florida concealed weapon or firearm license holders are more law-abiding than average

First, allow me to present the pretty picture for today’s post:

FloridaCWFL

You might have to take my word for it, but there really is a bar to go with “CWFLs Revoked and not Reinstated”.  The “problem”, so to speak, is a matter of scale.

From 01OCT87 to 31MAR17, Florida has issued 3,518,256 Concealed Weapon or Firearm Licenses – their version of a “concealed carry permit”.  As of 31MAR17, 1,747,635 of those licenses are still active.  Likewise, as of that date, 11,916 permits had been revoked, but 1,048 of those revoked have been reinstated leaving a total “revoked but not reinstated” of 10,868.

In other words, out of the literally millions of permits that Florida has issued over the past almost-30 years, they have had a failure rate of only 0.309%.

On the other hand, in 2015, the total violent and property crime rate (since any felony alone is sufficient to get a license revoked, not just a violent crime) in Florida was 3,275.1 per 100,000 people.

Given that the total violent and property crime rate in 1988 were 8,937.6 per 100,000 people, it is entirely reasonable to state that Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License holders are at least 10 times less likely to break a serious law than “average” Floridians.  

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graphics matter, 2017 edition

“More data more better” is pretty much the rule when it comes to statistics, so I try to update the “graphics matter” series every year or so as my various sources update their data sets.  I missed a year somewhere in there, but I am happy to bring you the new, improved, examination of whether or not the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun deaths'” holds true.

The results… will not surprise regular readers.

AmericanPopulationFirearmsDeaths2017

That is the chart, but what about the actual numbers?

The two pertinent rates – the number of firearms per capita versus the number of firearm-related fatalities per capita – correlate with a coefficient of -0.79744, indicating a strong, negative correlation between the two sets of data.

If you look at the raw numbers – the number of firearms, period, versus the number of firearm-related fatalities, or “gun deaths” – they correlate with a coefficient of -0.27315, which remains a negative correlation.

As always, correlation does not necessarily indicate, or even come close to proving, causality; but I am also not trying to prove causality.  However, the notion of “more guns = more ‘gun deaths'” does try to claim causality, when there is absolutely no positive correlation to support such a causal link.

Therefore, the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun deaths'” still cannot be true.

(The previous version of this, along with a great deal more explanation, is available here.  The Excel spreadsheet from which I built the above graphic is available here.  My sources are the CDC’s WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports, the Small Arms Survey of 2003, the BATFE’s Firearms Commerce in the United States, the Shooting Industry News, and Radical Gun Nuttery.)

is “gun control” a “health issue”?

A very few folks have been making a lot of noise recently about how “gun control” – and specifically firearm-related deaths – is a “health issue”.

Unfortunately, the analogy falls flat on its face straight out of the gate simply because we only have some, if any, control over the current leading causes of death in America, while firearms are completely under human control.  Firearms are not a genetic marker that indicates your brain is going to start destroying itself as you get older – they only fire when a human makes them.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of diseases/ailments.

But if we were to ignore the lacking logical basis for such an argument, do the numbers even come close to supporting it?

Predictably, not so much.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 2,626,418 people died in 2014.  The ten leading causes for those deaths were:

  • Heart disease: 614,348
  • Cancer: 591,699
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 147,101
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 136,053
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 133,103
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 93,541
  • Diabetes: 76,488
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,227
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 48,146
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 42,773

A keen-eyed observer will note that “firearms” occurred nowhere on that list.  However, an argument could be made that “accidents” and “suicides” both include some firearm-related deaths, so let us take a page from our own playbook – the square root of 2,262,418 is approximately 1621, and that is the x and y dimension of the following graphic at full size (click to enlarge):

AmericanDeaths

Firearm-related accidents – perhaps the most accurate analog to diseases – are represented by the smallest greenish square inside the slightly larger one, and only account for 586 of the total deaths according to the CDC’s WISQARS system.  Even if one were to focus exclusively on firearm-related suicides – since “suicide” as a whole does make the top 10 – those are only 21,334 out of the total 42,773 deaths in that category; almost exactly half.  Suicide is most certainly a mental health issue, but even if you were to wave a magic wand and disappear all firearms, countries that have already gone down that path show us that suicides will still find a way.  Perhaps, in those cases, time should be better spent determining why people suicide, rather than abridging millions of Americans’ rights in a vain attempt to control how people end their lives?

