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Free Minds & Free Markets

You Know Less Than You Think About Guns

The misleading uses, flagrant abuses, and shoddy statistics of social science about gun violence

Woman with gunPaul Chesley/Getty Images"There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America," President Barack Obama proclaimed after the October mass shooting that killed 10 at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. "So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don't work—or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns—is not borne out by the evidence."

In this single brief statement, Obama tidily listed the major questions bedeviling social science research about guns—while also embodying the biggest problem with the way we process and apply that research. The president's ironclad confidence in the conclusiveness of the science, and therefore the desirability of "common-sense gun safety laws," is echoed widely with every new mass shooting, from academia to the popular press to that guy you knew from high school on Facebook.

In April 2015, the Harvard gun-violence researcher David Hemenway took to the pages of the Los Angeles Times to declare in a headline: "There's scientific consensus on guns—and the NRA won't like it." Hemenway insisted that researchers have definitively established "that a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place to be...that guns are not used in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime...and that the change to more permissive gun carrying laws has not reduced crime rates." He concludes: "There is consensus that strong gun laws reduce homicide."

But the science is a lot less certain than that. What we really know about the costs and benefits of private gun ownership and the efficacy of gun laws is far more fragile than what Hemenway and the president would have us believe.

More guns do not necessarily mean more homicides. More gun laws do not necessarily mean less gun crime. Finding good science is hard enough; finding good social science on a topic so fraught with politics is nigh impossible. The facts then become even more muddled as the conclusions of those less-than-ironclad academic studies cycle through the press and social media in a massive game of telephone. Despite the confident assertions of the gun controllers and decades of research, we still know astonishingly little about how guns actually function in society and almost nothing at all about whether gun control policies actually work as promised.

Do More Guns Mean More Homicides?

"More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history," New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote on August 26, 2015, just after the grisly on-air murder of two television journalists in Virginia. It's a startling fact, and true.

But do the number of guns in circulation correlate with the number of gun deaths? Start by looking at the category of gun death that propels all gun policy discussion: homicides. (Gun suicides, discussed further below, are a separate matter whose frequent conflation with gun crime introduces much confusion into the debate.)

In 1994 Americans owned around 192 million guns, according to the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice. Today, that figure is somewhere between 245 and 328 million, though as Philip J. Cook and Kristin A. Goss in their thorough 2014 book The Gun Debate: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press) wisely concluded, "the bottom line is that no one knows how many firearms are in private hands in the United States." Still, we have reason to believe gun prevalence likely surpassed the one-gun-per-adult mark early in President Barack Obama's first term, according to a 2012 Congressional Research Service report that relied on sales and import data.

Yet during that same period, per-capita gun murders have been cut almost in half.

One could argue that the relevant number is not the number of guns, but the number of people with access to guns. That figure is also ambiguous. A Gallup poll in 2014 found 42 percent of households claiming to own a gun, which Gallup reports is "similar to the average reported to Gallup over the past decade." But those looking for a smaller number, to downplay the significance of guns in American life, can rely on the door-to-door General Social Survey, which reported in 2014 that only 31 percent of households have guns, down 11 percentage points from 1993's 42 percent. There is no singular theory to explain that discrepancy or to be sure which one is closer to correct—though some doubt, especially as gun ownership continues to be so politically contentious, that people always reliably report the weapons they own to a stranger literally at their door.

The gun murder rate in 1993 was 7.0 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (Those reports rely on death certificate reporting, and they tend to show higher numbers than the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program, though both trend the same.) In 2000 the gun murder rate per 100,000 was 3.8. By 2013, the rate was even lower, at 3.5, though there was a slight upswing in the mid-00s.

This simple point—that America is awash with more guns than ever before, yet we are killing each other with guns at a far lower rate than when we had far fewer guns—undermines the narrative that there is a straightforward, causal relationship between increased gun prevalence and gun homicide. Even if you fall back on the conclusion that it's just a small number of owners stockpiling more and more guns, it's hard to escape noticing that even these hoarders seem to be harming fewer and fewer people with their weapons, casting doubt on the proposition that gun ownership is a political crisis demanding action.

In the face of these trend lines—way more guns, way fewer gun murders—how can politicians such as Obama and Hillary Clinton so successfully capitalize on the panic that follows each high profile shooting? Partly because Americans haven't caught on to the crime drop. A 2013 Pew Research Poll found 56 percent of respondents thought that gun crime had gone up over the past 20 years, and only 12 percent were aware it had declined.

Do Gun Laws Stop Gun Crimes?

The same week Kristof's column came out, National Journal attracted major media attention with a showy piece of research and analysis headlined "The States With The Most Gun Laws See The Fewest Gun-Related Deaths." The subhead lamented: "But there's still little appetite to talk about more restrictions."

Critics quickly noted that the Journal's Libby Isenstein had included suicides among "gun-related deaths" and suicide-irrelevant policies such as stand-your-ground laws among its tally of "gun laws." That meant that high-suicide, low-homicide states such as Wyoming, Alaska, and Idaho were taken to task for their liberal carry-permit policies. Worse, several of the states with what the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence considers terribly lax gun laws were dropped from Isenstein's data set because their murder rates were too low!

Another of National Journal's mistakes is a common one in gun science: The paper didn't look at gun statistics in the context of overall violent crime, a much more relevant measure to the policy debate. After all, if less gun crime doesn't mean less crime overall—if criminals simply substitute other weapons or means when guns are less available—the benefit of the relevant gun laws is thrown into doubt. When Thomas Firey of the Cato Institute ran regressions of Isenstein's study with slightly different specifications and considering all violent crime, each of her effects either disappeared or reversed.

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  • Monty Crisco||

    There once was a girl from Brighton
    Whose boyfriend said "My, that's a tight one"
    She said "You poor soul"
    "You've got the wrong hole"
    "But there's plenty of room in the right one!"

  • UnCivilServant||

    Rhymed a word with itself - no points.

  • Monty Crisco||

    SHIT!!! I just made that point yesterday!! But - in my defense - I was rhyming "tight one" with "right one" .... not "one" and "one".

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it....

  • Libertarian||

    Ats a right proper rhyme, that is. You're rhyming two syllables (i.e. Brighton) and you get FULL CREDIT.

  • Monty Crisco||

    YAY ME!!!

  • sarcasmic||

    Thief.

  • Rockabilly||

    This is my rifle
    This is my gun
    This is for shootin'
    This is for fun.

  • WTF||

    We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths.

    Does this asshole even have the ability to make a statement without lying?

  • Monty Crisco||

    THE SOCIAL SCIENCE IS SETTLED!!!! WHY DO YOU WANT CHILDREN TO DIE?!?!?!

  • UnCivilServant||

    Because Planned Parenthood Profits depend on it?

    /not really my position.

  • Monty Crisco||

    Still a good point, tho. As we know, immigration and abortion are the two areas where us *libertarian-like creatures* will never agree....

  • UnCivilServant||

    I think it might be easier to cover those topics where there is agreement. Judging by the ven-diagram of opinion sets on this commentariat (troll outliers removed) I think the only overlap can be summed up in the repeated refrain "fuck you, cut spending".

  • Monty Crisco||

    Ironic that two government employees agree on that...

