I just sent the following email to the author of an anti gun editorial.
From: Joe Huffman
Sent: Wed 3/23/2005 12:31 PM
Subject: RE: Red Lake, Minnesota Shooting [On Gun Control]
I just read your article (http://www.useless-knowledge.com/1234/mar/article320.html). There are a couple errors that I thought you should be aware of.You stated:As a matter of fact, according to the Brady Center there was a 66% decline under the ban for crimes that could be traced back to the use of assault weapons.But what the Brady Center actually said (http://www.bradycampaign.org/ler/docs/doj_study_talking_points.doc)The Brady Center report had found a 66% decline in assault weapons’ share of total crime gun traces from the pre-ban period to the post-ban period.The difference is that in your statement you said the 66% decline was in the USE of assault weapons. Whereas what they actually said was there was a 66% decline in the assault weapons’ share of total crime gun traces. “Crime gun traces” does not mean the gun was used in a crime. Those traces include guns that were stolen and the trace was done to find the true owner. In fact if you read the actual report the Brady Center bases their talking points on (http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/grants/204431.pdf) you will find (section 6.1) “…up to a quarter of the guns confiscated by police are associated with violent offenses or shots fired incidences”. Furthermore the traces are at the discretion of the local police who confiscated the firearm. Any changes in their policies regarding traces will affect those numbers. Hence, the trace data is unreliable and to the extent it is reliable it does not reflect the use of that gun in the commission of a crime.You also state:Just prior to the assault ban being enacted it was noted that there were approximately 15 people killed per 100,000 in gun related deaths. By 2002 the death rate due to guns was down to 10 per 100,000 or 30% less. (www.inasa.org) I don’t know about you but that looks pretty effective to me!
Aside from the fact that you include ALL people killed with firearms, including those that are justified or even praiseworthy shootings by the police and private citizens using them in defense of innocent life if you read the National Institute of Justice report rather than the Brady Campaign talking points you get still more concerning errors:
AWs were used in only a small fraction of gun crimes prior to the ban: about 2% according to most studies and no more than 8%. Most of the AWs used in crime are assault pistols rather than assault rifles.
Therefore it is simply not possible that a 30% decline can be attributed to the banning of something that was only used in, at most, 8% of the crimes. That doesn’t even include the effects of criminals substituting other weapons to commit murders if the banned firearms are unavailable.
In short your article only focuses on the adverse effects of firearms ownership and use and relies on Brady Campaign talking points rather than actual criminological results.
Update: Fixed some format errors in the blog post version, and a couple of typos that were in the letter I sent to the author.