Regardless, as we already know, firearm-related fatality rates are already dropping across the board, including accidents, without doctors’ unnecessary involvement in the politics of the situation.  I would suggest that their time is better spent focusing on the other diseases and afflictions in which they are subject matter experts, rather than sticking their noses into topics they know very little about, especially since some of those diseases individually account for an order of magnitude more deaths than people misusing firearms.

the destructive nature of firearm “buy-backs”

the destructive nature of firearm “buy-backs”

One of the favorite feel-good policies of “gun control” advocates is the implementation of “gun ‘buybacks'”.  Ignoring, for a moment, the glaring grammatical and logical problem in a government “buying back” something it never owned to begin with, there is another fly in the ointment: “buybacks” simply do not work.  The police know they do not work, even anti-rights organizations know they do not work, but countless municipalities continue to flush money down the drain buying, and sadly destroying, junk guns and pieces of history.

That last bit is the real source of frustration.  How many families inherited their grandfather’s bring-back GI 1911, did not want to have anything to do with it, and turned it over to the police for a $100 gift card?  (For reference, good-condition World War 2 1911s can sell for over $2000.)  We know of at least one legitimate Sturmgewehr 44 that was saved from becoming an iron brick by way of a police officer who knew what he was looking at, but how many similar, irreplaceable pieces of history have been destroyed out of ignorance and a misguided need to “do something”?

For example, I have a somewhat unique and definitely interesting firearm whose very metal tells a story all its own, but if it had been owned by a different series of people it may very well have been destroyed for no better reason than, “I don’t want it.”  Thankfully, I did want it, and the rest, as they say, is history.

These days, saying the word “Webley” in a gunny geek crowd is a good way of determining if the folks you are speaking to are younger than me, my age, or older, but the honest truth is pretty much everyone who watches movies and likes firearms knows the name and the somewhat peculiar top-break reloading action.  Well, here is a further glimpse into history.

webley05

Webley” is actually short for “The Webley and Scott Revolver and Arms Company Ltd of Birmingham”, a once-Great British firearm manufacturing company founded in 1897 out of the combination of P. Webley & Son and W & C Scott and Sons (the former dating back to at least 1834) and closing in 2005.  The name was eventually purchased by an airgun company in 2008 and the doors were re-opened, but the production of all Webley-branded products – which is now limited to airguns and shotguns – appears to have been moved to Turkey.  Unfortunately, an insolvency meeting was held in 2011 and liquidators were appointed to wind up the affairs of the company; Webley’s eventual, repeated demise and sell-out can arguably be traced to once-Great Britain’s draconian firearm laws.

However, in their time, Webley & Scott produced some amazing firearms, not the least of which are the Mars Automatic Pistol (a handgun that is still considered “ridiculously overpowered” even to this day) and the Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver (yes, you read that right).

The handgun that put the company on the map of every movie-watcher and part-time gun aficionado; however, was known as nothing more than the Webley Revolver, or the Webley Self-Extracting Revolver if you want to get verbose.  We Americans typically know them as the Mark series, spanning from I to VI; in reality, the revolvers were not given that designation until 08 November 1887, when the British Army formally adopted the .455 Webley revolvers as the, “Pistol, Webley, Mk I”.  The Mark II was adopted 21 May 1895, the Mark III on 5 October 1897, the Mark IV on 21 July 1899, the Mark V on 9 December 1913, and the final variant, the Mark VI, on 24 May 1915.  All of the Marks had distinct and quantifiable improvements on their previous brethren (for example, increasing the cylinder diameter to use higher-pressure powder), and all but the Mark III found their way into extensive British service, starting with the Second Boer War in 1899 and running all the way through the Malayan Emergency ending in 1960 and beyond.