  • some guy||

    How can you be a libertarian while working for the government, or accepting any government benefits, such as roads, utilities, etc.?

    /troll outlier

  • UnCivilServant||

    A: I'm not a libertarian. I'm a fiscal and social conservative.

    B: It's a job. I provide a service, they pay me, just like any other employer. Also, there's nothing that says an employee cannot be critical of the actions or policies of their employer, public or private. (unless you're a spokesperson and you have a contract where your job is shilling said employer, etc. But I work in IT).

    C: If the roads, and utilities were not a government-backed monopoly, I'd have the ability to do business with someone else. As it stands we're forbidden from having the choice.

  • UnCivilServant||

    yes, I know your comment was snark, but I felt compelled to answer it.

  • Monty Crisco||

    Hey, man. Whatever helps you sleep at night. You don't even want to know what I do for the government....but I'm still a libertarian!

  • UnCivilServant||

    You're our NSA plant?

  • Monty Crisco||

    And if I was would you hold it against me?!?!

  • dchang0||

    Well put, although I personally chose never to work as a gov't employee after having worked for them before. The deciding moment was when my bureaucrat boss told me to go buy a $10,000 printer for $30,000 so that we could use up our budget and not lose it the next year. I wondered: if my department is doing this, how many other departments are doing this, and how much taxpayer money are they wasting overall? Can I be a part of this wholesale waste and look at myself in the mirror every morning?

    The answer for me is no.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    So is muck at the bottom of a lake, and dead fish, and the Titanic.

  • some guy||

    Lies. Damned lies. And Statistics. He makes sure to cram all three into each and every statement he makes.

  • ||

    "We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths."

    We also know that large cities like Chicago where gun laws are the strongest have more gun deaths on any given weekend than rural areas have in a year.

    I live in a rural Louisiana parish. We had no gun deaths last year, or the year before. In fact our last shooting was in 2011 and no one was killed. How many shootings were there in Chicago last weekend? D.C.? New Orleans?

    You can count on gun grabbers to lie like you can count on the sunrise.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    Before guns were invented, there were zero gun deaths.

    However, there was far from a lack of violence or death of any kind.

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    Before guns were invented, there were zero gun deaths.

    And lo, there was a great silence across the land as each progressive knelt and pondered a previously unconsidered truth.

  • Hank Phillips||

    There was no income tax before there were guns. The income tax of 1848 in the Communist Manifesto requires men with guns to go out and collect the tax, as belabored by Lysander Spooner. Ergo, no guns, no income tax. Whose side are the sensitive, concerned and aware progressive socialists on, anyway?

  • BambiB||

    I've been following the Second Amendment debate fairly closely since about 1978. Almost nothing in this article was new to me - but I give the author props for a good job on covering most of the bases.

    One he missed had to do with his statement, "...we have no idea about the end of the causal chain of speculations about how such laws affect crime: what potential criminals believe about how many citizens are carrying guns."

    If he would locate research done by Wright and Rossi for the DOJ, he should find a survey of convicted felons who were asked about their response to armed citizens. Significant number of criminals (in most cases 25% to more than 50%) agreed that "a smart criminal tries to find out if his intended victim is armed", "were more afraid of armed citizens than police" and had "aborted an intended crime because they thought their intended victim might be armed".

    The author also missed what I believe is the strongest causal link between guns and murder. Blacks are 13% of the nation's population, but commit 51% of all murders. I suspect (but have been unable to locate supporting data) that the vast majority of this murder and mayhem stems from the illegal drug trade. In short, I believe that, just as prohibition gave us drive-by shootings with shotguns and machine-guns, so modern-day prohibition gives us a much higher murder rate than we would otherwise see. I believe the homicide rate would drop MORE than 50% if we legalized drugs. (cont)

  • BambiB||

    I've been following the Second Amendment debate fairly closely since about 1978. Almost nothing in this article was new to me - but I give the author props for a good job on covering most of the bases.

    One he missed had to do with his statement, "...we have no idea about the end of the causal chain of speculations about how such laws affect crime: what potential criminals believe about how many citizens are carrying guns."

    If he would locate research done by Wright and Rossi for the DOJ, he should find a survey of convicted felons who were asked about their response to armed citizens. Significant number of criminals (in most cases 25% to more than 50%) agreed that "a smart criminal tries to find out if his intended victim is armed", "were more afraid of armed citizens than police" and had "aborted an intended crime because they thought their intended victim might be armed".

    The author also missed what I believe is the strongest causal link between guns and murder. Blacks are 13% of the nation's population, but commit 51% of all murders. I suspect (but have been unable to locate supporting data) that the vast majority of this murder and mayhem stems from the illegal drug trade. In short, I believe that, just as prohibition gave us drive-by shootings with shotguns and machine-guns, so modern-day prohibition gives us a much higher murder rate than we would otherwise see. I believe the homicide rate would drop MORE than 50% if we legalized drugs. (cont)

  • Fmontyr||

    Sorry, BambiB, even repeating yourself doesn't make you comment right.

  • BambiB||

    Not being a consumer of illegal drugs, I don't know what the current street value of an ounce of pure cocaine would be. Several decades back, an inventory of a military medical clinic showed pharmaceutically pure cocaine listed at $20 per ounce. Even assuming the cost to produce is 5 times as great, and that the street price of an ounce of pure cocaine is less than $2000, we're talking about a profit of more than $20,000 for smuggling a pound of cocaine. One the open market, we might expect prices as low as $200 - and remember, that's a 5-factor adjustment for a product that was already more expensive (since purification to that level is not needed for recreational use).

    So not only could we radically reduce the violence associated with staking out drug turf, we could drastically reduce property crime. A one ounce per week habit that cost $2000 today could be funded, not by breaking into people's homes and robbing them, but by working a day or two at a minimum-wage job.

    Then there are the huge savings in enforcement costs, jails, police, courts - and substantial rollback of the police state powers associated with the "War on drugs (civil liberties)".

    The use of firearms in crime is not the problem. It's a symptom of a different problem.

  • retiredfire||

    Aside from the fact that gangs, which we are told exist because the utes have no family to turn to, fight to protect their turf as a commercial enterprise, because of the drug trade, if they didn't make huge bank from said trade, they wouldn't be able to afford the guns they use to kill each other.
    The prohibitionist impulse is a kind of circular logic.

  • JohnD||

    Of course not. He can't open his pie hole without telling a ie.

  • Alice Adderton||

    Right from the start, even the word "We" is a lie!

  • Adans smith||

    Good morning.

  • Monty Crisco||

    Also, GREAT article by Doherty...

  • cavalier973||

    No kidding...I laughed, I cried, I raged, and I rejoiced. "The Force Awakens and Gets a Cuppa" isn't as good as this article.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Article?

    There are articles on reason?

  • cavalier973||

    They are the non-essential filler before the comments.

    Sort of like a salad before your steak and baked potato.

  • Tejicano||

    Well, yeah. But nobody actually reads them.

    ...Do they?

  • retiredfire||

    You start, but then it gets boring, so once you have the gist:
    On to the comments!

  • some guy||

    This might be the biggest Tony signal in recent memory. Hopefully he had to call in sick today.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The bottom line is that statists like Barack Obama don't want Americans to do for themselves. The state knows better than you your wants and needs, and what is required of you to contribute to the health of the state. For you to be able to defend yourself against an aggressive fellow citizen means you could also defend yourself against state agents coming with your orders. The more we rely on the state for anything, the more power it has. Central planning requires powerful hand and fails when the chess pieces can resist their moves around the board. Armed chess pieces are especially troublesome.

