giffords law center 2018 scorecard

No, sadly, I will not be embarking upon the venture of dismantling how the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence Ownership abused statistics in order to make their “Scorecard” say what they want it to.

Why?

Well, to begin with, they do not publish their vaunted “comprehensive grading rubric”, so there is no way to examine the source data.  And if you cannot see the source data, the “scorecard” is meaningless.

Worse, they openly admit to cooking the books.  For example, in reference to Alaska, their scorecard says:

GiffordsLies

Alaska did not pass any significant gun laws in 2017. Despite its remote location, Alaska exports crime guns to other states at nearly twice the national average and has the highest gun death rate in the nation.

First off, claiming that Alaska has “no law” concerning “Concealed Carry Permitting” is simply a bald-faced lie, as Alaska Statutes Section 18.65.700 clearly indicates.  Yes, Alaska is a Constitutional Carry state, but they will still issue you a license if you want one, meaning they do not have “no laws” about permits.

In the same vein, claiming Alaska has “no law” pertaining to “Background Checks” is a half-truth, at best.  No, the state may not have any such laws, but there are a number of federal laws that govern the sale of firearms, even in private transactions – but the liars at the Giffords Law Center want you to forget that.

Continuing with the text beneath the graphic, doing what the “gun control” extremists want you to do is rewarded, above and beyond simply having the laws in place.  Interestingly, this rather plainly exposes the incrementalist nature of the “gun control” movement – states will only keep getting a positive score for “passed significant gun laws” if they… well, keep passing significant gun laws.  In other words, “gun control” extremists are not going to be happy until all the books are burned.

Further, states are being penalized for crimes that were committed in other states, meaning that things like firearm-related murders are being counted twice (if the firearm used came from another state).

Finally and most damning, they freely admit to creating the same positive-feedback-loop that was so notable in the 2015 Brady Campaign “Scorecard”, by way of penalizing states for having high “gun death” rates.  They are literally attempting to correlate “gun deaths” against a score that includes “gun deaths” as one of its metrics – no wonder there is a positive correlation.  (And this is all without even getting into the intentionally-misleading notion of including suicides in the total “gun deaths” count.)

So I guess I should give their lawyers some credit – they finally realized that publishing their data only enables people like me to tear it apart.  But that just means they are compounding obfuscation on top of falsehoods and abuses of mathematics.

In other words, this is nothing more than “business as usual” for “gun control” extremists.

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graphics matter, demographics edition

By and large, I am generally disinclined to believe Pew’s / Gallup’s / [insert polling agency here]’s reporting of firearm ownership rates in America.  First and foremost, there are some pretty significant flaws in modern polling methods.  Second and perhaps more importantly, based on my entirely-anecdotal-but-decades-long experience with the firearm-owning public, the probability of an average firearm owner answering truthfully when a random stranger calls them on the phone or knocks on their door asking if they own firearm is… vanishingly small.

However, exclusively for the sake of discussion, I am willing to accept a small part of this 2017 Pew Research Center report on the demographics of firearm ownership.  If you read through it, you will see that people who live in rural areas are approximately 2.4x more likely to own a firearm than people who live in urban areas (46% of rural residents reported owning a firearm, versus 19% of urban residents).

Given that we are talking about rates, Pew has already normalized for the substantial population differences between the two areas, so if the “gun control” extremists’ hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun deaths'” were true (we already know it is not, but bear with me here), one would expect rural areas to have a strictly higher rate of firearm-related fatalities, and probably close to 2.4x higher, right?

Unsurprisingly, that hypothesis continues to fail:

 

UrbanRuralGunDeaths
Please note that that the firearm ownership rate is per 100 people, while the “gun death” rate is per 1,000,000 individuals.  This is necessary to have both numbers significantly visible on the chart.  

 

Naturally, the firearm-related fatality rates come from the CDC’s WISQARS system, by way of their new “Metro / Non-Metro Indicator”.

Naturally, there will be some differences as to how WISQARS counts “urban” incidents as compared to Pew’s methods, but even accounting for those slight variations… well, the chart speaks for itself, as I always endeavor to accomplish.

You know, if they were not so busy trying to paint hundreds of millions of peaceful Americans as children-hating mass-murderers who deserve to have their Constitutionally-protected rights unjustly stripped from them, I would almost feel bad for the “gun control” extremists.  They just cannot seem to catch a break when it comes to the facts of the debate.

 

graphics matter, 2018 edition

Before I provide you this year’s update on the data, it has come to my attention that I need to clarify a few things.

