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Normally Forbes does an okay job of presenting the facts, but when it comes to guns it seems they’ll let anyone with two brain cells to rub together publish an article. According to their latest gun control article, the fact that guns are killing more “young Americans” than cars, something must be done!. There’s just one problem: by focusing on “young Americans” they’ve skewed the numbers conveniently in their favor . . .

Gun related fatalities are disproportionately gang related. Some reports indicate that as many as 77% of all firearms-related fatalities are gang related. These deaths are concentrated in the 20 to 24 year old segment of the population. The death rate drops off significantly once people age out of the gang lifestyle, somewhere around 30-years-old. So the majority of these deaths among “children” are gang related shootings between criminals that no one except Mother Jones would call “children” (because mis-labeling adults up to the age of 24 is more convenient to make their emotional appeal).

Still, something must be done!

The problem is that this line of thinking: it falls squarely into the ludic fallacy — the idea that since we can express this figure as a probability that the probability applies evenly to the entire population. In reality, the probability that any given person will be killed by a car is relatively evenly distributed. There’s not much you can do to influence that probability other than not driving.

When it comes to firearms related homicide, the reality of the situation is that so long as you avoid associating with gangs and criminals you’ll have a ~77% lower likelihood of being killed by a gun. And when you throw in the rest of the population the author’s point becomes more deluded diluted. The probability of death by car accident remains constant throughout life but the probability of being killed with a gun decreases with age.

To the Forbes author, that logic screams “we need gun control.” To me, that screams “we need criminal control.” Specifically, gang control. But that’s a much more complex challenge with no apparent clear-cut legislative resolution, and people (like the author) are too lazy to try and fix it.

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  1. Read another Forbes article a few days ago, about Wal-Mart. Even tho Wallyworld honchos swore up and down the decision to stop selling ARs was strictly sales-related, the article insisted it was a political statement, implying it was brought about by such outfits as the faux “moms”. The article’s author personally engaged in a rather unseemly exchange with several commenters, waving the “dead children” bloody shirt while ranting about “assault weapons”. It looks like Forbes has indeed gone full retard vis-à-vis guns.

  2. Shhhh. Talking about “gang control” is racist.

    I’m happy when gang members are killing each other. Really, I am. I’m unhappy when their stray rounds kill or injure innocents, but if the community doesn’t give a shit and would rather riot for that fat bastard Mike Brown, then I’m fine with that too. Burn, baby, burn. And while you’re at it, gangsters, make a real statement and burn Forbes.

    • People who want our crime stats to look like Europe fail to understand that, for most of us, they are exactly like Europe. Murder is a gang problem. It is not a problem of the legal gun owning public. But still, guns are “icky” ’cause rednecks in pickup trucks. You never know, we fear for the children and Bambi.

  3. Sorry, edit time ran out. Just went to look at the article. Consists primarily of quotes from Everytown and similar outfits, along with the CDC study which they extrapolate to mean that guns kill more people than cars do, period, completely ignoring the limitation of the study to “young people”. The Wal-Mart article consisted primarily of quotes from Everytown, too. Either Bloomberg has bought Forbes, or they are not only full-retard on guns but are incredibly lazy, too.

    • Either Bloomberg has bought Forbes, or they are not only full-retard on guns but are incredibly lazy, too.

      Those alternative explanations are not mutually exclusive. Also, because socialists and left wing loonies hate work so much, they are drawn to “journalism” as a profession, since it requires nothing more than a vivid imagination.

    • Why is everyone here (that I’ve read so far in this thread – including the inital post) continuing the idiotic statements about people being killed “by” guns or cars?

      Motor vehicles can certainly malfunction and be the direct cause of people being killed, but except in very rare cases of malfunction, people who are injured or die from gunshot wounds are the victims of intentional or negligent use of the gun by individuals… and we all know this, so why use this false construct in our own discussions?

      • I think it’s semantic oversight, probably. I try to use “firearm-related” and “vehicle-related” deaths, which can be broken down, and compared, as firearm- and vehicle-related suicides, homicides, and accidents.

        To your larger point: I would not be surprised if (rate of) deaths actually caused by vehicles is very similar to the (rate of) deaths actually caused by firearms – i.e. deaths resulting from a mechanical malfunction. Neither happens with much frequency (AFAIK).

  4. “How to Lie With Statistics” – required reading in my first stat class. Much media seems oblivious. Maybe deliberately so to generate clicks and ad revenue.

  5. What the hell happened to Forbes? Still owned by Malcom Jr.? Or Steve-he comes across pretty rightwing when I occasionally watch Fox sunday. Oh well- they seem to have turned into just another rag…like way too many others(Economist,chicago tribune and other old irelivent media).

  6. Well, the first thing I notice is that that graph shows auto deaths higher in 2013. The second thing I notice is that the 2014 number are not real but only a projection from 2014 to 2020. Since it is currently 2015, I wonder why they couldn’t include the actual 2014 numbers?

