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Old May 30, 2004, 09:19 AM   #1
CarbineCaleb
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Firearms Deaths in US vs Other Developed Countries

So, first off, I am not a gun-hater - I own a Beretta Vertec, and am buying a S&W 686 Limited... however, I was struck by the post from the Swedish gentleman and the responses... which struck me as largely at least, in stark contrast to well known facts. So, I pose this followup question: Why is the "firearm death rate in the U.S. (14.24 per 100,000) is eight times the average rate of its economic counterparts (1.76)." ?

You can find a terrific graphical summary of 5 years of data on firearms related deaths in 20 developed countries, along with salient analysis at:
http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/ficap/reso...ionOneIntl.htm

This page is from those at the Medical School at the University of Pennsylvania, a first rate academic instituion. The data themselves were drawn from the International Journal of Epidemiology. These are distinguished sources without any idealogical aim.

So, I ask, why is this?
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Old May 30, 2004, 09:30 AM   #2
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Different cultures play a part as well as how they do the statistics. In the US, all homicides are counted, including those ruled as justified by police and private citizens in self defense. That is not the case all "developed" countries. Suicides in the US tend to be done by firearms, but there are more suicides in Japan than the US and they have a complete ban on firearms. For some reason, they like to jump out of windows. The so-called "Youth" death rates often include ages 18-25, depending on what point the person doing the report wishes to make. They also include the 16+ year old gang bangers doing war against each other over turf and drugs, something other countries don't have to deal with.

If you are interested in learning the truth, I recommend reading More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws and The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong by John Lott.
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Old May 30, 2004, 09:50 AM   #3
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Why did Vermont, with the nation's loosest gun laws, have 1.1 Murders/Non-Negligent Homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2001, while neighboring New York, with its much more progressive gun laws, sported a 5.0/100k rate? (Which is still below the national rate of 5.6/100k...)

You want some interesting reading? Here's some, straight from the effa-bee-eye: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_01/01crime2.pdf

By-the-by, that rate you quote seems awful high, don't you think, considering that the rate for homicides of all kinds (gun, knife, poison, vehicle, blunt instrument, bare hands, pianos dropped from the fifth floor) is only 5.6? That leaves an awful lot to be accounted for by suicides and accidents. Wonder where they got their data?
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Old May 30, 2004, 10:30 AM   #4
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...well... one problem with information coming from a source from a book entitled "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws and The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong"... is that without even opening it up, it's obvious that the source is biased - the man has an agenda.

The sources cited in the U.Penn study cite, for example:
...in obtaining the graphical data:
9. Krug EG, Powell KE, Dahlberg LL. Firearm-related deaths in the United States and 35 other high- and upper-middle-income countries. International Journal Epidemiology, 1998; 27: 214-21

and, in making the statement "Unintentional firearm injuries resulted in death in 7.3% of cases.", cite:
15. Beaman V, Annest JL, Mercy JA, Kresnow M, Pollock DA. Lethality of Firearm-Related Injuries in the United States Population. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 2000; 35(3): 258-66.

These are peer-reviewed international scientific journals - which means the authors have extensive training in their respective disciplines, and that any claims made are subject to withering scrutiny by the scientific community. I welcome citations of all forms, because that at least shows the basis. Personally, however, I wouldn't put much stock in what the leader of the Democratic National Committee would suggest on the left, or Rush Limbaugh would suggest on the right - they have strong beliefs to the left and the right, but little basis for what they say, and a strong desire for political influence.

Similarly, so-called "think-tanks", both liberal and conservative, which normally have impressive and objective sounding names are little more than a cover for well-funded political idealogues (or industrial advocacy groups) seeking to influence public opinion and legislation. Yes, think tanks have smart people, no, they are not a credible source.

I am a physical scientist myself, and while I welcome well reasoned proposal and well reasoned speculation, think there is no substitute for hard facts and reasoned analysis from learned and objective sources.

If we allowed wild assertions and unsubstantiated claims to guide scientific thought, we would literally still be back in the dark ages, a time of strong beliefs, founded however, on ignorance and superstition.
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Old May 30, 2004, 10:33 AM   #5
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CarbineCaleb: My link pointed to fbi.gov, not JohnLott.com. I'd reckon the FBI might have a fairly good handle on the crime rate in the US, maybe even better than the esteemed folks at U.Penn, nicht wahr?
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Old May 30, 2004, 10:51 AM   #6
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CarbineCaleb,

By way of a PS...

