Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'm just a redneck but something doesn't seem to be adding up.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence released their 2011 score card.  Each state is given a score based on whether or not the state has a law on the books supported by the Brady campaign "researchers." If your state has more gun control laws supported by the Brady campaign on the books, you get a higher score.  They declare on their website that you can find out if your state has "strong gun laws to prevent gun violence."  So I figured I'd take a look.

My current state of residence, Massachusetts scored 65 out of a possible 100 on the Brady score card.  This is not surprising to me.   I had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get my license to carry concealed.  Neighboring states Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine all scored 6 points out of a possible 100.  Also neighboring Massachusetts; Connecticut scored 58 and New York 62 out of 100.  The highest of all 50 states was California with 81.  If the theory that more gun control reduces violent gun crime is correct, we could come to the conclusion that the states with the highest scores from the Brady campaign would have the lowest violent crimes rates.  More gun laws = less violent crime right?  Read on, friends.

2011 crime statistics have not yet been finalized by the FBI so the 2010 rates will have to do.  This is from the FBI website and you can go look it up yourself if you like.  I'm looking at the 2010 violent crime rates per 100,000 residents.  That is based the total number of violent crimes, that's all violent crimes including those committed without firearms.  I chose to use that number because for all violent crimes, the tables weren't broken down as to whether a gun was used in the commission of the crime by state.

We'll start with those single digit Brady score card states:  VT: 130.2 / 100k,  ME: 122/ 100k,  NH 167/100k.  While I don't expect there to be a direct correlation between more laws and less violence, you ought to see a drop, if the Brady campaign is right.  Well, here's the smoking gun, if you'll excuse the expression.

Massachusetts had a violent crime rate of 466.6.  That is better than 3 times the crime rate in the neighboring states that had single digit scores from the Brady campaign.  Some might argue that the rural nature of NH, ME and VT allow for that lower crime rate and it isn't a fair apples to apples comparison.  Bullshit says I.  If the Brady campaign is going to say gun control = less gun crime then it doesn't matter where it is for that concept to apply.  If the real statement is gun control= less gun crime in urban areas, that's a different argument and it isn't the argument that the Brady's make.  Just to humor the argument a bit,  let us consider the states to the south of MA that have large cities.  Those would be Connecticut and New York.  Both states also have gun control on a level similar to Massachusetts.

Connecticut with a score of 58 on the Brady Campaign's score card has a rate almost half of MA with 281 violent crimes per 100k residents.  New York with a score of 62 from the Brady campaign has a violent crime rate of 392 per 100k.  With neighboring states that have large metropolitan areas with similar gun control measures like NY and CT and they still have a lower rate, clearly there is some other factor at work.

It is the factor that never gets discussed by the upper middle class people who are the bulk of the gun control advocates.  That factor is poverty stricken people who have no hope for the future.  If you figure your life is already shit and going to remain shit you've got nothing to loose by mugging a guy in a suit, knocking off a liquor store or killing the rival drug dealer down the street or the rival moonshiner the next holler over.  Even if you get caught selling crack, meth, moonshine etc.  or get convicted for murdering the competition, it's a good bet you're at least going to three squares and a place to sleep for the next 20 years and that's not as bad as sleeping on the floor with the rats and the roaches.

The state with the highest score in the Brady campaign's score this year, California, had a violent crime rate of 440 per 100k.   That's 26 per 100k less than Massachusetts.  Again, if the idea of more gun laws = less gun crime, we should see a considerable improvement in California.  26 per 100,000 is not a significant difference.

Looking through the data as a whole, if you compare score card scores to violent crime rates, they are all over the map.  I'm no statistics whiz, but generally if there is some correlation between two things, you don't get that kind of variation.  Several states scored low on the Brady score card and have a very low violent crime rate.  States like Alaska and Arizona with low Brady scores had high crime rates.  There weren't any states with high Brady scores that had crime rates below the national average. Maybe they would be worse if they had less gun control, I don't know.  It isn't a point I'm willing concede though because when you have such a variation in the data, how can you come to a conclusion that one correlates (or causes as the Brady campaign contends) when obviously the data shows that it doesn't?

Got me.   I'm just a redneck.  What do I know?