    • Have those stats actually been released yet, or had they been released when the article/chart was put together? I’m certainly not defending the article, but I know that many government-released statistics lag by a full year or more. In the case of ATF gun-related stats, the lag is sometimes 2-3 years.

  7. Well – gangs exist to a large extent in order to sell illegal drugs. Forbes is in favor of legalizing drugs (I think) – so maybe this is just another argument in favor of legalizing the junk all the kids seem to have no problem getting already.

      • Gangs, thugs, raiders, barbarians and marauders all predate the DEA, the “War on Drugs” and the U.S. itself.

        There may be many sound reasons for legalizing drugs, but expecting bangers to stop banging isn’t one of them.

  8. “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
    – misattributed to English PM Benjamin Disraeli by Mark Twain

    • One has to take that quote in full context. If we look at the full quote, Twain was saying that HIS lack of understanding (as a metaphor for lack of understanding in general) of stats rendered them no better than a lie.

      We rail against the anti’s misquoting or misinterpreting all the time. We can do better.

      The problem is not “statistics.” Statistics are just numbers calculated from data.

      The problem is the MISUSE of statistics…or, as I tell my children “Math is a weapon. There are those that seek to use it to control you.”

      • I agree. Stats aren’t lies any more than words are lies (or that guns are killers, for that matter).

        All are just tools with legitimate and valuable uses, which can be put to nefarious uses, as well.

      • Mis-use is the problem. My nit would be that the mis-use is not “statistics”, but mis-use (or outright fabrication) of the data, from which “statistics” are derived. Too easy to focus on the result, and ignore malfeasance.

  9. It’s not complex at all. END THE DRUG WAR AND LEGALIZE ALL DRUGS. We already have addicts and hospital costs because of them, so lets at least kick out the legs of the drug gangs by taking away their revenue. If you can go to the DRUG STORE and buy morphine or cocaine or doobies next to the Marlboro’s(again) there’s no reason to kill people to maintain distribution territory. Know how we know that? Because nobody kills anybody over bootleg whiskey anymore.

    What’s left can be dealt with by a court system that now has a lot less to do. As the prisons empty they can be shut down.

      • Yep, too many police departments and city governments make money by keeping the status quo in the ‘war’ on drugs.

        • You’ve obviously never managed a municipal budget.
          The cost of law enforcement and a court system is enormous. It can easily eat up half the tax revenue of a city or county.

          It’s not the governments that are profiting from drug enforcement. It’s the EMPLOYEES of those governments, from street cops to prosecutors to jail guards. Their paychecks depend on having a law that gets broken a lot. So they continue to use fear tactics to beg for funding and keep the tax dollars rolling in.

          • Local officials have shrieked, but transferring low level (e.g., drug) offenders from CA state prisons back to local jails seems to have some merit. Most come from urban areas, but low crime rate rural taxpayers are forced to pay for SF, SD, & LA felons.

            it now seems to be putting more pressure on local government to look at lower cost options without sacrificing public safety.

        • “It’s not the governments that are profiting from drug enforcement. “

          Sure they are. I was referring to Asset Forfeiture. And yes…yes, I have seen agencies “profit” from this.

    • Ahhh…….but the continuing education programs at the community colleges will be overloaded, as all the former gangsters rush to enroll in ceramics, knitting, and conversational Cantonese classes!

      Because, as we know, evil people are only so because of federal legislation. Change the law and they’ll all straighten up and fly right.

      • That’s pretty silly, Johathan. Removing prohibition would remove the financial incentive for all those now engaged in smuggling and related violence. This is historic fact, in case you never read about alcohol prohibition. When people are able to trade freely, with willing customers, and also defend themselves, there is little incentive to engage in territory disputes and drive by shootings…

        The fact that there will always be evil people among us is obvious, which is why we prepare to defend ourselves and help others learn to do so. To continue this irrational prohibition only enables the evil to proliferate. Just as we know that no amount of “gun control” can remove guns from the hands of evil people, the “war on drugs” can’t eliminate the drugs or stop anyone from using them if they want them badly enough. Remember that neither guns nor drugs can even be eliminated from maximum security PRISONS. And I, for one, don’t wish to live in the sort of gulag where that might even approach possibility.

      • Jonathan,
        Many incarcerated lack high school diplomas and lack marketable skills. I do volunteer work in another jail system and see a lot of this.

        San Francisco SO recently published data showing their recidivism rate has declined to less than 50% of CA’s due to setting up a charter school within the jail. Not exactly comparable as jail population demographics and crimes are different from state prisons.

        SF’s program has now been expanded to include those on probation and some other CA counties are starting similar programs to test result.

        A program in Santa Clara County (SCC) CA offers something similar. Many of the students completing a HS diploma (not an equivalency certificate) there have spent time in juvie. The school includes daycare and a trade school (masonry, electrical, carpentry, etc.). They don’t offer, but promote free drug and alcohol programs too.

        Unlike SF, SCC’s program is largely funded via donations – not grants or public money.

        One of the graduates recognized me 2 days ago. He was part of a crew re-roofing a neighbors home. Was so happy to tell me what’s happened since we last saw each other. All good stuff.