    It's easy to paint those who correctly make the 2nd Amendment about a check on government power as crazies, because most people are ignorant of the history of powerful governments or incorrectly believe that this powerful government will stop at their doorstep.

    So we will continue to get lies and obfuscations about guns because they know that the 2nd Amendment is the greatest barrier we have against successful central planning.

  • Adans smith||

    It seems to me,with the antics of those in the Secret Service,maybe they need to be disarmed. Coke ,alcohol ,hookers and guns are not a good mix.

  • SugarFree||

    Coke ,alcohol ,hookers and guns are not a good mix.

    But it does make for a helluva Saturday night.

  • cavalier973||

    Coke ,alcohol ,hookers and guns are not a good mix.

    I don't think you are a True Libertarian.

  • F. Christmas Ape, Jr.||

    Hey, he didn't say one word about ass sex, weed, or Mexicans.

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    But it would make for a great convenience store.

  • Monty Crisco||

    This brings up a point I have been meaning to address, Fist. We all know the quote from Solzhenitsyn about " “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?..."

    But - and this may be off topic - someone in the commentariat here brought up that it is this very same sentiment - a sentiment that we all approve of - that the cops use to justify murdering citizens with impunity because "they don't have to risk their lives just to determine if it was a cell phone or a gun!"

    How do we still agree with Solzhenitsyn's quote and still logically call for police reform? If our sentiments are in agreement with the quote, aren't cops justified in being the pants-shitting pussies that murder children?

  • Tejicano||

    I would say there is a qualitative difference between the kind of Gestapo/Statsi agent who rounds up adults for political crimes and simply out of control cops who escalate situations with under-age people who don't have the understanding or self-control of a mature adult.

    The former are enforcing the rules of a police state where the "crimes" they enforce are understood by all even if they might not have true legitimacy.

    The latter just don't seem to think they have to make room for people who might not expect - through lack of maturity, experience, or understanding - that they are about to be shot.

  • ||

    They're not justified in feeling that scared if they're not actually threatened, and they're not.

  • Monty Crisco||

    Nikki, you're gonna have a hard time convincing THEM of that when it has been an integral part of their rookie training for DECADES...

  • Auric Demonocles||

    No. If you're scared of that, either don't fuck up or don't become a cop.

  • R C Dean||

    How do we still agree with Solzhenitsyn's quote and still logically call for police reform?

    Something like "Your cop tribe will continue to get gunned down by armed citizens unless and until they reform"?

    There aren't enough SWAT teams, and never will be, to send a fully gunned-up squad every time a door needs kicking down.

    The critical piece that would accelerate this badly-needed rebalancing is laws and/or juries who recognize that citizens have a right to defend themselves against cops.

  • Karl Hungus||

    The critical piece that would accelerate this badly-needed rebalancing is laws and/or juries who recognize that citizens have a right to defend themselves against cops.

    Or, perhaps just as good, juries who understand that citizens have a right to defend themselves from cops, regardless of any laws to the contrary, and recognize that they're empowered to recognize this right, regardless of a judge's instructions to the contrary.

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    I think the essence of the reform at least I'm looking to see has to do with a change in the nature of the relationship between police and non-police, specifically the power dynamic. Currently, police are the authority, and non-police essentially have to hope that police behave in a fair, just manner. Ideally, and I think you get this in a situation where police don't have a monopoly on force, police should behave as disinterested third-party mediators and as the defenders of last resort. Frankly, if someone is legally empowered to use deadly force against someone outside the scope of self-defense, that person's power should absolutely be tempered by the cost of possibly being killed. If you're willing to use lethal force to prevent someone from selling loose cigarettes, for example, the calculus of the decision changes once real personal risk enters the equation, and I believe that's as it should be.

  • JohnD||

    You are undoubtedly the most ignorant fool that posts here.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    This is correct, not only because of the direct power of resistance afforded by being armed but also because someone who provides for his own self-defense tends to an annoying habit of taking care of himself in other ways. We are skeptical of state intervention in all areas of life. The progs find our lack of faith disturbing.

  • ||

    i.e. Central planners know they cannot enact their preferred policies with an armed populace. That really says all we need to know about those policies.

  • Tionico||

    yup. the kinyun and his minions have a strong policy standard: thy government is thy god and thou shalt have no other gods before it. And individual subjects of that god must never be allowed the priviledge of making their own decisions, nor of taking responsibility for their own lives.

    They fail to comprehend that that much hated Second declares that "the security of a free state" rests on "the people". Clearly NOT on government, as god or otherwise. Nor on military nor police nor........

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    I'd really like to see a study that removed the top 10% of counties per population density and showed the homicide and violent crime rates of the remaining 90% compared to the counties removed.

    I'm willing to bet the homicide rate is at least 4x higher in the removed counties than in the remaining 90%.

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    And I bet the laws in place in the states don't cause much variance in crime rates when compared to population density.

  • UnCivilServant||

    The actual correlation appears to be poverty and population density, not strict density. The more poor people piled on top of each other, the worse the crime gets (almost exponentially so).

  • UnCivilServant||

    Looking at the rough statistics I noticed something interesting. There is a rapid drop-off in density within the top ten territories. (Several of these are subordinate components of other states, but the shape of that curve is impressive) Numbers are persons per square mile:

    1 Macau (China) 54,970
    2 Monaco 48,951
    3 Singapore 19,935
    4 Hong Kong (China) 17,019
    5 Gibraltar (UK) 11,007
    6 Vatican City 4,709
    7 Bahrain 4,224
    8 Malta 3,421
    9 Bermuda (UK) 3,139
    10 Bangladesh 2,871

    As a comparison:

    182 United States 85.02

  • Tejicano||

    One bone I have to pick with this - while, yes, the headcount per square mile for the US is 85.02 there are very few Americans who live in areas which are that unpopulated. It would make more sense to calculate the average local population density for each American.

    Look at it this way - if somehow Singapore gained ownership of Antarctica would the average Singaporean suddenly have more living space?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Yes, I was going to add another point for NYC at 27,000 p/sqmi

    Which provides another interesting comparison because Signapore and Monaco have far less crime than NYC.

  • JohnD||

    Look at Chicago for conformation of your opinion.

  • UnCivilServant||

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    I meant in the US.

    Singapore is an outlier

  • UnCivilServant||

    I kept reading that as "Countries" not "Counties"

    Ugh. Silly me.

  • SugarFree||

    I imagine that it tracks closer to counties with high participation in assistance programs. The rural counties in KY that are fueled by welfare are violent as all get out. Especially intrafamily murders.

  • WTF||

    And don't forget the hillbilly feuds!

  • Adans smith||

    'Hunting accidents' .

  • UnCivilServant||

    'I thought it was the orange-vested deer, honest'

  • Adans smith||

    'He was coming right at me'!!

  • Adans smith||

    'He was coming right at me'!!

  • UnCivilServant||

    So... the hunters shot each other? Were the squirrels to blame?

  • Adans smith||

    Damn tree rats.

