object.

    Down, down, down seems to be the trend overall, except for people’s perceptions of crime rates:

    The 2010/11 BCS continues to show that the majority of people (60%) believe crime has risen across the country as a whole in the last few years. However, this proportion has fallen since the peak seen in results from the 2008/09 survey (from 75% and 66% in the 2008/09 and 2009/10 surveys respectively).

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  17. FPrefect89 says:

    I wanted to qualify this (but edit continues not to work). I am not saying that gun owners are irresponsible – most are. What I am saying is that the second amendment removes the issue of responsibility from the debate, and makes it all about rights.

    Yes. We have no responsibility. Just as if I fire my gun “accidentally” it is not called a negligent discharge of a firearm. Also, if that negligent discharge of a firearm happens to injure somebody, there could be a potential homicide charge added. That is just the criminal part of it. There is then the victim or victim’s family that will come after me for damages.

    Nope, no responsibility there.

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  18. CM says:

    stogy I get the distinct impression that Poosh gets his ‘facts’ primarily from The Daily Mail. He’s the very stereotype of a Daily Mail reader. Brooker decribes it here.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/13/django-unchained-jack-whitehall-james-delingpole

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  19. stogy says:

    stogy I get the distinct impression that Poosh gets his ‘facts’ primarily from The Daily Mail.

    No. I have to disagree. He reads around. There’s the Express, the Sun, The Daily Star. The Evening Standard. News of the World… oops. er shhhh The Telegraph… I keed. I keed.

    On a more serious note, Poosh’s Judith Butler piece was interesting (wrong, but interesting) and made me think there are in fact two Pooshs.

    I actually used to work for slightly a left of centre (sp.) broadsheet in England. Funny thing was, the management was as right wing as they come. Right fascists they were. And they treated us with complete derision. I had an awful contract and was basically told (when they could remember) at the end of each month whether I could come in tomorrow. We were just producing product and targeting a particular segment of the audience. But they didn’t actually care about the readers or the writers or any of us at all. They just worried about circulation and cash flows – completely opposite to what they ran on the front page.

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  20. stogy says:

    That’s a brilliant piece, CM! Thanks for sharing. The last but one paragraph had me just about falling off the chair:

    This is every day on Twitter, for ever. 9am: James Delingpole says trees are lesbians so we should saw their flat ugly tits off and fire them at Muslims using a petrol-powered catapult. 9.03am: An enraged section of Twitter spends nine hours ceaselessly promoting James Delingpole, to the delight of James Delingpole. 6pm: James Delingpole triumphantly closes his laptop and strolls away whistling, clicking his heels as a cartoon vignette closes around him.

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  21. Seattle Outcast says:

    stogy I get the distinct impression that Poosh gets his ‘facts’ primarily from The Daily Mail. He’s the very stereotype of a Daily Mail reader.

    Considering you get your “facts” directly from Daily Kos, who pulls them out of his ass, perhaps you shouldn’t be commenting?

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  22. stogy says:

    Considering you get your “facts” directly from Daily Kos, who pulls them out of his ass, perhaps you shouldn’t be commenting?

    SO check back up the page. It’s been five years since I last looked at Daily Kos until Iconoclast posted a link. Given your advanced reading skills, perhaps it’s you who shouldn’t be… oh never mind. Just say whatever you like.

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  23. CM says:

    SO check back up the page. It’s been five years since I last looked at Daily Kos until Iconoclast posted a link. Given your advanced reading skills, perhaps it’s you who shouldn’t be… oh never mind. Just say whatever you like.

    Yeah I went there once back when Moorewatch Forums was still going.
    Maybe SO found something at unskewedpolls (the very epitome of pulling stuff out of your arse) that says something different though….;-)

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  24. Seattle Outcast says:

    And yet you take the Kos line of idiocy disguised as reality on a daily basis….

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  25. CM says:

    And yet you take the Kos line of idiocy disguised as reality on a daily basis….

    And yet funnily enough you’ve never been able to demonstrate it because you’re always too busy with this sort of nonsense (when you’re not linking to unskewedpolls and setting yourself up for epic hurbris). ;-)

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  26. CM says:

    That’s a brilliant piece, CM! Thanks for sharing. The last but one paragraph had me just about falling off the chair:

    Brooker is great. His most recent is also worthwhile…..
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/27/justin-bieber-pop-idols-never-die

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  27. Iconoclast says:

    Iconoclast, I have seen the Harvard Study, and I commented on it before.

    Of course you have…

    It uses the same cherry-picked arguments as the Kopel report (and the data used has come under fire).

    Of course it does and of course it has…

    You don’t compare gun laws with crime…

    Of course you don’t…

    …researchers at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that homicide rates among children, and among women and men of all ages, are higher in states where more households have guns.

    Do you know what “homicide” is? It is any instance of one human being killing another, including accidents and self-defense. If an increased presence of guns increases the rate of self-defense homicide, I’m all for it, and I don’t give a damn whether you concur.

    …you compare gun ownership rates with crime rates (from another Harvard study):

    Nice misdirection there, stogy, assuming that all cases of homicide are crimes. No, again, some cases are self-defense, and not crimes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read the study and do any analysis, given that the link is bogus (it takes you to a generic “Press Releases” page, which does NOT seem to include your study).

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  28. stogy says:

    Of course it does and of course it has…

    Well it does. What do you want me to say? Do you think that you will automatically accept any study that confirms your cognitive bias while you reject anything that doesn’t.

    You don’t compare gun laws with crime…

    Of course you don’t…

    Well why would you, when they don’t relate to levels of gun ownership?

