Archive for May, 2012


Guns, Statistics, and Reporting Bias

May 25, 2012

Let me start this post with a little disclaimer.  This post is not about gun control.  It’s not pro or anti-gun.  It is about authors who write bad articles.  Articles where the facts are reported in a misleading way– intentionally or not.  This is irresponsible and has fostered a lot of incorrect assumptions about our society and has influenced the creation of worthless laws.  This post could be about almost anything:  climate change, health care, renewable energy, etc.  But I choose to use guns as an example– so you’ll have to just deal with it.

A recent Huffington Post article proclaimed:  Gun Deaths Exceed Motor Vehicle Deaths in 10 Cities.  The article quotes some numbers from a recent study and then goes on to make some interesting statements, including:

  • …gun deaths continue unabated — the direct result of the failure of policymakers to acknowledge and act on this ubiquitous and too often ignored public health problem.
  • And while the health and safety regulation of motor vehicles stands as a public health success story, firearms remain literally the last consumer product manufactured in the United States not subject to federal health and safety regulation.
  • Comprehensive regulation of the firearms industry and its products could include: minimum safety standards (i.e., specific design standards and the requirement of safety devices); bans on certain types of firearms such as “junk guns” and military-style assault weapons; limits on firepower; restrictions on gun possession by those convicted of a violent misdemeanor; heightened restrictions on the carrying of loaded guns in public; improved enforcement of current laws restricting gun possession by persons with histories of domestic violence; more detailed and timely data collection on gun production, sales, use in crime, involvement in injury and death; and, public education about the extreme risks associated with exposure to firearms.

The general idea of the article is that somehow we can reduce the loss of life through gun laws and regulation.  Before we get into this, let’s look at the statistics.   Read the rest of this entry ?