  • JohnD||

    Hillbillies cause a lot fewer deaths then Inner city gangs.

  • ||

    "I'm willing to bet the homicide rate is at least 4x higher..."

    1000x would probably be a safe bet.

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    I like to mention this when people compare Canada and the US in terms of homicides and gun laws. Canada has two areas with pop. densities greater than 250/sq.km., where the US has way more than that.

  • Tionico||

    I'd be more interested in separating out each gross data set into a county by county data set, analising each "population" separately, then comparing them by population density for the variables and controls. You bet, the murder rates in dense city areas WILL be higher than in rural counties. As well, the gun ownership/CCL ratios per person will radically change between dense urban settings and spare rural ones. I believe the total number of CCL's in Los Angeles County California is well under a hundred (and it is certain most of those are to somebodies who are SOMEBODY (as in, more equal pigs) while at the same time, Tulare County, 150 miles to the north in sparse Central Valley farm country (or what WAS farms until the Three Inch Delta Smelt acceded to the throne in the temple and MUST be bowed down to and worshipped) has a population of about 100,000 but the sheriff in that county has issued more than FOUR THOUSAND permits. Now, compare violent crime rates, and even housebreakings: Tulare County is FAR safer to live in than Los Angeles County. MANY TIMES more guns, a fraction of violent crimes and housebreakings. Could there be a correlation between those stats? I rather think so....

  • Libertarian||

    Poor NYC. First they find out that deep dish is better, and now this:

    http://www.foxnews.com/leisure.....ntcmp=hpff

  • WTF||

    Deep dish is better than what? Certainly not better than actual pizza.

  • UnCivilServant||

    In a blind taste test, Deep Dish beat out Hard tack.

  • WTF||

    How could it be blind? Completely different textures - one is a pizza, and one is some sort of bastard casserole. Deep dish tastes okay, but it is not pizza.

  • Suicidy||

    A pizza/casserole hybrid?

  • JohnD||

    Real Italian pizza is deep dish. It's known as pizza pie.

  • SugarFree||

    I'm sorry, but I'm siding with the anti-scoopers. This is pretty much how I feel.


    “It was the moment I realized my ex was a monster,” Lisa Rosenberg, a 27-year-old graphic designer living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, says of a guy she dated for about a year. “Even watching someone eating [a scooped-out bagel] is completely repulsive.”
  • Pompey||

    bagel scoopers are lumped in with people who eat their pizza with a fork


    This makes me so fucking angry!!!! I eat my deep dish pizza with a fork!

  • UnCivilServant||

    One: Deep Dish is not pizza, it's casserole, and thus forking it is acceptable behaviour.

    Two: What the fuck is "Bagel Scooping"?

  • SugarFree||

    They scoop out the insides of a split bagel with a spoon, leaving only the "skin."

  • UnCivilServant||

    That's barbaric!

    Break their fingers until they learn to stop doing such awful things to food.

  • ||

    Same here UnCivil. I read the article but it is just word salad to me. I don't know what any of that means.

    *takes another bite of delicious toasted buttery English Muffin*

  • UnCivilServant||

    Now I keep thinking of bagel sandwiches. (replace standard bread or roll with bagel of choice.) I vote either cheddar cheese or salt for a pastrami and swiss sandwich.

    If only I had time to swing by the store on my way home...

  • SugarFree||

    Bialy: The delicious miscegenation of bagels and English Muffins.

  • UnCivilServant||

    The funny thing is, the stores tag the bialy at a higher price to the bagels, but the cahsiers always ring them up as bagels, even when you state uneequivocally that they're bialys.

  • SugarFree||

    I had a surprisingly good bialy in Seattle. Big, with lots of onions and cheese.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Were they trying to make a pizza and failed?

  • SugarFree||

    Well, "lots" in comparison to the NYC version. It was the bread for a smoked salmon scramble and goat cheese sandwich. So good.

  • sarcasmic||

    Look. Guns are an efficient way to kill. There's no denying that. So therefore that means that the mere presence of a gun increases the risk of death. How could it not? Prove that it doesn't. And don't go and cite "statistics" gathered by those stupid right-wingers. Their studies are tainted because of their politics. You can only cite studies by people who support gun control. There. You can't do it. Ha ha. You're wrong.

  • WTF||

    Sadly, this is what actual proggies really believe.

  • Adans smith||

    I would say that owning a car increases the risk of death too.Maybe at a higher rate

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    Same goes for swimming pools.

  • The Hyperbole||

    And ladders

  • Adans smith||

    And living next to Warty.

  • UnCivilServant||

    You violated the exclusion zone, we accept no liability for your actions.

  • Suicidy||

    Two story homes? Or homes with lots of front steps?

  • sarcasmic||

    Owning a car increases the risk of death to everyone, being that it increases global climate change.

  • Old.Mexican||

    Re: Sarcasmic,

    Guns are an efficient way to kill.


    Actually, the most efficient way to kill is with poison. A person has to become proficient in the use of a gun before he or she can use it with "efficiency" which would mean shooting A bullet (not two or several) in the head or directly to the heart. Gaining such proficiency takes a lot of practice. Instead, to poison a person does not require any special skills from the murderer.

    I have made this point to several Marxian posters in FB and they still think a gun is infallible and 100% deadly. They have this image of the pioneer women in old matinee movies who always felled an Indian by pointing the musket anywhere.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't know who made the claim that guns are the most efficient way to kill. So while your argument does have merit, you're wasting it on a straw man.

  • JFree||

    Why do you want to make the world unsafe for strawmen?

  • ||

    *opens a case of 7.62 incendiary rounds*

  • LarryA||

    Guns are an efficient way to kill. There's no denying that. So therefore that means that the mere presence of a gun increases the risk of death. How could it not? Prove that it doesn't.

    If the mere presence of a gun increases the risk of death, then the huge increase in private ownership of firearms over the last two decades, and particularly the greatly increased presence of guns carried in public, should have resulted in the blood-running-in-the-streets scenario predicted by the anti-gun folk.

    Instead, (using statistics gathered by the FBI, which is not made up of stupid right-wingers) deaths are dropping. While that doesn't prove that the increase in gun ownership is causing the drop in deaths, it clearly shows that the increase in gun ownership isn't causing deaths to increase. Because they aren't.

    :-)

  • Pompey||

    "There's scientific consensus on guns—and the NRA won't like it."

    You know, a while ago there was this place where there was scientific consensus on Jews, and look what happened!

    Aaaand....*ACT*!

  • Tejicano||

    But don't let anybody snooker you with that line about "guns are only for killing". Wrong. A guillotine is only for killing - it has no other purpose (it can be purposed for other things but those are not the purpose of a guillotine).

    A firearm is a tool for managing a violent encounter. It carries the potential for pain, injury, and death and in that can be used to negotiate through and possibly avoid injury during a violent encounter but all that depends on the skill of the user.

  • Animal||

    I own several firearms that were expressly designed for poking holes in small pieces of paper at a known distance. Are they still only for killing? Killing what? Paper?

    (Based on an actual conversation with a progtard colleague, by the way.)

  • mtrueman||

    "I own several firearms"

    You've probably been duped. These are air guns unless I'm mistaken. Not firearms. The lack of fire is the give away.

  • Animal||

    Nope. A Ruger Competition Target, while only a .22, is a firearm. So is a .22 caliber 1930s-vintage Colt Officer's Target.

