I spend a lot of time blasting the media for their biases. It’s kind of hard not to in this line of work, let me tell you. However, it’s kind of nice when you run into someone who acknowledges that homicides may not be a product of guns supposedly being too easy to access. It doesn’t happen often, though.
And yet, it seems some in the media really do want to try and get to the meat of the issue rather than just parroting talking points. Check out this reporting from the San Jose Mercury News:
When mass shootings erupted earlier this year in Georgia, Colorado and Indiana, there was a sad sense about it to many Californians. Look at their gun laws. No waiting period to buy firearms. No assault weapons ban.
But the Bay Area just saw its deadliest mass shooting late last month, the second this year in California, a state with the nation’s strictest laws on gun ownership. The San Jose light rail yard massacre reignited the country’s gun violence debate, with cries for new federal laws countered by observations that California’s many restrictions didn’t stop the latest killings.
So who’s right? A Bay Area News Group analysis of recent gun death data from 2015-2019 shows there’s a strong correlation between strict state gun laws and lower overall firearm fatality rates. But nearly two-thirds of those deaths were suicides, and only about a third were homicides.
Looking just at homicides, there’s a wide range of gun death rates among states with weak as well as strict gun laws. A similar picture emerges when looking just at mass shootings in recent years.
For a newspaper in the Bay area, that’s quite the revelation.
That’s not the end of it, either.
Giffords, the gun control advocacy group, grades states annually on the strength of their gun laws. It gave all but one state with the 10 highest firearm fatality rates an F. That state, New Mexico — which received a C+ gun law grade and had a firearm fatality rate of 19.9 — has universal background checks and a red-flag law.
The states with the 10 lowest firearm fatality rates ranged from Massachusetts (3.6), whose gun laws Giffords rated A-minus, to Nebraska (9.3), graded a C. California — graded A for its strict gun laws — had the country’s seventh-lowest firearm fatality rate at 3.5 per 100,000 residents.
Looking at homicides, the states with the 10 highest rates — from Louisiana (10.9) to Georgia (6.2) — typically had few gun laws and an F grade from Giffords. But there were two rated A- among them: Maryland (7.4) and Illinois (6.5).
But that didn’t tell the full story. Half the states with the 10 lowest homicide rates also had loose gun laws and F grades from Giffords, from Maine (0.8) to South Dakota (1.5), both F-rated. Only two of the states with the 10 lowest rates had high gun law ratings, Hawaii (0.9) and Massachusetts (1.4), both graded A-minus.
As noted, many of those with high gun fatality rates had a higher number of suicides. The story argues that gun control does reduce gun suicides, and the numbers do tend to suggest such a thing.
What continually gets ignored in these reports is whether the overall suicide rates are impacted at all by these measures. We’ve long argued that those intending to kill themselves will just use another method if they can’t get a gun. Nothing in any of this data tells us if that’s true or not.
Now, as for the homicide rates, one person interviewed attributed some of this to large cities, nothing that many of those pro-gun cities at the bottom of the list don’t have a whole lot of large cities. This isn’t untrue.
However, let’s also remember that the large cities are also likely to have even more gun control than the rest of the state. Pro-gun state are more likely to have preemption laws, thus blocking large cities from creating their own regulations, but most gun control-favoring states lack such laws. That means those large urban areas are generally free to create their own gun control laws as they wish, and many do. And yet, that’s still not enough to keep the homicide rate down.
Further, if you think looser gun control regulations lead to more crime, the fact that only two A-graded states are in the bottom 10 with the lowest homicide rates should give you pause.
It’s an interesting take and the data is something I’ve seen before, but it’s nice to see it being talked about. Especially since we’re in the midst of so many elected officials trying to wage a jihad against our Second Amendment rights.