To begin with, the Mark series were chambered in .455 Webley; however, by the end of World War I, the British decided that particular caliber was maybe a bit of a handful for their soldiers, so they started looking for alternatives.  To put things in perspective, the hottest .455 Webley loading of the time was a 224 grain bullet going 700 feet/second at the muzzle, generating around 250 foot-pounds of energy.  In comparison, that is about what you can expect out of a modern warmish (but not +P) .38 Special round.  Apparently limp wrists were mandatory accessories for British officers (which, given the way they trained with these, seems kind of funny).

Upon hearing of the War Office’s desires, Webley teamed up with Kynoch Ltd (who apparently make much more interesting ammunition these days) in order to develop a stronger load for their old Mark III designs, which were chambered for a .38 caliber bullet.  The end result was a 200-grain bullet sitting on top of enough powder to push it 630 feet per second at the muzzle, generating about 180 foot-pounds of energy.  In other words, they re-invented the .38 Smith and Wesson cartridge created decades before, and developed a .38-caliber equivalent to a .22LR round.

But it worked.  In fact, it worked well enough that the British government thanked Webley very much for their efforts, then figuratively walked across the street to Enfield and asked them to make this revolver, with enough changes for it to be an “original” design, of course.  Webley was a bit put off by this, and tried suing to little success.  However, as was probably predictable given their history, Enfield were not able to keep up with the production demands of a nation gearing up for another war, so Webley was contracted to make their updated revolvers, annoyingly called the Mark IV.

The .38/200 Mark IV has almost nothing in common with the .455 Webley Mark IV aside from their names, so the latter is generally called the “Boer War Model”.  Why the former could not have been the Mark VII, I do not know.

But all of this history and backstory brings us to the revolver in the photographs.

Given that I am of the Indiana Jones / Torchwood generation, and have a particular fondness for break-action revolvers, I knew it had to have a good home, and the firearm only got more interesting when I started taking it apart.

webley07

First, it is a Webley Mark IV; it says so on the frame (well, kind of, the striking was not perfect).

webley06

Second, I know it is chambered for .38 – 767; it also says that on the frame.  “But wait! They are supposed to be chambered for .38/200, right?”  Right – the case for those cartridges is 0.767 inches long.

Third, to follow the theme, it also informs me that it was proofed to 3.5 tons per square inch, or 7000 psi.  By way of comparison, the SAAMI cartridge pressure standard for 9mm is 35,000 psi, and .22LR is 24,000.  “Anemic” would be a wholly generous way of describing the .38/200 / .38 S&W (at least those rounds loaded for Webleys; I understand Smith and Wesson revolvers can take a bit more pressure), since proof pressures are meant to be above standard operating pressures.

webley12

Fourth, this firearm really can be stripped almost all the way to bare metal using nothing more than a flathead screwdriver and an American nickel, and the latter is optional (but boy does it fit the cam lever lock screw well).  A pin, not a screw, is used to hold the bolt / cylinder catch in place, though, so I did not bother removing it, but I found this gentleman’s directions more than helpful.

webley08

Fifth, this particular Webley was fabricated in 1964, or, at least, its frame was.  To begin with, the serial number on the side of the frame – 37### – has that “B” stamped directly above it.  It turns out that “B” is not just a proof mark, but is instead part of the serial number itself, as better shown by the serial number hiding beneath the grip panels; this gentleman’s documentation indicates that number was struck somewhere between 1964 and 1968.

webley09

But that does not narrow it down to exactly 1964, does it?  Nope.  But this proof mark does.  What you see there is a pair of crossed halberds, with what could be a “P” in the left quadrant, a “B” in the right, and a “5” in the bottom.  According to this image, the Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House reviewers used that stamping pattern between 1950 and 1974, with “PB” indicating 1964, and the “5” being the inspector’s number.

webley04

And while the date is pretty much set with those two stamps, a third stamp – the “BNP” with a crown over it, which stands for “British Nitro Proof” – was struck on the cylinder, frame, and barrel assemblies, and according to this handy-dandy listing of proof marks, that particular stamp was only used after 1954.