  • mtrueman||

    "guns are only for killing". Wrong."

    Only a fool would use a gun for something other than killing or wounding. Those clowns in Oregon, for example, armed themselves to the teeth and didn't use their guns for anything other than waving about trying to look tough. They never fired a shot and now they're in prison. If you are not prepared to use a gun properly, you have no business carrying one. They are not fashion accessories.

  • Morpheus was right||

    Original statement: "guns are only for killing"

    Response: "Only a fool would use a gun for something other than killing or wounding."

    Yeah, so.... you said something about fools, do they, by any chance, strawman?

    Also, target shooting is an actual sport.

  • mtrueman||

    "target shooting is an actual sport"

    They were brandishing their guns. Not shooting, not killing, not wounding, not sporting. If these clowns had no idea of using guns as god intended, they shouldn't have had them in the first place.

  • tarran||

    It's mark trueman. He says stupid & nonsensical things for the express purpose of getting one or more people riled up to the point they respond. By keeping his pronouncements sufficiently cryptic and facilely changing his argument, sometimes by redefining words in hilariously wrong ways, he entertains himself for hours pissing people off.

    The sensible thing to do is to ignore him. He is utterly useless and worthless. There literally is no benefit to interacting with him at all.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Great article, Mr. Dougherty. I do want to pick just one nit. I think you're probably being a bit too generous in saying that the science isn't clear. It sounds a lot more to me like the takeaway here is that the research is cooked.

  • Pompey||

    Agree, fantastic article.

  • retiredfire||

    Some things defy scientific analysis, because there are too many variables and science is impossible unless you can eliminate, or minimize, the existence of variables.
    Human interactions are such a thing, thus the concept of "social science" is a canard.

  • some guy||

    Wait, I thought the CDC was forbidden to study gun violence for the last 20+ years... where is all this data coming from? Good thing Obama is going to make a new law today saying the CDC can now study gun violence again. We'll finally have some statistics to use in our policy-making.

  • Suicidy||

    CDC? No. Obama's asshole? probably. Where he pulls a lot of his other lies.

  • Mama La Pinga||

    Obama gets an E for effort for his well intentions as far as guns are concerned.

    However, nothing will be accomplished with this STUPID executive order. There's no way to enforce person A selling or giving away a gun to person B.

    Besides, the retards and the criminals will not register. They will simply buy the guns from the street.
    Or in the case of Sandy Hook, the retard will simply take the guns from his mother.
    I Tell you, the only good thing that came out of the Sandy Hook Shooting is that the Retard Kid first killed the biggest retard of them all, his Mother. One less so-called responsible gun owner to deal with in America.

  • AlmightyJB||

    None of the legislation ever proposed after a shooring would have prevented the shooting . They're never even remotely connected. Which tells you that the legislation is never about prevention in the first place. Its juat part of they're incremental eating away at the 2nd while atanding on dead bobies. That is the goal.

  • Mama La Pinga||

    Agreed.

    It's just political grand standing. No law in America is effective in combating gun crime. Each an every law created in the gun control effort only stops (or slows down) people that want to own guns. The criminals and Retards have full access to guns in America since guns are so ubiquitous.

  • mtrueman||

    "The criminals and Retards have full access to guns in America since guns are so ubiquitous."

    I think you underestimate the resourcefulness of people. If criminals and retards have full access to guns, then surely the same goes for the rest of us.

  • Pompey||

    *YAWN*

  • Chip the Chipper||

    He gets an A for Asshole. The effort isn't about preventing another mass shooting since no law would have prevented any mass shooting.

  • Tejicano||

    "the retards and the criminals will not register"

    Register what? Do you know what you are talking about?

  • sarcasmic||

    People who intend to commit crimes with their guns will simply find illegal means of acquiring their guns.

  • The Hyperbole||

    Your telling me that criminals commit crimes that they are not allowed to? I refuse to believe that.

  • UnCivilServant||

    has anyone tried telling them not to be criminals?

    /progderp

  • Tejicano||

    Expecting a gun law to keep guns out of the hands of criminals is like putting up a fence to keep out birds.

  • UnCivilServant||

    One flaw with that analogy - you can design a fence that stops birds, though it resembles a cage more than a fence.

  • Adans smith||

    I prefer my 12 gauge O\U.

  • R C Dean||

    has anyone tried telling them not to be criminals?

    Teach Criminals Not to Crime!

    Like that?

  • AlmightyJB||

    There should be a law against commiting crimes

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    Another of National Journal's mistakes is a common one in gun science: The paper didn't look at gun statistics in the context of overall violent crime, a much more relevant measure to the policy debate. After all, if less gun crime doesn't mean less crime overall—if criminals simply substitute other weapons or means when guns are less available—the benefit of the relevant gun laws is thrown into doubt.

    I know Doherty is just trying to be generous, but that's not a "mistake." It's data pimping, which is the natural result of positivism & physics envy taking over the social sciences and most people's reluctance/inability to tackle the intimidating combination of reams of statistics and men whose extraordinary confidence is matched only by their ignorance.

    When I have to debate GC advocates, the first point I usually make is that we're not interested in gun violence, but all violence. I have yet to meet a single person who was prepared for that, which goes to show the depth of ignorance we're dealing with here. It's no wonder they have the confidence of a fundamentalist preacher--they're completely ignorant of the most basic facts about the issue.

  • Old.Mexican||

    Damned! You beaten me to the punch!

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    We're just shouting into an Austrian echo chamber anyway. Positivism will continue to march ahead until a generation of philosophers comes along that's willing to kill it.

  • Old.Mexican||

    Another of National Journal's mistakes is a common one in gun science: The paper didn't look at gun statistics in the context of overall violent crime, a much more relevant measure to the policy debate.


    You say this as if these were honest mistakes that crept in those studies rather than a purposeful skewing of the data to prop up a particular narrative, Brian. I don't see much difference between these studies that ostensibly show a direct correlation between more gun ownership and violent crime and current "Climate" science, with its penchant for moving the goal posts as expediency dictates, the most recent and egregious case being the scandalous change (which they called it "adjustments") in temperatures by the NOAA.

  • Loki||

    TEH SYENSE IZ SETTELLED!!!11!1!!! HERTIK!!!1!!!!!!!! FILTHEE SYENSE DENYER!!11!!1111!!!!!!! /progtard

  • Loki||

    According to the CDC's National Vital Statistics System, 21,175 Americans committed suicide with firearms in 2013, more than twice as many as used the next most popular suicide method, suffocation.

    I wonder how many of those suffocations were from auto-erotic asphyxiation related accidents? Should those really be counted as suicides?

  • The Grinch||

    This was an excellent article but who beyond Reasonoids are going to read it? Facts and statistics matter very little when there's an endless supply of unethical social scientists who 1) arrive at a politically motivated conclusion, 2) design studies that are customized to support that conclusion, and 3) release those conclusions to a compliant and sympathetic (and in some cases ignorant and stupid) press with the collusion of a political class that don't give a tinker's damn about what the truth of the matter is..

    Their MO is twisting facts to reach a foregone conclusion and good luck convincing the left their science isn't really science (it isn't), you right wing, knuckledragging, children hating, gun fetishists.