        Separately, don’t get me started on SF Sheriff. Beat wife (she forgave him) and lied about it. Narrowly dodged prosecution.

  10. 77% less is in the same ballpark with the Yale Sociologists estimate that gang members and associates are 9x as likely to be murdered than other residents of the same ghetto neighborhood.

  11. Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Benchmarks. The 4 great falsehoods.

    The deaths of gang members should not be recorded in the obituaries. Instead they should be listed under civic improvements.

    Perhaps we should unleash Gurkhas in the gang infested areas.

  12. Gun-control freakazoids distorted data yet again to match their “feelings” agenda? You don’t say?!

    😮 <—- surprised face

  13. Copied entirely into the errant article’s comment section and fully attributed to our glorious leader with URL provided. Gratefully, not many of the commenters are buying into the patent BS.

  14. Who cares? Why didn’t they just give a chart of auto deaths vs cancer deaths, or falling deaths vs heart disease deaths. If they did, then no one would have bothered looking at it. But put guns in there and all the wacko liberal “I hate freedom and responsibility” types come out get excited. Not one more! they chant. But when it comes to other deaths they don’t even care.

    • Life is full of risks and in the end we are all going to die anyways. If you liberal statists want to live scared clinging to the gov for more control – do it, but don’t volunteer me for it with your vote.

  15. A couple other significant points:

    1) As usual, “gun deaths” includes suicides, accidental fatalities, and homicides.
    2) The number of teenagers driving has also been on the decline. (source)

    So, we have suicides – that happen regardless of means – conflated with firearms-related homicides and accidental fatalities, which erroneously inflates the number of “gun deaths” by almost a factor of 3. Then, we have a failure to recognize that the population of young drivers has declined by almost 1/3 over the period of time covered by the chart.

    And then on top of all that, there is the failure to separate gang violence (something that is always glaringly obvious when the age cut-off is somewhere in the mid-twenties).

    • Thanks for the link. It highlights something quite interesting, when comparing vehicle-related deaths to firearm-related deaths, when breaking those deaths down by type (suicide, homicide, accident).

      The point of the article is to demonstrate that the rate of accidental vehicle-related deaths is 25 times higher than the rate of accidental firearm-related death. But there’s another interesting point: just considering DUI-involved vehicle-related deaths – 31% of total vehicle-related deaths – as “homicide” rather than “accident” means that the rate of vehicle-related homicide is at least as high as the rate of firearm-related homicide.

      That’s pretty stunning. Actual so-called “gun violence” occurs at the same rate as “vehicle violence”.

  16. Whether it’s death involving a vehicle or a firearm, one can self-select out of much or most of that. Most firearm deaths are suicides, for example. Some will happen regardless, but others can be prevented with appropriate measures (not gun control).

    Stay out of and away from gangs, and your odds plunge further. Also, a near majority of murder victims themselves have criminal records. So don’t run with the bad crowd and you’re more likely to be fine. Women: female murder victims are most often killed by an intimate partner or acquaintance. So be careful about whom you allow into your life.

    Vehicle fatalities can happen to anyone, but there are behavioral influences there, too. Distracted driving, speeding, fatigue, aggressive driving and drunk driving are the top causes if auto accidents (and presumably auto fatalities). Nobody’s saying don’t drive at all, just don’t do those kinds of driving.

    Even seemingly external factors, like weather conditions and other drivers, are within your influence. Don’t drive in bad weather. Avoid driving late at night, or on weekends.

  17. End the war on drugs and that will virtually eliminate gangs and gang violence. Alcohol prohibition ring a bell?

  18. On NPR they “dedicated a full hour to the topic of gun violence”, which of course meant an hour in the echo chamber. They compared gun laws to automotive safety again and again, stating that cars have become safer with fewer deaths over the years because of advancing legislation over time, an idea that was presented without a single supportive detail. That is comparing apples to oranges. Compare vehicular accidents and firearm accidents, the number of people that die in a firearm accident is almost non-existent statistically. A fair comparison would be to examine how safe people are if someone drove an SUV through a group of pedestrians. The driver is perfectly safe, the pedestrians are not. Secondly, the “public health” perspective is statistically misleading, downright wrong, and can only lead to full confiscation. It counts suicides, gang activity, justifiable homicides and all other deaths and leads people to assume everyone is at equal risk of “random gun violence”. They use rare events to say,”this happens everyday and it could happen to you”. According to the “public health” model guns are the disease and the only way to end the deaths is to remove the disease entirely. Although the commentator said he wanted small reforms they can only be a road to full confiscation according to a medical model. To them guns are the cause of suicides, gang violence, random violence, crime, and spree killings because they have no interest in even discussing the real underlying issues.

  19. Steve Forbes still retains CEO title and a considerable ownership stake. He doesn’t seem to be anti-gun per se. A bit dated, but see

    Forbes also published

    Forbes has endorsed special units

    but the reckless behavior in the recent innocent bystander death could be a fluke or illustrating yet another problem with PD training.

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