Hiltzik mangles gun statistics

Hiltzik mangles gun statistics

ScarfaceFeb. 18, 2013

By John Seiler

In the Los Angeles Times’ continued attack on our gun rights, Michael Hiltzik writes:

“Consider the most important statistic related to California’s gun laws. In 1981, before the most stringent rules were adopted, California’s rate of 16.5 firearms-related deaths per 100,000 population was 31st worst in the nation and higher than the national average; by 2000, a decade after the laws started getting tightened, the state ranked 20th, with a rate of 9.18, below the national average. In 2010, the latest year for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers figures, the state ranked ninth, with a rate of only 7.9.

“And this is a big, diverse state with not inconsiderable pockets of gang lawlessness and drug abuse, and sizable populations of hunters, target shooters and other gun fanciers. Many factors may have contributed to the downward trend in firearm deaths since 1990, but the numbers strongly indicate that regulation works.”

Notice how he mixed up the dates. He’s comparing the decline in deaths since 1990, not 1981. He should have noted that firearms deaths have decline almost everywhere in the United States since 1990. So he’s comparing two different periods.

And he doesn’t mention that the era of peak gun killings in California, the 1980s, also was the era of the crack cocaine epidemic. The Crips and Bloods were shooting up the town as if it were an Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick. The crack epidemic especially affected Califonia more than any other state. There were few, if any, gang shootouts in Minnesota or Vermont.

When the crack epidemic ended and gang shootings were reduced, if not eliminated, then naturally California’s gun homicide rate would drop faster than that in other states.

This is from a 1997 study by the U.S. Justice Department:

“Drug epidemics tend to follow a natural course. The popularity of a  particular drug–such as crack cocaine–tends to start within a limited subpopulation. Sometimes use of a drug catches on and the rate of use increases dramatically until it is widespread. At some point the drug may go out of favor, leading to a slow but steady ebb in its use.”

And this is from “The Developmental Cycle of a Drug Epidemic: The Cocaine Smoking Epidemic of 1981-1991,” an article by Ansley Hamid in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 24(4):337-348:

“The groundwork for the cocaine-smoking epidemic in low-income, minorit neighborhoods was laid when cocaine (hydrochloride) powder — for intranasal use or snorting — became popular in restricted circles around 1979. Many persons who initiated the cocaine use then remained active and central throughout the epidemic, metamorphosing as they traversed the six stages and initiating successive categories of users….

“In many neighborhoods very little regulation occurred, and a reputation for crack-related violence, crime, and incivility was won instead.”

The epidemic ended around 1991. At the same time, gun violence dropped. And gun violence dropped faster in California because it was higher to begin with from the crack epidemic, which ended; not because of California’s gun laws.

Let Scarface show why the 1980s were so violent (note: bad language in the video):

4 comments

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  1. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 18 February, 2013, 14:52

    At least Hiltzik isn’t writing about economics and finance, two arenas where he shows even greater ignorance.

    Reply this comment
  2. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 18 February, 2013, 17:40

    Hiltzik is as clueless as George Skelton is, both public union stooges.

    Reply this comment
  3. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 18 February, 2013, 18:47

    I wonder how Hiltzik explains the general fact that areas with the most restrictive gun laws tend to be areas which also have the highest violent crime & murder rates, like Chicago, Washington D.C., Newark, Mexico, etc. Then there are all of those hysterical claims made by people like Hiltzik that shall issue concealed carry policies would result in an unprecedented bloodbath which never took place. Another fact that undermines the gun grabber propaganda is that of all the mass shootings (more than 3 fatalities per incident) in this country since 1950, all but one occurred in “gun free zones”.

    Here’s a few more pertinent facts that The L.A. Slimes won’t publish – more people are beaten to death every year than are killed with scary black rifles. Rifles of all types account for about 2.6% of gun related murders. More people are killed with kitchen knives than “assault rifles”. In England, violent crime has INCREASED since they passed their draconian gun laws and now EXCEEDS the violent crime rate in the U.S. Someone needs to send him a copy of John Lott’s “More Guns, Less Crime”. But that assumes he actually wants to be educated on the subject instead of spouting left liberal dogma.

    Reply this comment
  4. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 18 February, 2013, 21:40

    “But that assumes he actually wants to be educated on the subject instead of spouting left liberal dogma.”

    Not likely.

    One glaring trait of the left-leaning media is the stunning lack of intellectual curiosity. “The science is settled”, you see. No interest whatsoever to see if these crazy right-wingers might actually have a point or two. Yet, somehow, they all claim to believe in “science”…..I’m reminded of Marlon Brando, sitting cross-legged deep in the jungle of Southeast Asia, pouring water over his shaved head while muttering……”The Hypocrisy!….”

    From Hiltzik to the cast of MSNBC (yes, it’s a “cast”……like a sitcom) they are simply provided talking points and marching orders. Forward!

    Reply this comment

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