  • Suicidy||

    No point attempting to reason with or negotiate with progtards anymore.

  • TKList||

    As long as there are people willing to kill people, people will need the right to be armed.

    We have the 2nd Amendment not to protect against the fools we have voted for now, but in case we vote for Mussolini or Hitler like fools in the future.

    Most gun deaths are from:
    2006 Total (30896)
    55% Suicides (16992)
    41% Homicides (12667)
    2% Unintentional (accidents) (618)
    1% Legal Intervention (309)
    1% Other (309)

    2010 Total (31,076)
    62% Suicides (19392)
    35 % Homicides (11,078)
    2% Unintentional (accidents) (606)

    Better mental health is the best way to decrease suicides.

    Solutions to gun violence:
    1. Remove public-sector gun free zones.
    2. Enact better mental health laws and treatment. (Mandatory treatment for those adjudicated violent mentally ill.)
    3. End the drug war and decriminalize drugs.

    Allow teachers to be armed if they wish. Require they are trained.

    We know what happened to unarmed Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks in Ottoman Empire/Turkey during WWI.

    We know what happened to the unarmed Jews in Europe during WWII.

    We know what happened to unarmed Cambodians in Cambodia during the 1970's.

    We know what happened and is happening to unarmed Darfurians in Darfur.

    We know what happened to unarmed Tutsi in Rwanda.

    We know what is happening to the unarmed in Africa today.

    We know what is happening to the unarmed in the Middle East today.

    How is the liberal agenda of disarming America still a thing?

    Statistics: http://www.gunpolicy.org/firea.....ted-states

  • retiredfire||

    How is the liberal agenda of disarming America still a thing?

    Because, despite their claims to the contrary, libs/progs would be happy to see some of those "happenings" directed at non-libs/progs. Just as long as those doing the "happening" are in service of the state.

    Don't see too many libs/progs wanting the security details surrounding lob/prog politicians to be disarmed.

  • block30||

    So the porous border liberals, who are OK with whatever and whoever strolling into the US, are fighting vehemently for for stricter gun laws in America? Mmmkay.

  • KevinP||

    Gun ban advocates in this country routinely perform the scam of including gun suicides in "gun death", more than 60% of the total. Suicides are a voluntary act committed by people with many deep problems, and they choose a gun or other means to end their difficult existence. But including them into "gun death" greatly inflates the statistic and it is regularly mindlessly regurgitated by our ignorant media.

    Consider the top four methods of suicide in the US:
    Someone who commits suicide by jumping off a bridge or structure is not a victim of Bridge Violence or Building Violence.
    Someone who commits suicide by Poisoning is not a victim of Drug Violence or Natural Gas Violence.
    Someone who commits suicide by hanging himself is not a victim of Rope Violence.
    Someone who commits suicide by using a gun is not a victim of Gun Violence.

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    They also include homicides with murders.

    Many of those homicides belong to criminals who, in the process of committing a crime, wind up getting shot. You'll forgive me if I don't shed too many tears over an attempted rape that concludes with the would-be rapist's death by gunshot.

  • Mainer2||

    Colonel Jeff Cooper has some wisdom on the subject of violence:

    "One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that 'violence begets violence.' I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure — and in some cases I have — that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy."

  • Peter||

    According to that logic, Police officers carry guns and Nuns do not.
    Nuns are shot at a vastly lower rate than Police.
    Disarm the Police?

  • JohnD||

    Arm the nuns.

  • Estobrevis||

    Regarding reporting of defensive gun use, the article notes, "There are no even halfway thorough documentations of every such event in America. They are not all going to end up reported in the media or to the police." Perhaps one of the main reasons DGUs are underreported to authorities is that making such a report carries risks of its own, such as what actually happened to a good friend of mine some years back in Eugene, Oregon. He heard someone on his back porch trying to jimmy open his sliding glass door, so he flicked on the living room lights and the would-be burglar found himself staring down the barrel of my friend's Glock. The bad guy fled--most likely with a sizable load of excrement in his pants, and my friend dutifully called the cops to report the incident. They dispatched two officers to take his statement, at the conclusion of which one of them said--ever so politely--"We're going to need to take your gun with us." Fortunately my friend, who is the son of a police officer and has a lot of friends who are lawyers, knew his rights and told the cop to go boil his head. But had the cop not eventually backed down, this could have gone sideways in a hurry. And I'm willing to bet if there's ever a similar incident, the last thing he'll think of doing will be to call the cops. When the people you call for help end up trying to rob you themselves, is it any wonder we would all just prefer to provide our own security with our own privately held firearms?

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    That's horrible.

    And I'm willing to bet if there's ever a similar incident, the last thing he'll think of doing will be to call the cops.

    The police: encouraging self-reliance and RKBA advocacy one 911 call at a time.

  • Oliver Klosov||

    Indeed, that was a discouragement of making a DGU report. Which makes the survey-based minimal 55,000-80,000/yr estimate of such DGU incidents, not drawn from any official records, all the more MINIMAL.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Asset-forfeiture has already turned government personnel into "looters-by-law" and the 2007 crash and depression was the practical application of The Money Speech straight out of Atlas Shrugged.

  • Stevecsd||

    In a recent George Will column he reported that in 2013 more property was taken by asset forfeiture than by thieves.
    We are now living in a kleptocracy (as if it wasn't before.)

  • Outside the Box||

    Link please?

  • GregMax||

    Look, nobody's gonna convince a progressive (indoctrinated by a life of bullshit) to stop pursuing a "gun-free world." NADA. All this Obama crap is designed to move the ball incrementally towards their goal - the executive orders, the bullshit consensus, the media shit-eaters.
    This is political and the people who support liberty and citizen's rights over government power are pissing in the wind to try to convince the progressive gunphobes otherwise.
    Instead of playing defense and digging in to slow the forward movement, we need to find leaders who will take the game to offense and start passing laws that eliminate ANY and all gun restrictions and laws that support the 2nd amendment. Stop accepting gunhating judges, stop funding departments that support infringement.
    The left will shit its collective self and things will change for the better. Imagine that all our liberties were supported by our representatives.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Okay. I already vote libertarian, and I know that "the case for voting Libertarian" is that it gets moronic laws repealed.

  • Je suis Woodchipper||

    i commend Doherty on his civility and courtesy.

  • Kroneborge||

    Great article, thanks for putting it together

  • Jima||

    That was a very well researched and written article. Thanks for your efforts. In an issue so fraught with emotion, articles like this aren't especially common, and this level of detail is even more rare. Thanks again.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I don't see why we can't find a compromise on these issues. Communists and Dems don't like the Second Amendment, fine. But cars, according to The Atlantic, still kill more people than guns--and there is no constitutional amendment protecting auto ownership. Recently in Austin TX a berserker named Rashad recently committed plural murder driving a car into a crowd. So where are the handwringing cries of Ban! Ban! and Terrorism? Banning automobiles would show voters Congress is serious and not hypocritical, and would pave the way for disarming enforcement personnel and enacting Barry Commoner gun laws. Libertarians don't like the individual income tax, and point to roads that existed before its 1914 enactment. With no cars, communists would not need the income tax for the roads they refuse to believe already existed. So a ban on deadly automobiles would also... er... pave the way for repealing the other force amendment, as destructive of individual rights as the prohibition amendment turned out to be.

