VA: More Guns, Less Crime?

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Scorecard (courtesy bradycampaign.org)

I don’t think John Lott’s seminal work on the link between firearms ownership and crime rates—More Guns, Less Crimehas found a home in mass media’s collective conscious. Not if the subhead underneath Gun-related homicides and injuries down as firearm sales soar is any indication. “Analysis shows deaths have decreased in Virginia despite a surge in business.” Despite? How about because?  Virginia timesdispact.com‘s Mark Bowes jumps through a lot of hoops to avoid the MGLC conclusion. “Gun-related homicides and serious injuries from gun assaults in Virginia have been trending downward for at least six years, and a new survey suggests the state’s booming gun sales have not triggered an increase in the proportion of people slain by a gun or who use a firearm to commit suicide.” We’ll take it! But the numbers are a LOT more conclusive (looking) than Mr. Bowes’ initial indication . . .

When state population increases are factored in, gun-related homicides fell 37 percent, from 4.72 deaths per 100,000 in 2005 to 2.99 in 2011.

Injuries from gun-related assaults in Virginia that required hospitalization have declined four of those same seven years from 392 injuries to 283, a drop of 28 percent, according to Virginia Department of Health records.

This “despite” a 73 percent increase in firearms sales in Old Dominion over the same seven year period.

Virginia Commonwealth University professor Thomas R. Baker performed the statistical analysis on the Times Dispatch’s behalf. To say the Go Rams! egghead was taken aback by the data would be like saying Victoria Katsman has a sexy back. Prevarication thy name is Baker.

What’s more, “the increased availability of guns does not seem to correlate with an increase in the proportion of suicides and homicides by gun,” said Virginia Commonwealth University professor Thomas R. Baker, who in an analysis compared state vital records data on homicides and suicides with Virginia gun dealer sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“It’s actually quite surprising and the opposite of what I would have hypothesized,” Baker said. “I would have thought that aggregate increases in gun sales would directly correlate to aggregate increases in the proportion of suicides and homicides by gun. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

This “who knew not me but there it is” statement has landed Dr. B in hot water amongst civilian disarmament advocates. Unfrortunately, Dr. B doesn’t know hot to utilize the acronym FOAD.

Baker was strongly criticized by some gun control advocates in Virginia, who believed Baker was suggesting the increased availability of guns could be linked directly to the fall in crime.

“I never tried to argue that more guns led to less crime — just that more guns did not lead to more crime,” Baker said last week. “That was my only point.”

Baker said he’s not necessarily onboard with some academic studies that indicate more guns have caused a reduction in crime through deterrence.

“I don’t know if that’s true,” he said. However, the Virginia data “pointed out that that was possible.”

Confronted with the findings, VA’s gun control industry resorted to the only tactic left available: moving the goalposts. The article concludes with a debate about firearms and suicide which, as Virginia Citizens Defense League Prez Philip Van Cleave points out, is a whale-sized red herring. “Japan has a much higher suicide rate than the U.S., and virtually none of those suicides involves a firearm.” So now you know.

The article ends with a perfect example of firearms facts denial.

Marcella Fierro, who retired in 2008 as Virginia’s chief medical examiner, said it remains to be seen whether a correlation exists between a greater availability of guns and firearm deaths. It depends on “whose hands they are in,” she said.

“If they’re good citizens, they’ll act responsibly,” Fierro said. “But we’ll see if the number of suicides increases. To me, it really depends on that lethal triad of emotional illness/depression, alcohol and easy access to firearms.”

When it comes to infringing on Americans’ Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, losing the arguments means never have to say you’re wrong.