An Apotheosis of Garbage

In the wake of two horrifying mass shootings, Nicholas Kristoff has published a supposed guide to reduce shootings. He says it is the result of tons of research and represents a new strategy. But what it really is is a rehash of every bad anti-gun argument and junk science claim made over the last decade with a a few fancy graphs. It has little original insight and no original solutions.

We’ll start at the beginning. The first graphic puts out two facts: that the United States has more guns than any other country and that the United States has more murders than other developed countries.

I have addressed this argument before but it is worth rehashing. This comparison only works if you limit your analysis to guns. If you include all murder, no matter how they are committed, the connection completely falls apart.

Look at the statistics he cites. He has Sweden and Switzerland (countries that, incidentally, have high rates of gun ownership) at gun murder rates of 0.3 and 0.2 per 100,000. But while guns are used for about 60% of murders in the United States, they are only used in about 25% of murders in those countries. Would those gun murders vanish if we didn’t have guns? Or would people just murder with other means? You can’t tell from that data.

Here’s a comparison of the “gun murder rate” with the total murder rate.

US – 3.0 (4.9)
Italy – 0.7 (0.8)
Canada – 0.5 (1.7)
Sweden – 0.3 (1.2)
Germany – 0.2 (0.9)
Switzerland – 0.2 (0.7)
Australia – 0.1 (0.9)
England, Wales – 0.1 (0.9)
France – 0.1 (1.6)
Spain – 0.1 (0.7)
Japan – 0.0 (0.3)

Limiting his analysis to gun murders allows him to conveniently ignore 90% of the murders in France, 80% of the murders in Australia and the UK, two-thirds of the murders in Canada. The clear meaning of that graphic is that we had Japan’s gun laws, we’d have zero murders. I don’t see any evidence of that in the data.

His second section looks at the big decline in automobile deaths, which have resulted, at least in part, from laws passed mandating safety technology and cracking down on drunk driving. We’ll put aside the egregious comparison of something that is a Constitutional Right — the Right to Bear Arms — against something that is a privilege — the ability to drive on public roads. Here, he actually does have a point except … that gun murders have declined too. They’ve declined massively from the early 90’s peak, by at least 50%. And that has happened with gun laws becoming less restrictive.

His third point is that the gun death rates track gun ownership in states. This point was addressed in the links above. But notice a two-step he’s done here. In the first graphic, he was comparing murder rates. In the second, it’s death rates, which include suicides. Why does he do this? Mainly because including suicides would have blown up his point since supposedly idyllic Japan has an astronomical suicide rate. But again, when you look at homicide or suicide by state regardless of method, they don’t track gun laws at all. Just like they don’t with countries. Guns change the method but not the madness.

His fourth section ranks states by how well their laws are rated by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and argues that states with good gun control have fewer gun deaths. But … again … Volokh looked at this and found no correlation between total violent death rate and gun laws. The connection only works if you limit it to deaths involving a gun. Moreover, if you restrict your analysis to just murder — remember in the fist graphic, when we were just concerned with murders? — the relation completely disintegrates. Maryland is rated A on their gun laws. They have 5th highest murder rate in the country. Illinois has a B. They rank #4. Maine has an F for gun laws and has one of the lowest murder rates in the country.

His next point is actually legitimate. He points out, correctly, that mass shooting are a tiny part of our nation’s problem of violence. But then he says America is “moving in the wrong direction” because our gun law are getting less restrictive. But if America is “moving in the wrong direction”, why has gun violence dropped so dramatically in that period of time? Why has the loosening of our gun laws overlapped with the most dramatic drop in violent crime in our history?

He then cites two studies from Bloomberg Center for Gun Policy and Research. One showed Connecticut’s gun registration law cut murders 40%. I’ve talked about this study before. The study is highly dubious, taking one law in one state and comparing the result to “synthetic Connecticut” to show … something. This synthetic state method, by the way, is gaining popularity in gun control circles, primarily because it allows you to prove whatever you want just by changing what states you use for your controls. The other study looks at gun laws in Missouri and says gun violence rose after the laws were eased. While that’s accurate, it elides the fact that gun violence was rising before the law was passed and other states did not see similar increases. These studies are why I call that group the Bloomberg Center for Cherry-Picking. And both of these carefully cultivated studies are undercut by the massive overwhelming national trend of looser gun laws and less violence.

His last few points are semi-reasonable. He hits Congress for banning federal funding for research and says that proper training might cut gun violence. And while he’s right that majorities agree on some gun control measures, there isn’t a huge wave of support for them.

In a way, I’m grateful for this article appearing. It’s a nice distillation of every BS talking point, every garbage data manipulation, every deceptive claim that has characterized the gun control movement. It’s one-stop shopping for nonsense. If he’d only included ABC’s ridiculous “If I Only Had A Gun” segment, it would be perfect.

The NRA Ad

There are many reasons why, despite being a zealous supporter for the Second Amendment, I am not a member of the NRA. There is their support for the militarization of police and their unblinking support for police in all matters — as exemplified by their total silence on the Philando Castile matter. There is their response to school shootings, which involves putting armed officers in every school. There is their willingness to crush every other Amendment in the Constitution besides the one they like — especially the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. I can not abide an organization that says that the Second Amendment is necessary to prevent tyranny while happily allowing a tyrannical state apparatus to be put into place. And now there’s this, a deranged conspiratorial ad designed to make Americans feel terrified because liberals are saying nasty things about the President; an ad that seems to embrace police crackdowns on protest. These are not the words of an organization that is devoted to freedom. These are the words of an organization trying to cash in on fear. So I’ll side with them when they’re right on opposing gun control. But I can’t side with them on this nonsense.

