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, part two, 2017 edition

Last year’s edition of this post adequately explained the methods and reasons behind this post, so feel free to skim it if you need a refresher.  The sources remain the same:

So, with another year of data under our belt, does my answer to the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun violence’” change?

PopulationFirearmsCrime2017

Nope.

The short answer is that the rate of firearm ownership correlates with the rate of crimes committed with a firearm with a coefficient of -0.57582, showing a negative correlation between the two.

Likewise, the raw number of firearms in private hands correlates to the raw number of crimes committed with a firearm with a coefficient of -0.44568, also indicating a negative correlation between these two data sets.

In a shock to no one, the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun violence'” still cannot be true.

As always, please feel free to check my work (*.xlsx file).

 

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.)

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

the ineffectiveness of “assault weapon bans”, part 4

the ineffectiveness of “assault weapon bans”, part 4

Now that we’ve covered a variety of ways in which “assault weapon bans” do not and cannot meet their purported goals, let’s hear from the experts with regards to the efficacy of the 1994 Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, otherwise known as the “federal ‘assault weapons ban'”.  Unfortunately, this post will be markedly lacking in the “pretty pictures” department, aside from the above photo of the author with his not-actually-an-“assault-weapon”, as captured by the inimitable Oleg Volk.

To start you off, we’ll do something simple.  According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report for 2003, 390 people were murdered by criminals using a rifle, accounting for approximately 2.71% of the total number of murders that year (see table 2.12 – it’s a downloadable *.xls).  2003 is significant because it is the last full year that the federal “assault weapons ban” was in place, and arguably the year wherein its greatest impact could be felt.  Likewise, the overwhelming majority of “assault weapons” are rifles, hence the focus thereon.

Said ban ended, as designed, in 2004, and according to those who support it, the flood of “assault weapons” that followed should have driven that number of murders through the roof.  According to the FBI’s UCR for 2014 – the most recent year available – criminals employing rifles killed 248 people, accounting for approximately 2.07% of the total number of murders.

Not only did the total number of murders go down from 2003 to 2014, but the total number of murders that involved rifles went down faster.

In fairness, though, prohibiting firearms with specific aesthetic features was only part of the ’94 ban; another significant portion was banning the production and sale of new magazines over a certain, arbitrary capacity limit.  So… how much of an impact did that have on things?

An unpublished research report submitted to the National Institute for Justice in 2004 had this to say on the matter:

Because the ban has not yet reduced the use of LCMs in crime, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.

“LCM” is, of course, shorthand for “large capacity magazine”, a wholly incorrect way of describing the standard-capacity magazines that came, as a standard accessory, with “assault weapons” before the ineffective ban.

The 2013 Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies published by the National Institute of Justice followed up to this report with:

With an exemption the impact of the restrictions would only be felt when the magazines degrade or when they no longer are compatible with guns in circulation. This would take decades to realize.

In other words, a magazine ban would only work if the government were able to convince every American citizen to give up their prohibited magazines, and given that New York has had maybe 4% compliance with their ill-named SAFE Act… well, good luck with that.

Circling back to that 2004 report, its opinion of the ban as a whole was not… encouraging for its supporters:

However, the decline in AW use was offset throughout at least the late 1990s by steady or rising use of other guns equipped with LCMs in jurisdictions studied (Baltimore, Milwaukee, Louisville, and Anchorage). The failure to reduce LCM use has likely been due to the immense stock of exempted pre-ban magazines, which has been enhanced by recent imports.

[…]

Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.

In other words, whatever marginal impact the “assault weapon ban” had on crime was already offset by criminals employing other tools – including ones grandfathered into the ban – to perpetrate their crimes.

The 2013 Summary dashes the hopes of “assault weapon ban” supporters even harder:

Assault weapons are not a major contributor to gun crime. The existing stock of assault weapons is large, undercutting the effectiveness of bans with exemptions.

[…]

Prior to the 1994 ban, assault weapons were used in 2-8% of crimes. Therefore a complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides.

A National Academy study of firearms and violence concluded that the weaknesses of the ban and the scientific literature suggest that the assault weapon ban did not have an effect on firearm homicides.

[…]

Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence.