  1. The hypothesis of “more guns = more deaths” is not my hypothesis, claim, or allegation.  In point of fact, it is the underlying, foundational argument of every “gun control” organization in the country, and I am simply accepting it, at face value, for the sake of examining it.
  2. I am not setting out to prove any causation.  In other words, I am emphatically not making the counter-argument that “more guns = fewer deaths”.  Such a claim would require a lot more work and study than I am willing to put into these posts, unlike those aforementioned “gun control” organizations, who are more than willing to perpetuate easily-believable falsehoods in order to line their pockets and unjustly limit your rights.

With those caveats made as explicit as I can, it’s time to give y’all the update to last year’s post.  So, with another year’s data under our belt, is the hypothesis of “more guns = more deaths” accurate?

… not so much.

PopulationFirearmsDeaths2018

There was a surprising uptick in firearm-related fatalities in 2015, but over the course of the 34 years tracked, the trend remains mostly the same.

The number of firearms per capita and the number of firearm-related fatalities per capita correlate with a coefficient of -0.74808 – indicating a very strong, but negative, correlation between the two data sets.

The number of total firearms and the number of total firearm-related fatalities correlate with a coefficient of -0.17420 – indicating a significantly weaker, but still negative, correlation.

As students of statistics remember, correlation does not prove, or even indicate, causation, but correlation is a requirement for causation.  In other words, given that neither the rates nor the raw numbers are positively correlated, then the increase in firearms in the country over time cannot be causing an associated increase in firearm-related deaths.

In simpler terms, the hypothesis of “more guns = more deaths” remains false.

(The first post in this series, wherein I spell out the above caveats differently, but I thought fairly clearly, is available here.  The source Excel spreadsheet from which I generated the above graphic and numbers is available here, should anyone care to check my work.  As always, my sources are the CDC’s WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports (for firearm-related deaths and the US population), the Small Arms Survey of 2003 (for a starting point from which to calculate the number of firearms in circulation), the BATFE’s Firearms Commerce in the United States (this time the 2017 edition, and for the number of firearms produced/imported), the Shooting Industry News (for firearm production numbers before 1986), and Radical Gun Nuttery (for the number of shall-issue/Constitutional Carry states in the Union).

the 2015 brady campaign state scorecard – how does it score?

Many years ago, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Ownership would release a yearly “Scorecard” to judge, based on their subjective and ever-changing standards, how well the fifty states were doing at implementing their desired “gun control” regulations.  Of course, we pro-rights activists would routinely dismantle, discredit, disprove, and generally destroy this “Scorecard” as being in any way useful, and they fell out of the habit of making such a fanfare of it.

In fact, the last one I can find published anywhere on the internet was from 2015, and was buried – almost like they were ashamed of it – in this rather paltry attempt at a knockoff of a TripAdvisor report of some sort.

From this 2015 “Scorecard”, we can determine a few things.

  1. No state, not even California, gets a perfect score.  Even with all of the draconian laws that California has in place regarding firearms, the Brady Campaign does not think it is enough yet.  This is, unfortunately, a typical mindset for the “gun control” extremists – they get a piece of the cake, and keep wanting more and more and more.
  2. The Brady Campaign has no idea what they are talking about.  For example, they penalize states 12 points for allowing non-residents to apply for carry permits by mail.  For some reason, though, they neglected to deducted 12 points from Connecticut’s, Idaho’s, and New Hampshire’s tallies for doing exactly that.  If we cannot trust them to get the basic facts right, how can we trust them on anything else?
  3. Speaking of “basics”, the “Scorecard” informs us, in big, bold font at the very top that “States can receive a maximum of 100 points”.  From checking the various positive point tallies, this is true.  However, it also leads the reader to believe that the states are judged on a 100-point scale.  This is false.  It appears possible for states to achieve scores of -47, and, in fact, Arizona has the distinction of the lowest score at -39.  How does a 147-point scale make any sense?
  4. Finally, the Brady Campaign had to blatantly massage their numbers to come out as “good” as they did, and they still are not that good.  But we will get to that.

All that said, the Brady Campaign incessantly claims that all of the various “gun control” laws they desire will somehow make people safer.  As such, it seems logical to conclude that – if they are correct – violent crime rates will be lower in states that have higher Brady Scores.

But are they?

Thankfully the Federal Bureau of Investigations makes finding state violent crime rates easy by way of their Uniform Crime Reports, and since this Brady Scorecard was published in March of 2015, we will compare it against the crime rates for 2014:

BradyScorevsViolentCrimeRate1

It does look like, impressively enough, that the Brady Scores and the violent crime rates of the various states correlate with a coefficient of -0.129, indicating a very weak – but negative – correlation.  This means that as the “Score” increases, the violent crime rate tends to decrease slightly.

HOWEVER, there is a catch.

There is a section of the Brady Scorecard entitled, “CATEGORY 3: MAKING OUR NATIONAL GUN VIOLENCE PROBLEM WORSE”.

