Constantly choosing the wrong metric

The anti-gun bigots are at it again. They are claiming victory when they fudge the numbers:

Gun-control measures that Australia adopted after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre have eliminated mass killings and halved the number of suicides and deaths from firearms, according to a new study.

There have been no mass killings since the passage of the first measure just after the massacre, researchers led by Simon Chapman at the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney said in the study, published in the December issue of Injury Prevention. In contrast, there were 13 such killings in the 18 years prior. The study covered 1979 to 2003.

“Removing large numbers of rapid-firing firearms from civilians may be an effective way of reducing mass shootings, firearm homicides and firearm suicides,” the authors said.

The laws also doubled the pace at which firearm deaths were declining, they said. Gun deaths had been falling by 3 percent a year, and the rate rose to 6 percent after the new rules, the study found. The average number of people killed each month dropped to 332.6 from 627.7, it said. Suicides make up about four out of five firearms deaths; the remainder are either homicides or unintentional deaths.

And what’s your point? Why should anyone care? This totally ignores the possibility of any benefit that might have resulted from people being allowed to own those firearms that were taken from them. The total murder rate and the total violent crime rate are what is important. A reduction in the number of crimes committed with firearms is, by itself, meaningless. You could reduce the number of murders committed with baseball bats by banning the sport and the bats but it’s not going to reduce the total murder rate.

They can’t win being honest with the numbers so they have to cheat. But what can you expect from people that have mental problems?


2 thoughts on “Constantly choosing the wrong metric

  1. Figures they would have to answer their critics…

    HALF a billion dollars spent buying back hundreds of thousands of guns after the Port Arthur massacre had no effect on the homicide rate, says a study published in an influential British journal.

    The report by two Australian academics, published in the British Journal of Criminology, said statistics gathered in the decade since Port Arthur showed gun deaths had been declining well before 1996 and the buyback of more than 600,000 mainly semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns had made no difference in the rate of decline.


  2. I think this says it all about how trustworthy Chapman is with numbers –

    (here’s the full link if you’re interested:

    Don Weatherburn: Well points and crosses to both sides. I think firstly starting with Simon, he’s being a little disingenuous here because he and Phillip Alpers wrote a piece for The Age on April 26 or 28, talking about the drop in mass shootings, but highlighting more than anything else, the drop in firearm homicide, who said the downward trend has been more dramatic, and he identified two periods and said it was now falling 70 times faster than after the gun laws than before. And I think there was a problem with that arithmetic, and I think it’s been satisfactorily dealt with by Samara’s work.

    Funny part is that I’ve read the new paper and the actual statistical results agree with the earlier research – no change in the decline in murders, a change in firearm suicides but also a change in suicides using other methods (which means it might not have been the gun laws influencing firearm suicide, although Chapman’s paper conveniently ignores this), so the claims the anti-gunners are making are completely at odds with their own data!!

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