Gun Facts: Correlation Does Not Equal Causation

 Mr. Parker's most recent mug shot (courtesy northjersey.com)

Gun control advocates aren’t stupid. They know that “a correlation between two variables does not necessarily imply that one causes the other” (wikipedia.org). For example, in the last 14 years, the FBI’s mandatory firearms purchase background system denied some one million sales. In that same time frame, firearms-related crime continued its historic decline. Professional bloody shirt waver Colin Goddard would have you believe that the FBI’s system played a crucial role in reducing “gun violence”—without acknowledging the system’s false positives and the fact that criminals can find alternate ways to tool-up. Or all the other variables such as, say, the soaring number of Americans who’ve applied for a concealed carry permit. The media encourages this kind of illogical thinking. Try this one [via foxnews.com]: “Louisiana authorities say an 8-year-old boy intentionally shot and killed a 90-year-old woman who was his caregiver after watching a video game with violent themes . . .

East Feliciana Parish sheriff’s deputies did not provide a motive, but they said the boy was playing the video game “Grand Theft Auto IV” — a realistic game that’s been associated with encouraging violence and awards points to players for killing people — just minutes before the fatal shooting. The game is rated “M” for mature audiences and recommended for ages 17 and older.

And there you have it: violent video games cause firearms-related homicides. Setting aside the possibility that the young man might not have been right in the head or that the caregiver might have been up to no good or any number of other variables like, I dunno, coincidence (a.k.a., false synchronicity). Considering the fact that millions of non-‘”M” Grand Theft Auto players don’t shoot anyone ever.

Makes a good story though, especially if you’re trying to push an anti-gun agenda. Here’s another one [via nj.com]:

A block away from a Paterson press conference where Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) was discussing gun control legislation, a man was arrested Friday afternoon for carrying a pistol in his waistband, according to a report on NorthJersey.com.

Nyedair Parker, 21, of Paterson [above] was charged with possession of an unlicensed weapon, possession of hollow point bullets and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, according to the report.

Police received a phone call from an anonymous tipster who saw the gun tucked into Parker’s pants as he walked through a gas station parking lot. Parker was strolling on Lake Street, a block away from Pascrell’s press conference, when he was arrested.

A block away I tell you! One block!

Funny thing about this one, though. The original story at northjersey.com makes it clear that Mr. Parker simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s a punk, not another Jared Lee Loughner out to shoot a Congresscritter and as many innocent bystanders as possible (as implied by the virulently anti-gun nj.com]. Check it:

Apparently, Nyedair Parker didn’t notice all the commotion over on Carroll Street Wednesday afternoon.

While dozens of police officers, politicians, community activists and news reporters converged on St. Luke Baptist Church for a press conference about gun violence, authorities say Parker was walking down the next block with a revolver tucked in his waistband.

The 21-year-old resident of Auburn Street was charged with possession of an unlicensed weapon, possession of hollow point bullets and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, police said.

A cynical man might have a weapon under there. I mean, might conclude that foxnews.com and nj.com deliberately connected dots to make a point. But that would be an excellent example of assuming that correlation does not equal causation. Except, of course, when it does.

comments

  1. avatar KevinMA says:

    Sometimes they get the causality wrong, gun laws may have no effect on murder, but murder has a negative effect on gun laws.

    I love NJ’s ban on defensive ammo. Even here in MA a friend of mine was given a stern talking to by a cop for carrying FMJ’s instead of hollow points. “You’re going to shoot right through the bad guy and hit a bystander behind them with these” or something along those lines. Why doesn’t NJ get that? Or do they and hope they can use the shooting of the bystander to pass “tougher” laws?

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      “Or do they and hope they can use the shooting of the bystander to pass “tougher” laws?”

      Sadly, that would not surprise me at all.

      I take that back. I would surprise me because I doubt that the civilian disarmament shills are smart enough to think that far ahead.

    2. avatar AJ says:

      Remember, JHP rounds are commonly called “cop killer” bullets by the uninformed (read – media and politicians). That’s how they got banned in NJ. And that’s the play that other states are using, unsuccessfully to this point, thank Vishnu.

      1. avatar Rich Grise says:

        Huh. The last time I heard of “cop killer” bullets they were jacketed, “armor-piercing” rounds. At least those were the ones they showed on that particular TeeVee report.

    3. avatar Juliesa says:

      So I’m guessing this means zombie ammo is also illegal there. So glad my family escaped to a free state when I was a baby.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        New Jersey, the zombie-free state! Somebody with the wherewithal to do so should make an sell “Zombie-Free Area” signs.