While the frame was made in 1964, the cylinder is harder; its serial number is “B 49 # ##”, which puts its production date between 1968 and 1970.

webley13

Sixth, mine is thankfully not mutilated with a pointless cross-bar safety, but it was fitted with a drop safety, the external indication of which is the extra, protruding screw on the right side of the frame above the trigger.  This screw operates as a hinge point for an internal linkage that connects the trigger to a little steel bar that goes up a machined groove to (kind of) block the hammer unless the trigger is actually pulled.  From experimentation, though, the springiness of the steel leaves something to be desired in regards to its efficacy.

Seventh, whoever fitted it with that safety did not even so much as blow out the frame after it had been installed.  There were still metal shavings all over the place.

webley03

And now we get interesting.  To the left of the serial number you see a Star of David with what appears to be a bracket laid down on its side inside it.  To the right, there is a circle with a “y” with a really long tail underneath it.  It turns out that is not a bracket, nor is that a “y”.

The former is a “nun”, and the latter is a “tsadi”, and as you probably have guessed by now, the two being stamped on the receiver indicate this was sold to Israel at some point, probably back when the country was still new and was desperate for any and all firearms they could get their hands on.  The tsadi would seem to indicate Israeli Defense Force usage, given that it is the first letter of “Tzahal”, which is the Israeli name for the IDF.  But the line between IDF and “police” was somewhat… vague back then.  In all likelihood, it was carried around by civilian or military police, and then somehow found its way back here without importation marks (I hypothesize that “in someone’s luggage” is a wholly acceptable explanation up until a few decades ago).

The only two stamps I have not been able to sort out are on the pistol grip underneath the grip panels – a “Z” and a “V”, without any crowns, halberds, or any other decoration.  If it were really an N (but it is definitively not), it might possibly indicate use by the Royal Navy, and if the V had a crown with it, it would indicate it was “Viewed” (i.e. accepted as usable), but that does not appear to be the case.

Yeesh.  Do you think our kids will have as much fun taking apart our guns and trying to figure out what we were scribbling on them? In other news, someone needs to take the Brits’ stamps away from them; it is almost like they were trying to create a Victorian style of hieroglyphics.

So we have a British-made firearm that was built on a modified form of a design that had already been around 77 years at the time and was then sold to the still-new nation of Israel where it served in their defensive forces for some period of time before making its way back to America and my own safe.  And yet how many of its brethren were found in the back of a dresser drawer, wrapped in oilcloth, survivors of any number of wars… and then unceremoniously dumped into a smelter simply because the person who knew what s/he had was dead?  All that history, stamped into their metal, lost

This is analogous to grinding Native American arrow heads to dust, or melting down Viking swords simply because they are scary.  Or, more recently, burning books or destroying cultural heritage simply because you do not like it.

Firearms are not for everyone.  That is not only fine, that is great; the world would be a boring place indeed if we all had the same hobbies.  But please, if you do not want it, take it to a firearm store and sell it to them – whatever price they give you will certainly be better than the chump-change gift card the police department is handing out.  I promise you that no matter what the firearm, there is someone out there who will put it to a lawful, peaceful purpose, even if that purpose is only “taking up space in my safe”, as my Webley has been doing.

(Note: Most of the information in the paragraphs preceding the pictures came from the List of Changes in British War Material, by way of Wikipedia.  Unfortunately, I do not have a good link for the former – it is apparently a periodical put out by Her Majesty’s Stationer’s Office; if anyone has any better information, or a good single-source link for the history of Webley revolvers, feel free to let me know.)

putting firearm owners in perspective

According to the United States Census Bureau’s Population Clock, there were 317,474,097 people in America at the end of 2013.