Quote:
This page is from those at the Medical School at the University of Pennsylvania, a first rate academic instituion. The data themselves were drawn from the International Journal of Epidemiology. These are distinguished sources without any idealogical aim.
Are you sure this is true? The good Dr. Kellerman's thoroughly debunked study, after all, appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, and the anti-gun bias of the AMA is well-documented and self-evident.
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Old May 30, 2004, 10:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
These are peer-reviewed international scientific journals - which means the authors have extensive training in their respective disciplines, and that any claims made are subject to withering scrutiny by the scientific community.
That argument always reminds me of how everyone that votes against gun control is bowing to the pressure of the NRA and everyone voting for gun control is bravely standing up against the all powerful NRA to make the streets of America safer.

Ever hear of some guy called Michael A. Bellesiles? Nothing like non-bias withering scrutiny by ones contemporaries to show absolute proof of accuracy, eh?

Before you blow off John Lott's research, you might want to read his information first....you know, just in case he knows what he is talking about.

Quote:
Dr. JOHN R. LOTT, JR.

Ph.D.: UCLA, September 1984, Economics
MA: UCLA, 1982, Economics
BA: UCLA, 1980, Economics, Magna cum laude

Senior Research Scholar, School of Law, Yale University __ September 1999 to August 2001.

The John M. Olin Law and Economics Fellow, School of Law, University of Chicago __ September 1995 to August 1999.

The John M. Olin Visiting Assistant Professor, The George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago __ July 1994 to August 1995.

The John M. Olin Visiting Fellow, Cornell University Law School, March 1994.

Winner of the Duncan Black Award presented by the Public Choice Society for the best Public Choice paper of the year for 1992.

The John M. Olin National Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University __September 1986 to August 1987.

Honorable Mention, Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Contest in Government Finance and Taxation sponsored by the National Tax Association and the Tax Institute of America, 1984.

Weaver Fellowship, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1980-
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Old May 30, 2004, 10:55 AM   #8
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Tamara, I am trying to download your citation, but unfortuantely am traveling right now, and this computer doesn't seem to like .PDF docs, I will read it carefully when I return home, however.

I will point out that, aside from the sources, the frequency graphs on the opening page do not attempt to assign causality, they are simply showing what is occurring, rather than why it is occurring. The latter is worthy, but a more difficult goal. Certainly, they show exceptionally high rates of firearms related deaths in the US - noone else is even close. Further, these data are averaged over entire countries, they are not a small sample, and so aren't troubled by sampling variance, and don't have any sampling bias.

As to the Vermont - NY comparison, I don't say there can't be anything in it, but the trouble is, that many things are different between NY and Vermont, not just gun laws. For instance, while I lack a citation, I suspect that Vermont probably has more cows per acre than New York. My point is not to redicule. My point is just that it's dangerous when attempting to find causality between two systems that differ markedly in scores of factors, to reach in there and pick out one possible factor as the cause - the odds are actually against it being true.

To avoid false correlations, it's best to use large samples, which carefully avoid bias, and to control for confounding factors.

To avoid false claims of causality, it's best to first do the above, and then have a logical mechanism that explains the proposed causes... the data and the model used to explain them can then be scrutinized by others who face a similar burden in either supporting, modifying, or refuting - this type of inquery and dialogue are really the foundation of science.
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Old May 30, 2004, 11:21 AM   #9
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CarbineCaleb,

Uniform Crime Reports from 1995 to 2003(preliminary) are available from fbi.gov in both .pdf formats (the whole document) and .xls (raw data). The chart at the U.Penn site claims to be data from 1990-1995, from an article in the International Journal of Epidemiology, although I am still attempting to find where "Krug, et al" got their data. There seems to be some serious variance, however...

Quote:
I will point out that, aside from the sources, the frequency graphs on the opening page do not attempt to assign causality, they are simply showing what is occurring, rather than why it is occurring.
Where did Krug, et al, get their data for these graphs? It doesn't jibe with the FBI's numbers. Do they have access to data that the FBI doesn't?
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Old May 30, 2004, 11:43 AM   #10
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Why do we worry about which countries have higher gun deaths when Europe gave us Hitler and Stalin?

What da ya want? Gun deaths or Wars and Genocide?

Debate over.
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Old May 30, 2004, 03:47 PM   #11
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"...why is this?"

My personal belief is that it's due to the fact that many of us are descended from the original thieves, dirt poor peasants and malcontents that settled this great country. Nothing wrong with leaving home (like some of mine left the coal mines of Wales and poverty of Edinburgh) and working your way up in the world. Some families improved their lot and they're not inclined to hand it over without a fight. Some families were troublemakers there and now they're still a problem here.

Let's face it, it typically wasn't the landed gentry and titled courtiers that packed up the household goods and moved here.

