Friday, January 4, 2013

Perspective and rates...

I see a lot of numbers played with in letters to the editor, news outlets and others, comparing the US 'handgun deaths' to England, Japan, Canada, etc., and there needs to be more perspective on them.

The quoted numbers I've seen are 30,000 'gun deaths' for the US versus low hundreds for England, middle hundreds for others, and so on. To start- the 30k number which is usually quoted is a finding of a man named Kellerman, who is funded through the Joyce Foundation, a group which funds several other anti-gun groups. Besides being questionable from the standpoint of non-objective study (would anyone accept statistics from the NRA with the same faith?) that study has been debunked in peer review, as inaccurate. Further, that study includes a very large number (nearly half) of suicides, which are not reflected in the statistics of other nations, many of which only report criminal homicides. Also included are accidents, police shootings, and justifiable homicides.

Next, compare the populations- the US has about 350 million people vs England' 53 million, and Canada's 33 million. Australia comes in at 22 million. Theres absolutely zero accuracy in comparing the total number of deaths betwixt these nations and the US.

In order to properly compare any of these countries to the US, you need to 1) either include all suicides from all nations regardless of means, or remove them from the US numbers, 2) account for legitimate deaths, such as police shootings and justified self defense, and 3) account for population.

To say 'the US has x gun deaths, while England has x' is disengenuous at best, and an outright malicious falsehood at worst.

I don't have the numbers, at present, but I may have to gather them, and check back in with more data.

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