One of the books on my shelf is How to Lie with Statistics. I found it very useful to help me identify the errors in the reports from anti-gun people. They apparently subscribe to the claim by the author, “A well-wrapped statistic is better than Hitler’s “big Lie”; it misleads,
yet it cannot be pinned on you.”
For example NYC Mayor Bloomberg reported the other day:
The report shows that total crime decreased by 5.1 percent in New York City
during 2009, outpacing national trends. Murders fell by 9.9 percent, compared to
7.2 percent nationwide. According to NYPD Compstat data, crime is down an
additional 1.5 percent citywide for the first five months of the year when
compared to 2009 levels
Of course that is such a brute force approach it doesn’t take any great skill or reading of a book to accomplish.
The Brady Campaign and Violence Policy Center are generally a little more subtle in their statistical lies.
As I wrote in my last paragraph in my post Alan Gura v. Paul Helmke Helmke and company talk about “gun violence” and concentrate on the “one component of violence”. The unmentioned assumption is that violent crime committed with guns is independent of all violent crime. If this were true then you would expect that one could, conceivably, eliminate all the guns in society and have a decrease in violent crime. This isn’t what happens in real life. It tends to be true that the rate of crimes committed with firearms goes down when there are exceedingly strict restriction in place. But other violent crime has a strong tendency to increase when those restrictions occur. The presumed reasons for this are: 1) If criminals cannot get access to a firearm they substitute a different weapons and; 2) Potential victims are disarmed which encourages predators because of the reduced risk of getting hurt and/or caught.
The VPC feeds the press information on “gun death rates” and they eat it up. But the VPC appears to include suicides and justifiable homicide by police and private citizens! According to their numbers it is just as bad for a wheelchair bound elderly woman to kill the man who broke into her home to rape her as it for the home invader to kill an entire family including the toddlers. And they ignore violent crime in general.
Their statistics tells us nothing about whether places with strict gun laws make the average person safer. They do tell us where we can live if you would rather die by being beaten to death than a gunshot wound and where violent predators can find disarmed prey. One should conclude that VPC is more appropriately named the Violent Predator Compendium.