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Old May 30, 2004, 07:02 PM   #12
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Here’s a question. Why are we only concerned about the firearm deaths in “developed countries”? Are human lives now less valuable in the “third world”? Or could it be there is significantly more firearm related deaths in these countries, and by omitting them the United States looks much more barbaric?

six
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Old May 30, 2004, 07:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Why is the "firearm death rate in the U.S. (14.24 per 100,000) is eight times the average rate of its economic counterparts (1.76)." ?
(emphasis mine)
Pretty simple, really.

It is because the statistics are comparing the rate of murders-with-guns, and not comparing the rates of murders-period.

At most, those statistics prove that more gun availability equals more gun usage, hardly an earth shattering revelation.

If Country A has a lot of guns and a high murder-with-gun rate, and Country B has almost no guns and therefore a nonexistent murder-with-gun rate, that shows that guns get used for murder when guns are available. It does not show that Country A is more dangerous than Country B (Country B could have, for instance, an extremely high number of murders committed with machetes, baseball bats, or axes -- none of which would show up in the murder-with-gun statistics).

Regardless of the murder-with-gun rate, it is not accurate to use the murder-with-gun stats to conclude that higher gun availability leads to a higher overall murder rate or to higher levels of overall violence. And that is what people who use the murder-with-a-gun statistics are generally trying to prove.

Frankly, if I were going to be murdered, I'd rather be murdered by a gun than a baseball bat. Not that it really matters. Dead is dead.

Try looking at overall murder rates for a more accurate picture of comparative violence.

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Old May 30, 2004, 07:54 PM   #14
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Interestingly, in the US, the rate of murders committed with bare hands in any given year is usually higher than that in most industrialized Western nations, despite a similar rate of metacarpal ownership in the two nations...

I've got 'hold of this elephant, and I can tell you that it looks like a rope...
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Old May 30, 2004, 09:04 PM   #15
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Every death in the United States is counted as a homicide unless ruled otherwise. This alone raises the suicide rate.
In some European countries, a death is counted as a homicide only if a person is found guilty of murder. Guilty by reason of insanity does not count. Plea bargins do not count. You can just imagine the pressure on DA's to plea bargin in the year before an election. See, the homicide rate dropped while I was in office. So did the rate of violent crime.
You can juggle numbers a lot.

Firearm death rate is very specific. Do guns really cause suicide? How about the other murders? Other causes of death? Do people in other countries think "Oh, I can't get a gun. I guess I won't kill Johann today."? Or do they find other ways?
Quote:
Here’s a question. Why are we only concerned about the firearm deaths in “developed countries”? Are human lives now less valuable in the “third world”?
Many Third World countries have rebellions of some sort going on. Many who don't are actively repressing and terrorizing their citizens. Many lack a generally accurate count of the population to begin with.
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Old May 30, 2004, 10:22 PM   #16
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Quote:
In some European countries, a death is counted as a homicide only if a person is found guilty of murder. Guilty by reason of insanity does not count. Plea bargins do not count. You can just imagine the pressure on DA's to plea bargin in the year before an election.
So, you're saying "Guilty By Reason Of Insanity" would raise the suicide rate? I don't follow you. Also, you'll note that the UCR data is for "Murder & Non-Negligent Homicide". This does not explain the disconnect between the numbers reported by the FBI and the numbers reported by the International Journal of Epidemiology. I have so far struck out on where Krug, et al got their non-jibing data, although it's quoted all over the 'net as gospel truth. I'm still waiting for CarbineCaleb to respond to the accusations of bias on the part of U.Penn and the rest of the US medical establishment. (As he pointed out with Lott, higher degrees and peer review do not preclude bias...)

Quote:
Firearm death rate is very specific.
Indeed. As I mentioned above, many nations with tougher gun laws and lower rates of firearms homicide also have lower rates of bare-handed homicide. Que?

Quote:
Do guns really cause suicide?
Apparently not. Many industrialized nations (cf. Japan) with much lower Firearms Suicide rates than the US have much higher overall suicide rates. Again, que?
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Old May 30, 2004, 11:55 PM   #17
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Quote:
These are distinguished sources without any idealogical aim.
The first time you said something like this, it was funny. Now it's just absurd.
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Old May 31, 2004, 01:04 AM   #18
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Tamara, for all I know, getting killed by a person found insane by a jury is counted as death by natural causes. Certainly the fact that a man slaughter charge may be negotiated to assault and battery therefore not be a homicide is ridiculous.
I'm not trying to justify how others count their homicides. I'm just saying that each country has a different definition of homicide for purposes of keeping statistics.
The FBI method of counting anything not ruled accidental or natural gives a much more alarming method than the British way.
As for the study, I admit, I didn't read it. Maybe they did correct for the way national data is counted. Certainly for it to be meaningful they would have to do so.