  • Suicidy||

    Is that meant to be some form of satire?

  • Fmontyr||

    Hank, your comment, let's say is just stupid.

  • Hasdrubal||

    You might want to mention that Lott is infamous for not being able to produce the data from the surveys he based his 1997 paper on. That's a huge red flag and when you cite him to people in the know, you lose credibility. He's in the same category as Michael LaCour, so I think you should at least mention that and explain why you think his current research is meaningful.

    That being said, there is plenty of social science that comes to the same conclusion Lott does. It's just that referencing him will give people on the anti gun side an easy target to attack.

    Also, mentioning that prisoners in from Cook County, IL got guns through social connections triggers alarm bells. That's Chicago, with very strict gun laws. So it's evidence that criminals will get guns even if there are strict laws (as long as it's easy to move guns from places with permissive laws to places with strict laws,) it's not a great indication that criminals in general get guns through social ties. Prisoners in, say, Texas, would be a better source of evidence for that. As it stands, this just adds fuel to the fire that we should have strict national laws because local laws can't control what people do outside their jurisdiction.

    Other than that, I really enjoyed the article.

  • HolgerDanske||

    You might want to mention that Lott is infamous for not being able to produce the data from the surveys he based his 1997 paper on.

    I believe only the data from one survey was lost in a (verified as fact) hard drive crash, and the survey was largely redone from scratch, producing very similar outcomes to the original surveys.

  • Robert Crim||

    No one so far has pointed out that the anti-gun "studies" all seem to come from Harvard.

    You'd think that, were there really consensus on the subject, SOME might come from the University of Nebraska or Colorado State, &c.

    There can be no correlation between gun ownership, gun regulation, and crimes with guns. As one poster pointed out, there are more shootings in Chicago in a week than there have been in his corner of Louisiana in 5 years. That is not because of gun control or the failure of gun control; it is because of Chicago, where even police routinely shoot African Americans in the street.

    If the polity is of a mind to tolerate using guns for violent crime, it should come as no sociological revelation that gun crime will increase.

    Furthermore, even if all these self-appointed Harvard experts were right, their findings are irrelevant. Guns won their place in the Constitution not so we could kill the hedgehogs and certainly not so we could kill each other. Guns won their place in the Constitution to ensure the balance of power by which we ultimately secure liberty. Indeed, we accept democracy as the primary means of settling political disputes precisely because it's more sensible to throw balls of paper at opponents than balls of steel.

    There's no reason for a minority to pay any attention to a democratic result if the winners aren't prepared to back up their con with a sufficiency of force.

    But, where in these Harvard "studies" has anyone measured that?

  • bshep19||

    For the sake of argument let us assume that more guns mean more crime, murder, suicide, accidental shootings and cause diabetes. The whole idea of protecting the God Given Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms is to protect us from a tyrannical government; not so I can hunt, put holes in paper or even keep the local outlaw from mugging me.

    I am quite willing to put up with a larger amount of gun deaths so that I and my fellow citizens can protect ourselves from our government. In the same way I am willing to put up with a certain amount of car related deaths so that I and my fellow citizens can travel where we want efficiently.

    The correct reply to this and all “studies” that “prove” that guns are bad for me and the children is “Fuck Off Slaver”!

    Also, “cold dead fingers” should have gone somewhere in there.

  • BillCa||

    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
    --Ben Franklin

    Thus, some soccer mom claiming a "right" to feel safe does not trump our right to defend ourselves from a tyrannical government. The evils of a tyrannical government are far worse than the sneak thief in the night or the worry of a foreign invader. A tyrannical government combines the worst of both.

    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it. -- Thomas Jefferson

  • Rocinante||

    "There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America," President Barack Obama proclaimed after the October mass shooting that killed 10 at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

    Where do I get mine?

  • JohnD||

    At your local gun dealer.

  • chiphomme||

    Why even bother using stats? They're irrelevant even if true. The 2nd Amendment was, at least in part, an effort to keep the government in check by having an armed citizenry.

  • mtrueman||

    "The 2nd Amendment was, at least in part, an effort to keep the government in check by having an armed citizenry."

    As long as this armed citizenry of yours is more content to live on their knees than to die on their feet, all the 2nd Amendments in the world aren't going to keep a government in check.

  • BillCa||

    In the nearly 240 years of this Republic we have transitioned from the frontiersman to the suburbanite lifestyle. The self-reliant, utterly free frontiersman is gone, replaced by others who have an interdependence on each other for their existence. If a president gave Obama's speech in, say 1816, there would have been a mob of angry individualists with torches and rifles banging on the White House doors demanding his hide.

    We're more likely today to "play by the rules" of legal actions and protests instead of direct action. This was even the case in 1775. The colonists suffered many years under the Crown before declaring independence.

    "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

    We simply have not reached the point of contempt for the government that existed in 1775.

  • spoolin01||

    Very nice review, thanks. However, I was surprised to see it twice mentioned that failure to determine if an owner's gun were used against them was a flaw in associating a gun in the home with outcome of a criminal event. While an interesting aspect in its own right, it's plainly not a necessary condition to claiming that association. An assailant doesn't have to possess your gun for it, or even the presumption of it, to alter their behavior. Both sides readily make that claim.

    It's more relevant to know whether the gun actually factored in - to what extent was it brought to bear, rather than simple being a demographic factor?

  • BillCa||

    I think I know what you're trying to say. However, given the thrust of the Kellerman study which claimed that having a gun increased your risk of death, establishing whether the gun was involved in the death IS necessary.

    If a study claimed that owning a box of Corn Flakes increased your risk of death, a necessary part of that study would be to establish a relationship between the cereal and the death. That a homicide victim merely owned a gun has no more significance with regard to his/her risk of death than the fact that they had a box of Corn Flakes or they were a black belt in Karate.

  • spoolin01||

    I think we're saying the same thing. You might not die from eating the Corn Flakes, your sister might kill you for emptying the box. "...whether the gun was involved in death..." plainly encompasses more than having the gun turned on you. Not that I in the least disfavor wide latitude in self defense including ready access to a gun, just pointing out a twice-made statement that exhibited poor logic.

  • toolkien||

    Guns used for suicide is nobody else's business.

    Guns used for mass shootings are an outlier.

    Guns used in homicides outside of "mass shootings" are largely part of the de facto wars fought by the black (no pun intended because Whites and Hispanics are a part of the subset) marketeers. We have large scale wars fought by the "legitimate" institutions (the laundered mafia known as governments) and we have small scale wars being fought by the shadow markets of organized crime. Nothing the Feds do will impact the availability of ordnance for those fighting their turf wars in our inner cities, leaking out into some suburbs. What remains of white gangs tend to move their venues for battle around while the blacks and hispanics fight over city blocks, sometimes house by house. Idiotic, blanket rules sticking red tape to the 99.99% who aren't a problem does no good. I firmly believe the likes of Obama knows this, but the "laundered mafia" has every interest in disarming the 99.99% as best they can for their own interests.

  • Empress Trudy||

    The intent of gun laws isn't to lessen crime or even lessen the # of guns. It's for some people to pat themselves on the back that they forced someone else to comply with something against their will. It's really just a purely human motivation about the abuse of petty power.

  • Outside the Box||

    Where are the studies relating murder rates to signs of the Zodiac? To phrenology?