Based on polls conducted by CBS News, the General Social Survey, Gallup, ABC News, The Washington Post, and CNN, it seems safe to conclude that at least a third of all Americans own a firearm, or live with someone who does.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports for 2013, there were 273,044 total violent crimes committed with firearms (8454 murders, 122,266 assaults, and 142,324 robberies).

At full size (click to enlarge), the following graphic is 1029 pixels by 1029 pixels, and thus each pixel on it represents 100 firearm-owning Americans.  The small, red square in the lower-right corner of the graphic is 52 pixels by 52 pixels, and thus each pixel on it represents 100 violent crimes committed with firearms.

gunownerperspective

Even if you assume that every single violent crime committed with a firearm is committed by a separate firearm-owning American*, we are talking less than 0.26% of the total firearm-owning population of the country.  Yet “gun control” supporters are sanguine with limiting, abrogating, or outright denying rights to the entire blue area, all in the blind, baseless hope that their policies might reduce the size of the red square.

Of course, as we already know, that red square is shrinking all on its own despite – or, perhaps, because of – the increased number of firearms in citizens’ hands, the increased number of concealed carry permits, the fact that every state in the union now has some form of carry permit system, the increased prevalence of Constitutional Carry, and all of the other countless ways pro-rights activists have been preserving and protecting Americans’ rights.

(* – This is, of course, a horrible assumption to make, given America’s high recidivism rate.)

the ineffectiveness of “assault weapon bans”, part 5

the ineffectiveness of “assault weapon bans”, part 5

One final nail in the coffin of “assault weapon” bans is that there is no single, universal definition of “assault weapons”, so what is it, exactly, that statists want to prohibit?

Wait, no actual definition of “assault weapon”?  What do you mean?

The Federal ban of 1994 did set something of a foundation for all of the future, state bans, but even those deviated enough from the template as to have almost no consistent classification.  Consider the below table for a comparison of all the various laws’ restrictions and regulations:

assaultweaponbancomparison

“Y” of course indicates that the law at the top of the column has a restriction on the feature to the left in the row, and “N” means there is no such restriction in that law.

“I” indicates that multiple laws have similar restrictions, but they are inconsistent on the details.  For example. the California “assault weapon” ban prohibits semi-automatic firearms with fixed magazines and capacities greater than 10 rounds, while New Jersey sets that bar at 15.  Likewise, the lists of specific makes/models are so wildly different – and frequently target firearms no longer even produced – that it would take a whole separate table to adequately compare them.

Finally, Hawaii can be largely disregarded for anything except pistols – their laws are largely silent on rifles and shotguns.

So let us look at rifles.  All relevant states seem to agree that semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines as well as folding or telescoping stocks, flash suppressors, and grenade launchers are evil, though they cannot agree on whether only one of those final three items is enough for the whole rifle to be evil, or if two are required.

If you examine the table, you will see that there are another nine features for rifles that may or may not be evil, but the states simply cannot seem to agree on the finer points.

Even more amusingly, grenade launchers are already heavily regulated by the National Firearms Act, and both they and their ammunition are impressively difficult and painfully expensive to procure.  Additionally, Connecticut goes to the point of classifying rifles capable of “fully-automatic” or “burst” fire as “assault weapons”, despite those already being massively regulated and functionally banned by the combination of the National Firearms Act and the Hughes Amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act.

“Double Secret Probation” was supposed to be a joke, not reality.

Moving on to pistols, Maryland is largely silent on them, aside from providing a list of makes/models that constitute “assault pistols” and then only permitting firearms on the “handgun roster” to be sold in the state, so we will disregard them for this section.  The remainder of the states seem to agree that semiautomatic pistols with detachable magazines as well as a magazine that inserts into the firearm somewhere other than the pistol grip, threaded barrels, and barrel shrouds are all evil, but, again, the “one feature” / “two feature” tests are inconsistent among the laws.