Firearms are, to put it mildly, a durable good.  Current estimates have the lowest conceivable number of “assault weapons” in the United States as somewhere around 5,000,000, with the actual numbers potentially being twice or even thrice that.  Any ban like the ’94 ban would leave every last one of those still in circulation and still functional, completely destroying any utility of the ban.

A ban that attempted to retroactively prohibit ownership of already-owned “assault weapons” and confiscate them from their owners would not go well.  The oft-vaunted Australian “buy back”* had a compliance rate of a whopping 19%, and there’s little reason to believe America would achieve higher numbers.

Looking further afield, an article published by Blau, Gorry, and Wade in the Applied Economics journal earlier this year concluded:

In addition, common state and federal gun laws that outlaw assault weapons are unrelated to the likelihood of an assault weapon being used during a public shooting event. Moreover, results show that the use of assault weapons is not related to more victims or fatalities than other types of guns.

They did find that the use of “high capacity” magazines correlated with an increased number of victims, but also found that the use of shotguns – almost completely unrestricted by bans – correlated with an even greater increase in the number of victims.

Another letter published by Gius in 2013 in the Applied Economics Letters journal stated:

It was also found that assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level.

On a related note, states with restrictive concealed carry laws were found to have higher firearm-related murder rates.

The most salutary thing a government agency can say about the “assault weapon ban” seems to have come from the Centers for Disease Control in their initial evaluation of the efficacy of various firearm laws:

Results of studies of firearms and ammunition bans were inconsistent: certain studies indicated decreases in violence associated with bans, and others indicated increases.

[…]

In summary, the Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.

It’s worth noting that the “laws reviewed” also included waiting periods, firearm registration, licensing of owners, restrictions on concealed carry, and other such “gun control” favorites.

“Assault weapon bans” can’t work mechanically, haven’t worked historically, and won’t work analytically.  Given that record of abject failure – or, at the very best, a record devoid of any successes – why do “gun control” advocates continue to call for these pointless and ineffective bans at almost every opportunity?

Perhaps your safety is not actually their priority?

(* – Like “assault weapon”, “buy back” is a 1984-worthy example of rectifying the language to engender support of a cause.  Firstly, how does a government buy something back when they never owned the “something” to begin with?  Secondly, employing the word “buy” implies that the exchange was voluntary, while the Australian “buy back”, and some American ones, are little more than mandatory confiscation with the arguable benefit of some limited compensation.)

graphics matter, part two

graphics matter, part two

Now that we have dispensed with the myth that “more guns = more gun deaths”, what about the second-most-favorite talking point of the “gun control” movement: “more guns = more ‘gun violence’“?

Well, the first problem is what, exactly, is “gun violence”?  For simplicity’s sake, and for the sake of actually finding relevant data, I am going to define “gun violence” as “any crime committed with the assistance of a firearm”, or “CCwF” for short.  Specifically, after consulting the Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s Uniform Crime Reports for 2013, we are going to consider murders, robberies, and assaults where the perpetrators employed a firearm.

As with the previous post, the Centers for Disease Control will be providing the population of the United States (though we will not be using WISQARS, since we are not interested exclusively in fatalities or injuries), the Small Arms Survey of 2003 will provide the starting point of our firearm count estimation, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and Shooting Industry News providing the production numbers, and Radical Gun Nuttery did the counting for the number of “shall-issue” / “Constitutional carry” states out there.

So, given all of those wonderful numbers, do more guns really mean more “gun violence”?

PopulationFirearmsCrimes

Nope.

For the numerically inclined, the rate of firearm ownership correlates with the rate of crimes committed with firearms with a coefficient of -0.58535, indicating a negative correlation between the two data sets.

Even when we consider raw numbers, the number of firearms in America versus the number of crimes committed with firearms correlates with a coefficient of -0.46199, still indicating a negative correlation.

In other words, the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun violence'” cannot be true.

Again, feel free to check my work (*.xlsx file); folks have pointed out mistakes I have made in the past, and I am always seeking greater accuracy.

Also, it is worth noting that somewhere in the 2012 to 2013 range, assuming the Small Arms Survey of 2003 is even close to accurate, America reached parity between its population and the number of firearms in its borders; there are enough firearms for every single American to own one.  I dare say our Founding Fathers would approve.