The homicide rate of using just bare hands confounds me, however.
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Old May 31, 2004, 07:15 AM   #19
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One factor effecting the US suicide rate is that people that choose to use a firearm have a much higher success rate than those using other methods. Only nations like Japan, where they have found an almost foolproof method, can keep up.
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Old May 31, 2004, 07:25 AM   #20
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Seems like the last figure I saw on it said that suicide by gun only had an 80% success rate.
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Old May 31, 2004, 10:27 AM   #21
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Bias of AMA?

So, a prevailing view here is that the AMA is biased against guns... what evidence would you have for that? While it might be true, I don't see any reason it would be. When I think of doctors, they are well educated, and I know education correlates negatively with interest in guns... whether that actually constitutes a "bias" or reason is of course open to speculation. Furthermore, one can deduce that in this profession, they will see the results of gun use against people in their work - again, would that experience amount to a bias? If there is a bias, I can only say that it wouldn't help doctors to "campaign" against guns, there is no motive there... it might only arise in terms of concern for their patients.
This will probably result in flames, but oh, well... if we want to talk about bias - why not bring up the NRA??? The NRA receives 10's of millions of dollars from the weapons/sales industries... that money flows into:
- Politicians pockets in campaign contributions
- Paid lobbyists to influence legislation
- Legal actions to influence legislation
- Public outreach to attract more shooters
- Public outreach to increase rate of product utilization by existing shooters

... now, of course, there might be all kinds of motivations for these actions, that have nothing to do with them receiving vast sums of money. However, I find it much more than coincidental that the NRA receives vast sums of money from an industry, and in turn carries a spectrum of activities that just happen to bring more money to that industry, by either retaining or expanding it's market. If you know what PAC groups, industry advocacy groups, and think-tanks do, this is it. While I am not antigun, I am anti-NRA. To me, they are a dishonest organization that takes advantage of the members.

So, some people are also knocking the scientific literature. As to peer-reviewed journals, you can scoff at science, but take a look at everything around you, from the computer you're typing on, to the plastics, paints, and resins in the chair you're sitting on, the medicines you take, the lights that allow you to see... everything that has lifted us from the darkness... science is not only a matter of intellect and creativity as it might appear; just as much, it's a matter of the process of peer review of ideas - and that takes place in the scientific literature. For laymen, peer review means that nothing may even appear in a scientific journal unless it has passed muster with a panel of expert reviewers who will invariably either request changes, or simply reject the paper if it's trivial in scope or has gross errors. While mistakes may still get through on occasion, they are invariably exposed and rejected by the scientific community at large. Books, newspapers, magazines, tv, movies - no other medium for communicating and proposing ideas has peer review, or has a dedicated community of knowledgeable people rigorously refereeing the viewpoint, which literally constitutes the state of knowledge - it's no exaggeration to say that everything else flows from this, the primary literature. Deride it if you like, it's your right to speak your mind, but that really says more about you than it does about science.
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Old May 31, 2004, 11:41 AM   #22
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A few threads on TFL in reference to the AMA:

Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws

Medical Questioning about Guns?

Docs and guns

Upset at Doctors today

Here is an excerpt from that last thread: Posted by user lonegunman on 02-07-2002.
Quote:
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the AMA are both run by ultra-liberals who have a political agenda.

Anybody read the speech given by the AMA's new president? I think it was his inaugaural address. Very anti - gun.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that these questions are without ulterior motive or political purpose.

Either of these groups would be happy to take away all your guns.

There are many thousands of physicians in the US who are members of these organizations and have totally opposite views on major political issues, such as this one. Yet they continue to support them with their dues because they think the "good" these organizations do is more important.

Others out there are more than willing to tow the party line and ask intrusive questions like this.

Medicine is more competitive now than ever. I assure you that if a physician has enough patients leave because of questions about guns, he will soon drop those questions.

I am a physician and I know these things to be true.

Personally, the way I would respond to this is by stating, as calmly as possible, that that was really none of their business, and not relevant to the matter at hand. I would indicate that I consider myself responsible for the safety of my family, and that I don't need any safety counselling. Then I would let them know the visit was over, and so was our relationship.

Resist the urge to become angry or confrontational. At best, this will make you look like a crazy person. At worst, they will have DFACS pay you a visit to check on the living situation of your children.

In the end, its all about money. If they lose patients over this issue, the issue will go away.
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Old May 31, 2004, 01:38 PM   #23
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Quote:
I am anti-NRA. To me, they are a dishonest organization that takes advantage of the members.
They are not taking advantage of me. In fact, I think they are not aggressive enough in combatting anti-gun legislation, bogus lawsuits and lying media types.