In this category, states are rewarded, or penalized, for their “gun death rate”.  Notably, this number is cited as coming from “A Violence Policy Center analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data” from 2013; why did they not just use they CDC data directly, and why not the data from 2014 at that?  Regardless, I am attempting to correlate a state’s violent crime rate with a “Score” that already includes an aspect of violent crime – naturally, this will strengthen the correlation.  As such, I went through and removed those points – positive or negative – from all states’ “Scores”.

Additionally, states are rewarded or penalized in this category for the number of “crime guns” per 100,000 residents exported from their borders – that is to say, firearms that were used in crimes in other states, but were originally bought in the state they are being scored against.  Notably, not even Hawaii – an island with significantly restrictive “gun control” laws – received a perfect score for this section.  Also, it is intriguing that the Brady Campaign is willing to give any “crime guns exported per 100,000 residents” a positive score – apparently they are willing to tolerate up to 13.2 per 100,000.  But, regardless, if firearms are exported out of a state and used in a crime in another state, they have no bearing on the safety of the people in the state that they are being scored for or against.  As such, I went through and removed those points from all states’ “Scores”.

Now that the “Scores” have been corrected from the Brady Campaign’s blatant attempt at massaging the data, what is the outcome?

BradyCorrectedScorevsViolentCrimeRate1

In other words, the corrected 2015 Brady Campaign “Score” for a given state correlates with that state’s violent crime rate with a coefficient of -0.0539.

Which is to say, it doesn’t correlate at all.  

Put simply, a correlation of -0.0539, given a sample size of 50 entities, is not statistically significant.

Or, to spell it out explicitly, there is no correlation between the Brady Campaign “Scorecard” and the safety of those states’ residents.

There is no evidence, whatsoever, that the laws supported by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Ownership are making anyone any safer.  Granted, those laws do not appear to be hurting – that is to say, crime rates have not gone up due to the implementation of those laws – but they still amount to unjust limitations on an individual’s Constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms.  For that reason alone, they should be struck from the books; the fact that they are not helping reduce crime is merely icing on the cake.

(Now, the real question is how many anti-rights blogs and sites and whatnot will copy-paste the original graphic and its conclusion without copying the part after “HOWEVER”.  I would appreciate if my readers could keep me appraised of such attempts at cherry-picking, such that I can call them out as the liars they are.)

(As always, I make a point of providing my source data, especially since I had to correct the Brady Campaign’s blatant manipulations.  Speaking of, should they attempt to Memory Hole their 2015 scorecard, I have duplicated it, unedited, here.)

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.

graphics matter, international edition

Now that we have shown that the hypothesis “more guns = more ‘gun deaths'” cannot be true in America, what about on an international scale?

Well, this is where things get really complicated.

Not all countries keep good records of their respective murders, much less their respective firearm ownership, so we are going to have to do a massive amount of estimating.

For the number of firearms in civilian ownership, we will refer to the 2007 Small Arms Survey, Chapter 2, Annexe 3 (*.pdf warning) and their documentation of 178 different countries.  We will consider the numbers from every possible country in North, South, and Central America; North, South, Eastern, and Western Europe; Oceania; and a few other odds and ends to round out the data set to a good sample body of 100.  I used the average of the “Low Total from Outside Sources” and “High Total from Outside Sources” where available, and “Registered” if not, to generate the ownership numbers for the individual countries.  It is worth noting that some useful countries – like Denmark, India, and Luxembourg – are omitted from the survey; for these countries, the only numbers available are “Total from Regional Correlation” – i.e. they were making a guess based on the guesses they made around that country.

Likewise, the population numbers for the countries considered came from the same Small Arms Survey.

I hate to admit this, simply because I hate using Wikipedia as a primary source for anything, but the numbers of murders per country, from which I calculated their murder rates, is from the List of countries by intentional homicide rates.  As always, these numbers are subject to the inherent flaws in various countries’ recording methods, as well as the flaws intrinsic to Wikipedia itself.

It is worth noting that we are considering total murders this time around, rather than simply “gun deaths”.  If you think recording methods are inconsistent among various nations, just imagine how messy trying to track means of death would be.

Here is the end result:

GunsAndMurdersInternationally

You almost certainly will want to click on it to make it larger.

The line slanting down from left to right is the trendline of the datapoints; basically it shows that the correlation between firearm ownership rates and murder rates in the 100 countries sampled is negative, at a coefficient of -0.1832.  Note that this is a weak correlation, and thus cannot be considered binding.

In other words, as with the trend here in America, the hypothesis that “more guns = more deaths” cannot be true on an international scale.  I am not a betting man, but I am starting to see a trend here…

If you want to see what the other 100 countries were, since a goodly number are stacked on top of each other, the source data is available for your consideration.