As part of their ongoing effort to participate in a national debate about appropriate gun laws the NY Times editors chime in yet again with a Dubious Fact du Jour:
The States Confront Gun Violence
State gun laws matter. Of the 10 states with the most restrictive laws, seven also have the lowest gun death rates, according to a study by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Similarly, lax gun laws correlate to a high level of gun deaths.
Hmm, yet I happen to know (based on my kids' ski habits) that Vermont has roughly no gun laws and no crime. So without even peeking I am betting that "lax" gun laws correlate well with widespread gun ownership and a high suicide rate using guns.
No, I didn't cheat - here is the study to which the editors refer, and I will extract the cool map:
Let the barrel-fishing begin! Montana and Wyoming will have very low crime rates (FBI UCR, 2010), yet up there in Big Sky country guns are killing people like flies. Let's compare homicide rates and overall "gun violence" rates including suicides for Montana, Wyoming, and California. The data source is here.
Overall violence related firearm fatality, including suicide:
CA - 7.78 per 100,000
MT - 16.07
WY - 15.6
So far so good for the Times editors. But how about homicides?
CA - 3.60 per 100,000
MT - 1.72
WY - 00 -
Ooops. FWIW, I say Wyoming should be 0.9 based on the UCR showing 5 homicides in a state of 560,000, but either way, it is far below California.
Well - I think preventing suicides is a laudable objective and I am sure that some impulsive suicides carried out by gun might not happen at all if the alternatives were pills, ropes, or tall buildings.
On the other hand, Obama was inspired on gun control by the Newtown school shooting, which was not a mass suicide. Nor was the Aurora movie theatre shooting, the Tucson shooting, and so on. And I can't imagine how limiting ammunition magazines to ten rounds or banning assault weapons would reduce suicides, but I try to learn something new everyday.
If the President and the NY Times want to point to a school shooting and talk about preventing gun violence, maybe they should focus on preventing homicides. Unless they are trying to dupe their readers, of course.
SINCE YOU ASK: The overall suicide rate in Montana and Wyoming is about 23 per 100,000. In California, it is about 10.5. Why the disparity? I am out of ammunition on this topic.