Don't think professional, highly educated physicians are baised over the gun control issue, eh? Feel free to check out Physicians for Social Responsibility . They are more than happy to brag about teaming up with organizations with the acknowledged goal of banning every privately own firearm in the United States.

Quote:
PSR is working with organizations like the Brady Campaign, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the Violence Policy Center and Doctors Against Handgun Injury, to extend and strengthen this important protection for the public.
Perhaps you can explain why a person seeking peer review of scientific data goes to scientists, legal data goes to lawyers, yet when the news media or yourself seek firearm data, you call on the AMA, Sarah Brady and VPC?
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Old May 31, 2004, 04:28 PM   #24
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I once did some "peer reviewing"...

Quote:
In an investigation of 177 gun injuries and 18 deaths,selected completely at random, no doubt Groner and his colleagues stacked the deck and found that 71% of the victims were shot at home--51% in their own homes and 20% in another residence. In fact, less than 10% of the children were shot in a public area or in the street. The children ranged in age from 1 to 18, but most were aged 10 to 15. Statisticians who pointed out that this "study" gives equal weight to a kid who gets one stitch after getting a BB removed in the emergency room after being shot in the unprotected buttocks area by his dumbass brother who is now grounded, and one gunned down for shorting his customers half a gram of rock, were shouted down as being "tools of the vast right-wing NRA conspiracy". "This is why curfews are not likely to be effective," Groner told Reuters Health. "Curfews are designed to keep kids 'off the streets,' but our data shows that kids are not shot in public places." And besides, the type of children who run around public places with guns tend to be too geeked up to remember that it's after curfew hours

Over half (51%) of the shootings were reportedly unintentional, the authors note, but I wouldn't believe over half (51%) of those kids if they told me the sky was blue: "Bobby, why did you plug little Gerald?" "Honest, Ma, it was an accident!". Nearly 70% of the victims knew the shooters because it's hard to get discounts on dime bags from total strangers and 26% were related to them (Raise your hand if you haven't shot your kid brother with a BB gun, be honest now), the report indicates.

"Most kids are shot by friends and relatives--the brother being the most common relative--not 'criminals,'" Groner said. "and everyone knows that 'criminals' don't have relatives".

The most popular weapons were BB guns and handguns, which were used in 38% and 36% of the shootings, respectively, no effort being made to distinguish "goofing around" with BB guns and attempted homicide with .38s. Shotguns were the least likely weapons, used in only 12% of the incidents seeing as your average pump action shotgun is as big as your average ten-year-old, this is unsurprising.

"Non-powder weapons (BB guns, pellet guns) are a major cause of firearm injuries in children," Groner stated the painfully obvious. Despite this fact, "the regulation of non-powder weapons has been almost entirely absent from the national gun debate," he pointed out "but if we succeed in generating some hyteria about BB guns in conjunction with that recent TV report, perhaps we can get these dangerous 'gateway firearms' banned,".

"My study also shows that firearm injuries in children may be concentrated in certain areas of a city," Groner added. "I can say this, because I am a liberal. A conservative would be dragged behind the barn and shot by the NAACP for even suggesting such a thing,"

Four neighboring zip codes accounted for more than 50% of the injuries but only 10% of the county's population, according to Groner and his team. Coincidentally, these four zip codes also led in drug-related crime, carjackings, and adult homicide rate. They were once known as "The Ghetto" before that became non-politically-correct. We now call them "The vibrant inner city". "Ninety percent of children were injured in their home zip code," the researchers note, "which is unsurprising, considering children can't drive,".

"I believe that we could target this specific population for intervention (rather than trying to target the whole city at once) we could reduce injuries," Groner concluded "but building a wall around the ghetto has such bad connotations since our secret heros, the Nazis, did it in Warsaw during the last big war,".
Comments in bold are, of course, mine.

More to come...

PS: Oh, and to the "Follow The Money" comment on the NRA, I'd suggest that Mr. Caleb research who signed the paycheck, and when, for the Krug "study"... Anyone can have an agenda; higher degrees confer no immunity...

PPS: In regard to Mr. Caleb's most recent post in the thread, I'd like to open some dialogue on the topics of "straw man", "argument from authority", and "ad hominem".
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Old May 31, 2004, 04:43 PM   #25
johnbt
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Join Date: December 6, 1999
Location: Richmond, Virginia USA
Posts: 6,004
"education correlates negatively with interest in guns"

Dang. I knew getting that M.S. at age 22 was a mistake. No wonder I'm so conflicted.

John
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