        1. avatar Rich Grise says:

          Maybe this one’s better:
          http://richgrise.tripod.com/images/NoZombiesZone.jpg

          Feel free to download it and print it out – I got the zombie guy off the web somewhere, and just drew the red circle and stuff, so it has no copyright.

        2. avatar Matt in FL says:

          Are you looking for one like this?

          http://i.imgur.com/vLSYERm.jpg

        3. avatar Rich Grise says:

          Matt in FL:

          Yeah, something like that, but zombies are fictional, and Gun Grabbers are all too real. )-;

          Just for the record, we’ve been trying to tell the Church of Antismokerism the same thing since the 1990’s. And even the so-called “correlation” between smoking and cancer disappears when you look at the correlation between “personality type” and cancer. The vast majority of cancer befalls people with a type “A” personality – “hostility, impatience, difficulty expressing emotions, competitiveness, drive, perfectionism and an unhealthy dependence on external rewards such as wealth, status, or power.” – http://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.htm?idRegTest=1126

    4. avatar DaveL says:

      The gun grabbers don’t want to ban guns to improve public safety, they just want to ban guns. They’ll take any step they can towards that goal. Ban JHP ammunition today for being “cop killers”, ban FMJ tomorrow for overpenetration. It doesn’t matter to them if it’s internally consistent, as long as it gets the ban passed.

  2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    No one can ever truly prove anything with statistics. No matter how strongly two things correlate, there could always be an unknown factor that actually causes one or both of those things. In other words a person would have to be all knowing to say with certainty that one thing causes another. Last time I checked, no one knows everything.

    Don’t get me wrong. Statistics can be incredibly useful. When deciding where to drill for oil or something like that, use statistics all you want. When deciding whether to deny people their fundamental rights, do NOT use statistics. Human behavior is way too complex to capture with statistical models.

    1. avatar Pascal says:

      The progressive crowd just uses numbers to make believe there is some legitimacy to their argument even when the numbers do not add up. they count on the fact that the majority of the people will not bother to do the math to make sure it is correct. But, darn don’t it sound good!

      If they actually applied Probably and Statistics consistently, then they would know that mass shootings like Newtown have a probably 0.01% of occurring in any given day according to the FBI. But, since that is against their agenda, they will not bother.

      Numbers have been used to lie for years. My favorite book “Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists” was updated in 2012 and should be a must read for anyone and you should force your kids to read it in high school.

      My favorite twist is when the local news station complains that so and so spent “a half billion dollars” to make something seem worse or more expensive and the cost was something like $400,000 not close to the $500K that would make the phrase at least true. On top of other inflammatory words, the media has also taken to generous rounding up or down depending on how inflammatory they would like to be.

      Truth in general is being twisted and the media is more propaganda than factual reporting of events.

      1. avatar Rich Grise says:

        that’s a typo, right? A half billion isn’t 500K, it’s 500M.

        Carl Sagan once claimed that he had never said, “billions and billions,” but that he did emphasize the B in Billion to be sure that people would know he wasn’t saying “million.”

    2. avatar Rich Grise says:

      Perhaps unsurprisingly, fully 98.3% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

      On a lighter note, the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary doesn’t list the word “gullible.”

  3. avatar dwb says:

    The Obama admin and the EEOC are busy suing companies who use the background check system to screen employment applications, because the EEOC claims its discriminatory. Funny, you never heard about that from the media when it comes to gun control. I guess its ok to discriminate against people for their natural right to defend themselves.

    1. avatar Gtfoxy says:

      I will be researching this info. Thanks.

  4. Gun control advocates aren’t stupid. They know that “a correlation between two variables does not necessarily imply that one causes the other” (wikipedia.org).

    EXCEPT … if it supports their agenda.

    : )

  5. avatar Thomas Paine says:

    My favorite is in the 1930’s. The homicide rate went waaaaay down.

    National Firearms Act in 1934
    Repeal of Prohibition in 1933

    Choose wisely, depending on your team.

  6. avatar Matt in FL says:

    “The 21-year-old resident of Auburn Street was charged with possession of an unlicensed weapon, possession of hollow point bullets and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, police said.”

    Just think, if that guy lived in Florida he’d have only been charged with one crime, instead of three. So tell me again what those other two laws that he broke did to discourage him? After all, at least one of the charges is going to get completely dropped as part of a plea deal anyway…

    1. avatar Gtfoxy says:

      If their track record remains consistent, all will eventually be dropped.