    Nice misdirection there, stogy, assuming that all cases of homicide are crimes. No, again, some cases are self-defense, and not crimes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read the study and do any analysis, given that the link is bogus

    Sorry about the misdirection. Here’s the full abstract:

    Abstract
    Two of every three American homicide victims are killed with firearms, yet little is known about the role played by household firearms in homicide victimization. The present study is the first to examine the cross sectional association between household firearm ownership and homicide victimization across the 50 US states, by age and gender, using nationally representative state-level survey-based estimates of household firearm ownership. Household firearm prevalence for each of the 50 states was obtained from the 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Homicide mortality data for each state were aggregated over the three-year study period, 2001–2003. Analyses controlled for state-level rates of aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment, urbanization, per capita alcohol consumption, and a resource deprivation index (a construct that includes median family income, the percentage of families living beneath the poverty line, the Gini index of family income inequality, the percentage of the population that is black and the percentage of families headed by a single female parent). Multivariate analyses found that states with higher rates of household firearm ownership had significantly higher homicide victimization rates of men, women and children. The association between firearm prevalence and homicide victimization in our study was driven by gun-related homicide victimization rates; non-gun-related victimization rates were not significantly associated with rates of firearm ownership. Although causal inference is not warranted on the basis of the present study alone, our findings suggest that the household may be an important source of firearms used to kill men, women and children in the United States.

    In the actual paper, they discuss the possibility of reverse causation, that dangerous communities have higher gun ownership because they are more dangerous communities (i.e. greater need for defense), however:

    Our study does not establish a causal relationship between guns and homicide. It is possible that a non-causal relationship explains our findings or that the association we observe might have arisen because individuals in states with historically high homicide rates acquired more guns (than did individuals in low-homicide states), as a defensive response to actual high homicide rates in their communities (i.e. “reverse causation”). This broad notion of reverse causation, while consistent with our association between household firearms and firearm and overall homicide, does not explain why firearm ownership is not also significantly associated with rates of non-firearm homicide. Furthermore, rates of robbery and aggravated assault are not associated with household firearm prevalence, even after controlling for urbanization and resource deprivation (not shown). Since individuals who obtain firearms in an attempt to protect themselves from violence plausibly respond to non-fatal violence (which is far more common than fatal violence), the lack of association between firearm prevalence and non-lethal violent crime militates against reverse causation as an adequate explanation for our findings. In addition, although several studies have documented that individuals obtain firearms for various reasons, including self-defense, almost nothing is known about whether the specific perceptions that motivate individuals to acquire firearms for self-defense have any relationship to actual homicide rates, overall or for any group

    This is also interesting, as it relates to higher levels of domestic violence uses of firearms in households:

    Consistent with findings from individual-level studies that found household firearm ownership was associated with lethal victimization of women (Bailey et al., 1997b; Wintemute, Parham, Beaumont, Wright, & Drake, 1999) and with studies that found a gun in the home was a risk factor for homicides in the home perpetrated by family members, intimates or acquaintances (Kellermann et al., 1993), we found that household firearm prevalence was associated with firearm homicide victimization of women in unadjusted as well as in multivariate analyses. Our finding from unadjusted analyses that women (but not men) appear to be at increased risk of homicide victimization from household firearms suggests that household guns may play a more direct role in femicides than in homicide involving male victims. Although direct information about the location of lethal shootings and the source of firearms used in homicides do not exist for our national data set, prior work on the distribution of homicide location by gender is consistent with this possibility. For example, findings from the Chicago Homicide Dataset (Block, 1987), found that more than half of all female homicide victims but fewer than a quarter of all male homicide victims were killed in a home.

    I am not saying this study is the be all and end all. They could be completely wrong. But it does a better more honest job of analyzing data related to firearms homicides than the Kopel study above. This includes caveats, reservations, limitations, and an acceptance that correlation is not causation. The Kopel “study” is pure political propaganda which leaves all of that out, and anything else that might obscure its objectives.

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  29. Iconoclast says:
    Of course it does and of course it has…

    Do you think that you will automatically accept any study that confirms your cognitive bias while you reject anything that doesn’t.

    You seem to be doing exactly that, which is my point.

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  30. stogy says:
    Do you think that you will automatically accept any study that confirms your cognitive bias while you reject anything that doesn’t.

    You seem to be doing exactly that, which is my point.

    This is a pretty lame response because it doesn’t actually attack any of the substance that I have been arguing in this thread. I haven’t actually expressed a view on guns here and I am pretty sure I didn’t on the other threads (although I could be wrong). You might think you know what my view on guns is but I am pretty sure that you don’t.

    My concern has been the quality or the evidence that is being used support pro-gun positions. And the studies are by and large rubbish – because of what they omit, they don’t even discuss arguments or ideas that might undermine their positions let alone offer reasons why those arguments are incorrect, they are strong on polemic and very weak on limitations and caveats, and they pull data out of their ass wherever it suits them. The Kopel study is one which does this. The Harvard study is another.

    I am perfectly willing to accept that there might be good studies that show that lives saved from defensive use of weapons outweighs the number of deaths from domestic homicides. But you haven’t shown me any. And you haven’t shown me any reasons why the study I quoted from above is wrong.

    That’s why your response is lame. You are no idiot and I reckon you can do better.

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  31. Iconoclast says:

    My concern has been the quality or the evidence that is being used support pro-gun positions.

    “Evidence” is irrelevant — either I have the right to protect myself or I don’t . The COTUS says I do have that right, and I will not allow “studies” to be used as an excuse to take that right away. Nobody seems to bleed about “evidence” when it comes to a woman’s “right” to kill her unborn child, and there have been millions of unborn children killed in this country since the passage of Roe v Wade. Science is just as political and prone to corruption as any other human endeavor, so I am not terribly confident about placing my God-given rights into the hands of an unbelieving, skeptical “scientific” community.

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