Tuesday, July 31, 2012

PJ Media � Ezra Klein’s ‘Facts’ About Guns and Violence Tell a Slanted Story

Link: http://pjmedia.com/blog/ezra-kleins-facts-about-guns-tell-slanted-story/?singlepage=true

Soon after the Aurora mass murder, Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein waded into the fray, citing curious data to “prove” that we need more gun control to make society safer. But what he said and how he said things show he’s just another anti-rights elitist using tragedy to advance his agenda.

Klein displayed bias by claiming that not politicizing the Aurora shooting is only to halt discussing gun control:

The aftermath of the Aurora, Colorado shootings has been thick with calls to avoid “politicizing” the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for “don’t talk about reforming our gun control laws.”

His assumption is code for “the only desirable outcome here is more gun control.” Klein’s politicizing is okay; your desire to have a viable self-defense tool—and not be held accountable for a murderer’s actions—is not.


1. America is an unusually violent country.

Klein supports this assumption by citing a researcher’s graph of assault deaths in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. By conveniently ignoring most of the dataset, he made it appear that America is much more violent than any other country.

The latest United Nations homicide data show that America tied Argentina for the 50th most violent country, again using murder as an indicator. Like Klein’s graph, this dataset consists of OECD member countries, except for Tajikistan, which had a lower murder rate and didn’t affect our ranking.


2. The South is the most violent region in the United States.

Here’s one fact Klein had right. The FBI divides America into four regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. In 2010, the South accounted for 41.5% of all violent crimes reported to the FBI. But Klein ignores relevant issues to create a simplistic conclusion.

Between 2000-2010, the South experienced a 22.3% decline in its violent crime rate, beating the U.S. decline of 20.3%.

Also, Klein doesn’t account for illegal immigration-related crime, which has a significant impact on southern states like Texas. For example, a 15 year old was charged with nine murders after crashing a van smuggling illegal immigrants near the Mexico border. Fifteen more illegal immigrants died recently when another smuggler crashed his overloaded truck. Minus the dead driver, that’s 23 more murders in Texas this year, all related to illegal immigration.


3. Gun ownership in the United States is declining overall.

Klein cited surveys by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) and Gallup as evidence that gun ownership is declining in America.

NORC received $300,000 from the Joyce Foundation in 2011. Joyce also gave the Violence Policy Center $500,000, and VPC is proven to manipulate data to advance their agenda. Joyce’s “gun violence” grantees are all demonstrably committed to gun control.

The Gallup survey shows that since 1991, gun ownership declined about 3%. But it also shows that ownership is the highest since 1996. Gallup recently found that support for bans on handguns and semi-automatic rifles reached an historical low.


4. More guns tend to mean more homicide.

Klein cited the Harvard School of Public Health—another Joyce Foundation grantee—which published research concluding that more guns equal more murder. But Centers for Disease Control data show the opposite: States with the highest gun ownership have the lowest murder rates. The graph below shows that right-to-carry states—with more liberal laws empowering citizens to carry handguns in public—average 17.4% lower murder rates than restrictive states.


5. States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.

To arrive at this conclusion, Klein included suicides. But suicide is not violence. For example, law enforcement doesn’t charge attempted suicides with any violent crime unless there was an assault on another (e.g. murder/suicide).

True, 2001-2002 CDC data show that states with higher firearms ownership have higher firearms suicide rates. But more guns doesn’t always mean more suicide. About 100 million guns were added to the civilian firearms inventory between 1991 and 2009, but the firearms suicide rate declined 17% while non-firearms suicides increased 22%. Using suicide to make a point about firearms-related violence is junk science that ignores the complex dynamics of self-harm.

6. Gun control is not politically popular.

That’s because gun control fails to work as advertised. Since the 1990s, pro-rights writers have been accomplishing top-notch research and getting the word out, resulting in more gun ownership and less stigma attached to being a gun owner.

There are 100 million gun owners of voting age, and they tend to be politically active. For example, many Democrats believe the Clinton gun ban was why Gore lost the presidential election.

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