I've done some digging and found a good one to look at.
The LCAV have themselves a report called Gun Laws Matter: A Comparison of State Firearms Laws and Statistics (PDF here) which
analyzes and compares firearms laws and statistics in all 50 statesInside the report, the LCAV writes:
our ranking reveals that many of the states with the strongest gun laws also have the lowest gun death rates. Conversely, many states with the weakest gun laws have the highest gun death rates.A quick look at the accompanying spreadsheet (PDF) showing the rankings appears to bear that out. At number 1 is California with a 2007 Gun Death Rate of 8.98. At the bottom is Arizona, with a 2007 Gun Death Rate of 14.97
If we take that at face value, the LCAV is totally on the mark.
But we're critical thinkers, aren't we.
We know a death rate is the number of deaths in a population scaled to the size of that population over a certain unit of time.
Per the spreadsheet, LCAV got its Gun Death Rates from WISQARS.
So I went to WISQARS and entered the following values:
- All Intents (for Question #1)
- Firearm (for Question #2)
- All Races
- All (Hispanic Origin)
- Both Sexes
Then back to the menu with "All Intents" and "Firearm" for Questions #1 and #2, then changed the Census Region/State field to "Arizona."
WISQARS gave me this:
Okay, so the rates don't quite match the spreadsheet. California is off by 0.04, Arizona by 0.02.
But close enough.
Now let's look at those rate calculations.
Take a look once more at the two tables above.
California, which ranked #1 for having the strongest gun laws according to the LCAV, had 3,268 firearm deaths.
Arizona, which ranked #50 for having the weakest gun laws according to the LCAV, had 951 firearm deaths.
Wait a minute.
Shouldn't Arizona have more deaths? I mean, it's got the weakest gun laws. Surely there ought to be more than 951 measly deaths!
Which means California should have the least number of deaths. Hell, it shouldn't have any. I mean, having the strongest gun laws and all that, right?
Shouldn't have any gun deaths, right?
Next, you'll note California has nearly 5.5 times the population of Arizona and almost more than 3 times the number of firearm deaths.
Why should this matter?
Math, that's why.
California's seemingly low Gun Death Rate is only offset by its large population.
Do the math and you'll see what I'm talking about.
A better comparison would be if we looked at states with roughly similar population figures. If, for example, California had a roughly similar population as Arizona but the same number of deaths, it's Gun Death Rate would skyrocket.
Suppose California had the same number of gun deaths but had a population just like Arizona--6,362,241 (by 2007 figures).
Do the math and we see that:
3,268 (number of gun deaths) / 6,362,241 (same population as Arizona) x 100,000 = 51.3651.36!!!
See what LCAV is trying to do here? It's pretty much what all GCCs try to do.
Scare you by playing with statistics.
Because they set themselves up as "experts" the average person is going to accept whatever LCAV (or VPC, CSGV, the Brady Bunch) says.
But when you start looking behind the curtain of their little magic show, you'll see it's really just smoke and mirrors.
Oh yeah--one final tidbit to consider...The number of deaths in California is 0.009% of the total population. For Arizona, it's 0.014%.
Look at it again. Then do the math.
Yeah, 3,200 deaths seems like a lot. But seen among the rest of the state's population?
This isn't meant to downplay those deaths. Not at all.
But I'm talking about considering context here.
The GCCs aren't, though.
They just want to scare you with numbers.
(photo: Nick Winchester/stock.xchng)