  • BillCa||

    I remember that a newspaper in Baltimore added an interactive crime map to their website for while. You could examine crimes by type over several time periods and map their locations. It was all grins and giggles until someone posted a screen capture of homicides. The crime locations clustered around the predominately black neighborhoods with only a very few in other areas. It was quite the eye opener. But the map disappeared from the website shortly afterward without explanation.

  • Fmontyr||

    Sorry, Richard, but cities controlled by Democrats isn't the reason for the high homicide rates in these cities. These cities are more concentrated with persons having well below a decent standard of living, be it housing, schools, jobs, etc., and thus are more concentrated with minorities who face discrimination than the rest of the country. With little opportunity and little hope, the matter of life is of less importance. Living in poverty isn't conducive to living a good life.

  • Micu5||

    It's impossible to know how often guns are used in self-defense, because defending yourself with a gun doesn't always require pulling the trigger. You can even defend yourself with a gun over the phone: "I bought a gun so stay the hell away from me." How can anyone measure that?

  • mtrueman||

    "I bought a gun so stay the hell away from me"

    What if you only said that but actually you were lying and didn't buy a gun or have one in the first place?

  • JohnD||

    The height of stupidity is making a threat that you can't back up. I can and will back it up.

  • mtrueman||

    "I can and will back it up."

    No doubt those clowns in Oregon were saying the same thing. Guns lend themselves to this kind of bravado. If you're lucky you'll just end up in jail like our friends in Oregon.

  • BillCa||

    I think it was Kleck's study that tried to give some basic measurement. My memory says the number of DGUs where no shots were fired was over 90%. As I recall only about 8% of DGUs involved actually discharging the gun and only about 2% resulted in a room temperature intruder.

    Seems that when a potential victim turns out to be armed the majority of criminals suddenly remember they're overdue at church choir practice ... or something. Doherty is also spot-on about why such things are not reported to police. And of course the media isn't interested unless there's a body, blood or flashing lights.

  • Outside the Box||

    A good article in general, but I'm disappointed that you don't call out the one absolutely uncontroversial *causal* connection between gun laws and violence: the kidnapping and caging of those that violate those laws. I know it's kind of standard libertarian rhetoric to say that a gun law "bans" guns, but in fact it does no such thing: guns don't listen to bans. What a gun law does is make a violent threat: "if you do X [buy a gun, sell a gun, possess a gun, etc], then we *will* commit a violent act against you."

    Any calculation of violence with respect to gun laws *has* to take into account the number of people who will be/have been jailed as a consequence.

  • Skeebo||

    The divergence in gun ownership polls is based on citizenship and voters. The two polls that show downward trending household ownership rates survey anybody, and the two that show relatively stable rates poll only registered voters.

    http://www.gunfacts.info/blog/polling-pollution/

  • m1ek||

    I find it a curious omission that an article which includes such prominent placement for the work of John Lott ignores the even more significant efforts in this field performed by Mary Rosh.

  • BillCa||

    This article is well written & reasoned by Mr. Doherty. .

    I've been around the gun debate for years. Names like David Hemenway Philip Cook, Ludwig, Wintemute, Kellerman, Zimring, et al are familiar names in anti-gun "research". The drumbeat from all these people is always negative about firearms with little acknowledgement that firearms MAY be useful to certain people.

    It seems that the above authors have almost always been shown to have been wrong. Whether by cherry-picking their data to support their ideology or failing to account for the simplest of variables.

    More interesting is to look up the source of their research dollars. I'll let the reader do their own research, however I will tell them to expect to find most are funded by a few left-wing foundations.

    With crime rates falling over the last 20 years, the anti-gun left has been forced to adopt a position against a new scourge -- "Gun Violence." This allows them to lump together different activities other than violent crime and murder to bolster their statistics. Though it's curious that they get away with including suicide as "gun violence." That's like including self-abuse (masturbation) under the heading of "domestic violence."

    These are separate and distinctly different problems requiring different approaches. Yet the left wishes to treat them the same. And if you propose a solution for one issue and they dismiss it because it doesn't solve both issues (only banning guns will "solve" it).

  • MaleMatters||

    Re: "But perhaps, and more plausibly, these laws are more readily enacted in states where the prevalence of firearm ownership is low—there will be less opposition to them—and firearm ownership confounds the association."

    Excellent.

  • MaleMatters||

    Re: "...since it's always possible that those more likely to be suicidal are more likely to want to own guns."

    I'd say it's not just possible but probable. Men commit suicide at a rate four times higher than do women, and men are much more likely than women to want to own and in fact possess a gun.

  • JohnD||

    Don't tell my wife that. She carries and she is a damn good shot.
    However, most women that commit suicide prefer other means such as sleeping pills.

    Suicide by gun is a messy affair.

  • ||

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  • Delius||

    The paper didn't look at gun statistics in the context of overall violent crime, a much more relevant measure to the policy debate. After all, if less gun crime doesn't mean less crime overall—if criminals simply substitute other weapons or means when guns are less available—the benefit of the relevant gun laws is thrown into doubt.


    This, along with lumping in suicides, is why it is almost impossible to have a rational discussion on this topic. The goal should not be to reduce "gun deaths", it should be to reduce overall deaths. People looking for simple solutions to complex problems view these as directly correlated data points, and conclude that reducing the former will automatically reduce the latter. It's like suggesting grounding all airplanes will reduce travel deaths because no one will die in plane crashes anymore -- ignoring that, in the absence of air travel, people won't simply start sitting at home.

    If you look at the worldwide data on gun ownership rates, homicide rates, and suicide rates, there is no correlation between the first one and the last two, on a country-by-country basis.

  • Fmontyr||

    It is unfortunate that Brian Doherty is so provincial and spent all his time analyzing restrictive gun laws of the USA, 4% of the world's population and perhaps 15% of the developed world's population. It so happens that the 85% experiences significantly less gun violence, homicides and suicides since they have much less gun ownership largely due to restrictive gun laws. All of what Doherry has written isn't worth the paper on which it is written. His analysis falls apart when applied to Australia, Germany, UK, Scandinavian, countries, Russia, Japan, etc. For the love of Pete he can even explain our neighbor, Canada. Obviously he suffers from having a gun affection sickness as do most of the staff at Reason. Sorry guys, when it comes to guns you lose.

  • Lord Rollingpin||

    'It so happens that the 85% experiences significantly less gun violence, homicides and suicides since they have much less gun ownership largely due to restrictive gun laws. '
    Japan has a higher suicide rate than America and has way less guns.

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  • gah87||

    A "war on guns" - like the President contemplates - would, like the "war on drugs", likely ensnare a disproportionate number of poor and minority Americans, since it is in urban areas where gun crime is most heavily concentrated. Such unintended social consequences create tremendous potholes in a road paved with good intentions.

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    It is very qurious information.

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  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    From my perspective, somebody (or somebodies) should back the Progressives into a corner and tell them, "All the crime statistics in the world are irrelevant. he Constitution says 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'. If you are ready to ashcan that in the name of momentary expedience or 'common sense' why should I trust you to respect any other part of the Constitution? Write a Constitutional amendment allowing the government to regulate guns, and start trying to get it passed, and we'll talk. Until you do that you are a bunch of scofflaws."

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