  7. avatar mediocrates says:

    I’m calling Starbucks right now to DEMAND they keep violent video games out of their stores…

  8. avatar peirsonb says:

    “Nyedair Parker, 21, of Paterson [above] was charged with possession of an unlicensed weapon, possession of hollow point bullets and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, according to the report.”

    Clearly he’s learned his lesson. I recommend letting him go with a warning so that he can continue to straighten his life out…

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Someone forgot to do a background check… Tsk tsk!

      I leave a pad of 4473s and a pen by the safe so if I get burgled they can fill in their info. That way I can make certain that the transfer is all right and proper.

      1. avatar DaveL says:

        Yes, I’m sure somebody at a gun show somewhere must have looked at this guy’s teardrop facial tattoo and thought “Why, he seems like a fine upstanding young man. I’d like to hand him a functioning firearm while he’s standing right in front of me.”

  9. avatar BDub says:

    I’m still wrapping my head around the hollow point bullet charge. Are people just not aware that hollow-points are safer for bystanders and cops alike, than are FMJs?

    1. avatar Pascal says:

      Back in the 80s the anti-gun progressive crowd had them labeled “cop killer bullets” — just like Newtown they did a lot of hyperventilating and there was a call to do “something” and the attention grabbing fear mongering politicians latched on and “did something” by passing a bill that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. And thus, here we are today. Since the progressive rule the state and are void of all logic and sense and will protect this like a 5 year old protects their teddy bear, this will be an impossible law to change. In the end, yes this law will probably harm more people than it will save, but the progressives will never believe otherwise.

    2. avatar M4T5 says:

      Might be thier heads are “Hollow”.

  10. avatar Bob says:

    GTA has points? I seem to have missed a pretty critical feature.

    1. avatar Pascal says:

      Do you honestly expect a reporter to do research or ask questions? If every long gun is an AK-47 even when it is not, then all video games have points regardless of the actual truth. Don’t be silly to believe these people are paid to be accurate as long as there is a agenda to be pushed.

  11. avatar Hobbez says:

    Why is no one asking “WTF is an 8 year old boy doing playing an M rated game?” The damn “M” is there for a reason. What the hell has happened to parenting is this country?! The idea is that an adult is rational enough to know its just a video game, but when your 8, everything is a big fun game. Especially when there is no Mom or Dad around to tell you right from wrong….

    It’s not games or movies fault that kids do stupid things, its their damn parent’s fault.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      It’s not games or movies fault that kids do stupid things, its their damn parent’s fault.

      This can’t be true. I know kids with no parents and they do stupid things all the time.

    2. avatar Accur81 says:

      Your wondering about the game, I’m wondering why an 8 year old had access to a loaded handgun.

  12. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    The playing of GTA by an eight year old undoubtedly contributed to the fatal shooting of his caregiver.

    He was in a bang bang mood, and is at an age in which fantasy and reality aren’t yet fully separate from one another.

    He’s been conditioned that guns are not a serious threat; just reset the console and Ignazio the Nose comes back so you can shoot him again.

    This is identical to kids dashing across the street just as the light changes just to mess with motorists. That cars can permanently hurt a human never occurs to them, because they learned life from cartoons and video games.

    I nearly hit one in ’00 and my neighbor killed one in ’97. Not his fault at all.

    That some moron left a loaded and readied weapon (Who knows? Maybe GTA taught him to rack a slide — or was it a revolver?) accessible to an eight year old kid is the problem, let alone that said kid had never been initiated into the Mysteries of the Gun.

    The effect of a violent video game in this instance is that it taught rudimentary shooting skills and that shooting someone is repeatable fun.

    Sad, stupid and totally avoidable.

    1. avatar Ardent says:

      There is no 8yo or anyone who’s ever been 8 years old in my circle (and very very large family) that has ever had such an issue with fantasy and reality that they didn’t understand the difference between shooting people in a video game and shooting people in real life. They also get to drive cars and fly in video games, not things they can do in real life either. A 4 year old sure, and 8 year old knows the difference between reality and fantasy. If the facts come out there is going to be a lot more to this than a video game and a shooting.

  13. avatar Coloradan says:

    Politicians blame games and guns, gamers blame guns. Neither blame the parents. I’m so sick of this anti-gun hysteria.

  14. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

    Please tell me that the picture above is not the 8 year old kid, he looks to be as old as some 18-20 year olds. Maybe playing M rating video games ages you…

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      That’d be Nyedair Parker, the subject of the second half of the post.

  15. avatar the ruester says:

    It occurs to me that this “cause/correlation” argument was used in CO by the progressives to argue for AND against prohibition (of guns/pot)

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