More Guns = Less Crime? That Can’t be True!!

Except it is.  You have to be a Deep Thinker to be amazed by that fact, though.  You see, Deep Thinkers don’t mix with the rest of us.  They’re so much better than we are, you see.  They live in the correct ZIP Codes, after all; they vote for the correct people, donate to the right causes, and all get their panties in a wad together over the obligatory things, like someone cutting down a tree halfway around the world.  We ignernt incestuous beetle-browed clingers?  They really don’t have any idea about us, except what they read in the NYT, the WaPo, the LAT, New Yorker, TNR, and see on MSNBC.  And don’t let’s forget how thoroughly those infotainment outlets try to understand anyone other than their readership.

So of course the Deep Thinkers know — they just know! — that if you let us have something that will push a .45 cal. bullet downrange at 1,000 f.p.s. or better, we’re all going to put on our face camouflage and go hunt us some Hispanics, or something like that.

Thus when, as the Associated Press reports, gun sales in Virginia increase by 73% and gun-related crime goes down by 24% during the same period, that only “seems to contradict the premise that more guns lead to more crime in Virginia,” according to the feller who did the study, a professor Baker of Virginia Commonwealth University, and they just get all plum comflusterated a-tryin’ to cipher it out.  Well, prof., it’s been 27 or so years since I took statistics for liberal arts folks (i.e. people who can’t do math), but I’ll share something with you: The existence of two measurable diametrically opposing trends, when one of the trends is three times the magnitude of the other, does not “seem to contradict” the proposition that the two variables are positively correlated.  It in fact falsifies that statement.  Had gun sales gone up by 22% and gun-related crime increased by 5%, you might say there was evidence that they are not or only weakly positively correlated.  You might be forgiven for saying further research was needed to see if, as a hireling of the anti-personal-liberty lobby d.b.a. the “Virginia Center for Public Safety” (I’ll remind the gentle reader that tyrants since the days of Robespierre have done business under the banner of “public safety”) allows, “But is the crime going down because more people are buying guns, or is the crime going down because the crime is going down?”  But you cannot intelligently make those statements when the numbers move opposite to each other and by those magnitudes.

[Yes, dear, there are in fact crimes other than gun-related crimes, but are we really interested in whether a three-quarters increase in gun purchases moves the needle on tax fraud, meth labs, or importing rosewood which you can’t prove was harvested in a “sustainable” manner?]

I’ll also observe that not only are the numbers moving opposite to each other, but they’re doing so precisely during a period, 2006-2011, when all the other factors which we rednecks are assured actually cause crime, such as poverty, economic dislocation, long-term unemployment, increasing political polarization, folks losing their homes, etc., have been going through the roof.  In short, everything, literally everything which according to their predictive models would produce measurable increase in gun-related crime has not only failed to produce any increase at all, but has failed to stop the decrease.  Thus, not only has a near-doubling of Input 1 not produced any increase at all in Outcome X but rather a 24% decrease in observable Outcome X, but the simultaneous near doubling of Inputs 2 (e.g., going from 5% unemployment to 8.2% unemployment is a 64% increase) through n have likewise failed to produce any increase. 

Mind you, for the past half-century or so we’ve had our pocketbooks repeatedly visited by those like the “public safety” feller, on the basis — among many others, admittedly — that certain things “cause crime,” and that we need to shell out billions upon billions of dollars to “fight” this, that, or the other self-destructive behavior because if we don’t, it will “cause crime to increase,” and so forth.  Now this “public safety” feller wants us to understand that crime just goes up and down because it . . . well, because it just goes up and down, magically on its own, and independently of any other varying, measurable behavior in society at large.  What he’s really telling me is some one or more of the following statements:  (i) I am an idiot; (ii) I have been lying to you all these years while I gulled you into forking out your money; (iii) I cannot understand basic notions of statistics; (iv) I have never heard the name Karl Popper; or, (v) I, too, am afraid of losing my job.

 Dan Mitchell over at International Liberty has the correct two-sentence summation of the Deep Thinkers’ outlook:  “Gee, there are more innocent people with guns and people are surprised that criminals are now more reluctant to commit crimes? I guess you have to be a reporter or an academic to be surprised by this common-sense observation.”


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