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Debunking a Pro-Gun Control Study Using Its Own Stats

The Violence Policy Center's own data in a study they just released prove that more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens causes less crime.

by
Howard Nemerov

Bio

June 25, 2010 - 12:00 am
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One attribute VPC’s “weak” states have in common is that they are all right-to-carry (RTC) states, where law-abiding citizens have a broad right to carry concealed handguns in public, whereas four of their five “strong” gun law states are not RTC. VPC confirms this criteria in their press release:

The VPC defined states with “weak” gun laws as those that add little or nothing to federal restrictions and have permissive laws governing the open or concealed carrying of firearms in public. States with “strong” gun laws were defined as those that add significant state regulation in addition to federal law, such as restricting access to particularly hazardous types of firearms (for example, assault weapons), setting minimum safety standards for firearms and/or requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, and restrictive laws governing the open and concealed carrying of firearms in public.

Following VPC criteria, states are categorized by RTC status in Table 2.


Table 2: Firearms and Non-Firearms Death Rates (2002), All States
Total Homicide Suicide FBI
Gun Non-gun Gun Non-gun Gun Non-gun Violent

Crime

Hom.
Non-RTC states 9.67 45.77 4.48 2.25 4.81 5.41 503.5 6.6
RTC states 12.76 52.14 3.55 1.91 8.48 5.21 394.1 4.7
Percent Difference 31.9 13.9 -20.7 -15.3 76.5 -3.7 -21.7 -28.2

Examining the entire dataset, VPC’s “weak” gun law states (RTC) still have higher rates of total firearms death (31.9%), but not the 4+ times difference shown in Table 1. RTC states also have higher rates of non-firearms death (13.9%) but again, far less than in Table 1, indicating that there are other causative factors besides guns. Firearms suicide rates are 76.5% the rates in VPC’s “strong” states (non-RTC), but not over 4.5 times higher as in Table 1. Comparison of Tables 1 and 2 underscores VPC’s sampling error.

Most importantly, when it comes to homicide and overall violent crime, Table 2 reveals what VPC wanted to hide. Where “weak” states (RTC) had much higher murder and violent crime rates in Table 1, the full dataset shows that they are safer: 20.7% lower firearms homicide and 15.3% lower non-firearms homicide rates. Moreover, RTC states averaged 21.7% less violent crime and 28.2% lower homicide rates, according to the FBI.

Table 3 reinforces this negative correlation between gun ownership and violent crime: As gun ownership increases, violence decreases.

Table 3: Percent Gun Ownership vs. FBI Crime Rates
% Gun Ownership Violent Crime Homicide
<30 599.7 8.2
30 to <40 422.4 5.0
40 to <50 406.5 4.8
50+ 314.8 3.9

While VPC wishes to look only at negatives, this highlights the truth that the gun rights issue is a balanced equation: There are benefits to gun ownership, as well as negative consequences for enacting gun control laws.

Bottom line: Firearm-involved suicides drove the difference in “gun death” rates between VPC’s “strong” and “weak” gun law states. Since they insist the equation is “simple,” that increased firearms ownership causes more suicide, VPC’s own data proves that more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens causes less crime.

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Former civilian disarmament supporter and medical researcher Howard Nemerov investigates the civil liberty of self-defense and examines the issue of gun control, resulting in his book Four Hundred Years of Gun Control: Why Isn’t It Working? He appears frequently on NRA News as their “unofficial” analyst and was published in the Texas Review of Law and Politics with David Kopel and Carlisle Moody.
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