This is one of the things that I have found bothersome about the Right Wing since about 2004. I understand being angry when your’e out of power. But the anger doesn’t seem to subside when we’re in power. If anything, it intensifies.

Why The Second Amendment Matters

Just a quick note today on a busy week. There are many reasons I support the Second Amendment. But the biggest is stuff like this:

The socialist leader of Venezuela announced in a speech to regime loyalists his plan to arm hundreds of thousands of supporters after a years-long campaign to confiscate civilian-owned guns.

“A gun for every militiaman!” Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said to uniformed militia members outside the presidential palace, Fox News reported on Tuesday. The Bolivarian militias, created by Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez, already number in the hundreds of thousands and are being used to supplement the regime’s armed forces. Maduro is boosting the number of armed supporters in hopes of keeping control over the country from what he labels “imperialist aggression.”

The arming of Maduro’s supporters comes five years after Venezuela’s socialist regime outlawed the commercial sale and civilian ownership of firearms. Only the military, police, and groups like security companies can buy guns and only directly from one state-run arms company under the law passed in 2012, according to the BBC. The country recently doubled down on its gun ban through a combination of gun buybacks and confiscations in the summer of 2016.

Venezuela’s gun control — which mimics what the Left wants in this country — has always been a disaster. Crime soared. And cops were being murdered for their weapons. But now we see the apotheosis — an armed militia maintaining control over a starving and disarmed populace.

Yeah, I know, it could never happen here. Sure. You keep telling yourself that.

Perspective

As usual, if you followed the media narrative this morning when the sad story broke out about another stupid attack at Ohio State, their speculation went one way, and obviously the wrong way. Before enough facts where out, and as this always plays out with the narrative crowd, the idiots writing articles and commenting at the usual lefty dives such as the HuffPro insane asylum called it all wrong. For this crowd, i had to be Trump supporting, gun toting assholes that are stealing America from the good-thinkers, like them, that obviously did it! More gun laws are going to be needed, and since anyone that is a Trump supporter has to be motivated by hate, racism, homophobia, and whatever other cool term the prog kids throw around to identify those ungood-thinkers, it had – it just had to be – one of them behind this sad affair.

Of course, us ungood-thinkers immediately knew that odds where we were dealing with another follower of the religion of peace, guns had not been involved – Obama was not ridding this to sell his sensible gun banning policies immediately, which was a dead giveaway there obviously was no gun play – as the initial reports mentioned a car and knifes, things followers of the religion of peace have been advocating should be used by their Jihadi recruits in the not so distant past. We also suspected that interest in this story would die out as soon as the facts came out, due to lack of interest in reporting on something that contradicted the narrative the left so desperately needs (don’t worry I am sure some DNC paid paid operative will commit some crime sooner than later that they all will try to blame on others as has been going on for the past year or more).

At least justice was dealt out and the bad guys where captured or killed. But with the narrative not flowing, I suspect this story will go away. Unless the left decides to ask for sensible car and knife laws. How much do we ant to bet that when someone points out the perp was taken down by someone with a gun, their response will be we need more gun control (read disarming law abiding citizens).

Gun Grabbing Fails

The Democrats filibustered the Senate until they got a vote on four gun control measures yesterday. All four failed:

Senators couldn’t muster enough bipartisan support to pass a series of gun control measures Monday, the latest in a long string of failed attempts at enacting tighter curbs on firearms in the United States.

Spurred by the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, senators from each party introduced the measures they said would have strengthened background checks and prevented suspected terrorists from obtaining weapons.

But tough election year politics, paired with disputes over the effectiveness of each party’s ideas, proved too powerful to break the longstanding partisan gridlock that’s surrounded gun issues for years.

The result was expected. A fifth option, set to be introduced and voted upon as early as Tuesday by moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins, has generated more optimism, but still faces long odds at passage.

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who sponsored one of the failed measures expanding background checks, reacted angrily after his provision was defeated.

“I’m mortified by today’s vote but I’m not surprised by it,” Murphy said Monday evening. “The NRA has a vice-like grip on this place.”

No, it really doesn’t. What has a grip on Congress is a fleeting minimal respect for due process of law. It wasn’t just the NRA that opposed this. The ACLU vehemently opposed it because the ACLU, unlike the Democrats, sees the danger in restricting basic civil liberties for “potential terrorists” through secret and nebulous FBI criteria.

The Collins bill is a little better in that it would only use the “no-fly” list. But even that list is secretive, vague and almost impossible to challenge. The Democrats know this because they’ve been complaining about that list for years. What’s more, they exposed those years of complaining as political opportunism, not genuine concern about civil liberties. Provisions were offered to reform the terror watch list, to make the process more transparent and to make it easier for people to challenge their placement on the list. The Democrats refused because they really don’t want a gun control law as much as they want a gun control issue for the election.

Remember when not compromising to get legislation passed was a sign of evil Republican unreasonableness and partisanship? Good times.

And just in case you thought the Democrats were the voice of reason here:

If I said opposing the Patriot Act empowered terrorists or opposing torture empowered terrorists or closing Gitmo empowered terrorists or ending mass surveillance empowered terrorists, Democrats would have a fit. But apparently it’s OK to say your opponents are terrorists when it’s gun control.

It’s kind of amazing the philosophical flim-flam the Democrats have pulled off here. As Lucy Steigerwald pointed on Twitter, passing gun laws is now considered an apolitical act, just “common sense”. The only people who “play politics” are those who oppose such laws.