Seven other features are mentioned by various laws, including some positively bone-headed ones like pistols with folding or telescoping stocks, or pistols with thumbhole stocks.  I hate to break it to the fine legislators of the great state of New York, but there is no such thing as a “pistol” with a folding or telescoping stock – federally, a firearm with a pistol-length barrel and a shoulderable stock is a short-barreled rifle, and, again, is subject to the National Firearms Act.

It’s always comforting when legislators have no idea what they’re regulating.

Finally, when it comes to shotguns, the only thing the relevant laws can agree is evil is a semi-automatic shotgun with a folding or telescoping stock, or any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

The laws cannot seem to agree on any of the other four possible restrictions, including detachable magazines, oddly enough; those are a consistent point of contention for rifles and pistols, but apparently are less of a problem for shotguns.  Of course, handguns with revolving cylinders are perfectly acceptable in any of the jurisdictions that are or were limited by “assault weapon” bans, but revolving cylinders are apparently evil for shotguns.

Consistency has never been a strong point for “gun control” legislation, or supporters.

So what do “gun control” supporters mean when they say they want to ban “assault weapons”?  No one knows, not even them.  But that’s why the concept is so powerful – it can be redefined and re-engineered to demonize any firearm that the very few funders of the “gun control” movement care to target.  One wonders if those being blindly lead around by those few 1%ers realize how little they, or their supported politicians, know about the very things they are trying to restrict.

Original Excel File

References:  

Public Law 103-322 Title XI Subtitle A Section 110102 Subsection (b), also known as the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act

California Penal Code 30510-30515

Connecticut General Statute Title 53 Section 202a

Hawaii Code Division 1 Title 10 Section 134-1

Maryland Code Title 4 Subtitle 3 Section 4-301

Massachusetts General Law Part I Title XX Chapter 140 Section 121

New Jersey State Code Title 14 Chapter 54 Subchapter 1

New York Penal Law Part 3 Title P Article 265 Section 00 Subsection (22)

Disclaimer:

I am not a lawyer, I did not play one on television, and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  It is entirely possible that I misread the miles of legalese I just waded through over the past few days, and either missed a pertinent detail, or misread one.  If you find or notice any errors in the above table and associated post, please feel free to let me know, and I’ll update it accordingly.

graphics matter, part three

graphics matter, part three

As previously demonstrated, the hypothesis of “more guns = more deaths” not only is not true, but cannot be true historically in the United States.  Despite that simple fact, “gun control” supporters still bitterly cling to the irrational notion that firearms are naught but the tools of murder and mayhem.

So let us humor them for a second.  We know that the number of firearms in circulation in America has been steadily increasing for as long as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has been tracking the relevant numbers.  Likewise, the raw murder count in the States has dropped to numbers unseen since the 1960s.

However, what about the percentage of those murders committed with the assistance of a firearm?  After all, if firearms’ only purpose is to murder other people, one would think that, even if the overall murder rate is going down, the percentage of murders that involved a firearm would be going up given the increased number of firearms in the country.

Right?

Well, as with many of the things “gun control” advocates purport to be “common sense”, the reality is a little more complicated:

firearmsandmurders

The grey bars track the percentage of murders that were committed with the assistance of a firearm, and, as you can see, those bars do not come anywhere close to echoing the consistent climb of the number of firearms in the United States.

In fact, the trend line for the percentages is functionally level, with a slope of 0.0006, compared to the slope of 669.64 for the number of firearms in America.  Oh, and yes, that does mean that, averaged over the past 20 years, at least 6,696,400 firearms have been produced in or imported into the United States every year.

Despite the nearly level trend line of the percentages, there does exist a correlation of 0.14784 between the number of firearms in the United States and the percentage of murders committed with the assistance of firearms.  This is, however, a tremendously weak correlation, and given the very narrow range of percentages – a maximum of 64% and a minimum of 55% – it is certainly not enough to draw any kind of causal relationship.

So, could the increased number of firearms in public circulation lead to a higher percentage of murders involving those firearms?  Based on the available data, yes, it is possible… but it has not been happening consistently yet.

Source *.xls file.

Other Sources:

Small Arms Survey of 2003

Shooting Industry News