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Very Petty Con

VPC = Very Petty Con

C.D. Michel July 10, 2014.

Analysis performed by gun control groups is about as thoughtful and deep as Miley Cyrus's song lyrics. The Violence Policy Center, one of America's oldest and most conniving Joyce Foundation funded institutions, is this week's example.

Violence Policy Center Logo Parody

Keep in mind that the VPC has called for the banning of all handguns, declared that confusing the public about "assault weapons" is good policy, and even insinuated that the average concealed carry licensee is a murderer waiting to happen. In their myopic crusade to castrate the Second Amendment, VPC seems immune to statistical purity, much less inclined to peer critically beyond numbers that grant them easy headlines and media interviews.

Such is the case with their recent claim that gun deaths are lower in states with strong gun control laws.

In an overly simplistic selective scraping of stats, VPC looked at ten states - five with the highest rate of gun fatalities and five with the lowest. Without honestly quantifying the nature of "strong" gun laws, nor legitimately examining the causes of the gun deaths, the VPC instead anchored their claim on superficial causal analysis, and promptly issued press releases. Sadly, some in the media parroted VPC's canned PR by employing parrot sized brain power.

In VPC's review, the five states with high gun death rates were either in the deep south or in the rugged northern territories (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana). The five states with the lowest gun death rates were all autocratic North Eastern asylums plus a tropical island (Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Barack Obama's Hawaii). Anyone not in the propaganda business would instantly see the VPC presented an apples-to-kumquats comparison. Culturally, economically, politically and recreationally, these states have only one commonality, and that is being in America.

As usual, suicides have been lobbed into the "gun death" total, despite endless analysis showing that guns are not a determinant suicide variable - that gun availability does not change the likelihood of a successful suicide (if it did, Lithuania would have a suicide rate 1/100th of the United States because they have fewer than 1/100th the number of guns per capita, yet their suicide rate is three times ours). This is important because three of the five states that the VPC claims have high gun death rates due to lax gun laws also have very high suicide rates (Montana, Wyoming and Alaska top the suicide charts for American states). Conversely, the five states with low gun death rates are in the bottom six states for suicides (Connecticut beat out Hawaii by a nose).

This alone is reason enough to toss the VPC report into the circular file. Failing to compensate for suicides - which are 62% of gun deaths nationally - is a propaganda ploy. After all, one of the most effective ways to lie is to mostly tell the truth, but manipulate the inclusion or exclusion of selected facts that make all the difference.

Savvy thinking people - which automatically excludes most VPC supporters - would also notice that Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana are heavily rural and have strong hunting cultures. Because bullets that drop a deer can easily kill a human, and since fatal hunting or shooting range accidents count as "gun deaths", the VPC's numbers are again skewed. Louisiana and Mississippi have the highest accidental gun death rates in the country. All the other VPC studied states - with either strong or weak gun control laws - have so few accidental gun deaths that the Center for Disease Control doesn't even calculate their rates, for it would be statistically inaccurate.

All these numbers are more meaningless than they appear, because the VPC's last grievous statistical canard was in how they defined "strong" gun control laws (they didn't). There was no itemization of which type of laws are in place in each state, no analysis of when they were enacted, nor a comparison of the before/after data. In a footnote, the VPC - without any further explanation - said "States with 'strong' gun violence prevention laws were defined as those that add significant state regulation that is absent from federal law, such as restricting access to particularly hazardous and deadly types of firearms (for example, assault weapons), setting minimum safety standards for firearms and/or requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, and restricting the open and concealed carrying of firearms in public."

The VPC doesn't explain why or how such laws allegedly affect suicides and accidents. They also fail to explain how such laws address violent crime, which is the second largest cause of gun deaths (about 35%) after suicides. Given lingering racist activities in Louisiana and Mississippi (Ku Klux Klan and Skin Head violence is still common), their higher than average homicide rates are perhaps understandable. Yet all the other eight VPC studied states are well below national homicide averages - in fact Montana, Wyoming ("weak" gun control law states), Hawaii and Massachusetts ("strong" gun control states) are all clustered in the bottom quartile for homicides.

Robbery is a different matter. New York and New Jersey are both in the top ten states for robberies, a crime which criminologists claim is deterred by private gun ownership. Louisiana is slightly above national robbery norms, and the other seven states are all below the medium (Montana and Wyoming, two VPC "weak" gun control law states, are in the bottom five for robbery rates of in all 50 states).

There are several conclusions we can draw by analyzing the VPC report. First, not defining the control variable - the "strength" of gun control laws - is amateurish as well as misleading. Second, any report concerning gun deaths that doesn't separate suicides is defective. Third, not pondering social, recreational and cultural differences between rural and urban states is comic.

Most of all, we learn again that no reporter should bother to even read a VPC press release, which have proven over the decades to be useless.