Sunday, December 3, 2017

Don't Trust Them ...

... the media, that is. Accuracy in media reporting is a hot topic right now, what with the wild accusations of "fake news" being thrown about, and ABC's suspension of Brian Ross for, essentially, lying about Trump and Flynn. But it shows up anytime that the media decides to be partisan. For instance, I was just reading today an op-ed at U.S. News and World Report entitled "How High Is Our Capacity for Carnage?" The piece is, as you can probably tell from the title, a call for banning "high capacity" magazines, which the authors define as anything greater than 10 rounds. What is their evidence that such bans would be effective? Glad you asked. They write:
Today, eight states have implemented a limitation on the size of magazines. Six of those eight are among the 10 states with the lowest rates of gun violence. In the other 42 states, however, magazine size is unlimited. Given that federal law no longer restricts their size, the only limitation is technological, meaning that 100 round magazines not only exist, they are perfectly legal. One hundred bullets fired without stopping to reload.
And for their statistical basis, they link to a 2013 list of states at the Violence Policy Center on state firearm deaths. The states that rank the lowest are (starting at number 10): Iowa, California, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and Hawaii. However, this isn't a list of deaths by gun violence as the authors claim, but a list of gun deaths for any reason, including suicide. When you look at firearm homicides, the list of the safest states is much different: North Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Utah, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts and Oregon. This dichotomy is especially apparent in Wyoming which has one of the highest firearm death rates but a homicide rate of zero.

         Germane to this debate is the impact of high capacity magazine bans on gun deaths. If you examine the tables, the states with the lowest rankings (homicide and suicide) remained stable between 2004 and 2014 (other than a couple switching places). However, the NY Safe Act, which limited magazine capacity, was not passed until 2013. Connecticut's law likewise was not passed until 2013, and didn't take affect until 2014. Hawaii's magazine restriction is only applicable to handguns. So, there is not only a lack of evidence that magazine restrictions reduce gun deaths, but there is no correlation even when looking at the states cited by the U.S. News' authors.

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