Posted by: Jay | March 24, 2008

Numbers and Statistics

What is the quip about that? Statistics lie and liars use statistics? Is that how it goes?

Both Sebastian and Uncle link to a piece by Josh Horowitz at the Huffington Post where he’s going on about safe storage of firearms. What caught my eye was the stats Horowitz started to use to justify his position:

The fact is that guns in the home are a far greater threat to one’s family and intimates than to any imagined criminals. Living in a home where there are guns increases the risk of homicide by 40 to 170% and the risk of suicide by 90 to 460%. With its handgun ban and proactive safety and storage laws, the District of Columbia, in comparison with the 50 states, enjoys the 17th lowest accidental gun death rate and the second lowest suicide rate.

Ok. Now, this is one of those things that can be read by anybody and would be believed simply because it’s there. The link regarding the increase chance of homicide or suicide goes to a New England Journal of Medicine article that claims the exact same numbers, but provides no source for those numbers. Why should they be believed?

Horowitz also justifies the DC ban by discussing their glowing low rate of accidental firearm deaths and low suicide rate. Ok, so what? Since when is it the government’s place to protect us from ourselves? I cannot concern myself with whether or not the guy up the street might decide one day to blow his brains out with his own gun. Do I care? Sure. I don’t want somebody to die and in my view, there’s nothing so terrible that can happen to a person wherein suicide becomes the final solution. That being said, another person’s suicidal tendencies should not put up a prohibition for me to own a handgun. Besides, gun control advocates are always talking about keeping guns out of the hands of “dangerous criminals.” Only when it suits their agenda do they start bringing up statistics about accidental deaths and suicides.

None of it matters because regardless of DC’s restrictive gun laws, it is still far more likely for a person to die from a firearm related death there, than anywhere else in the United States. This post here has CDC numbers. Nearly 27 out of every 100,000 residents in DC will die from a gunshot wound.

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