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A second look at the effect of the DC gun ban.--

BACKGROUND

When the Heller case came out, Carl Bogus pointed to a "careful study" by Colin Loftin, et al., (325 New Eng. J. Med. 1615 (Dec. 5, 1991)), showing a huge drop in homicide resulting from the DC gun ban. I cited criticisms of that study. Tim Lambert responded on his own blog, apparently thinking that I had been unfairly hard on the Loftin study.

Now that I've had a chance to look at some of the DC data, I think that in my original post I was much too easy on the Loftin study. There are even more problems with the Loftin study than I originally thought.

In response to Bogus's endorsement of the Loftin study, I cited an analysis by Dean Payne:

According to Loftin's numbers, adjusted to a per-capita basis, the District's post-ban benefit vanishes altogether. Its proportionate rate reductions are smaller than those achieved by its neighbors. . . .

Loftin's report dismisses a number of confounding factors, but fails to present adequate justification for doing so. Despite claims to the contrary, the presented measure of lives saved by the District's restrictive handgun policy is structured such that it is inherently contaminated by:

- lives saved by a region-wide drop in homicide and suicide rates from other causes, affecting both study areas;

- lives saved by the population exodus from the District;

- killings in which non-firearms means were substituted for firearms. My analysis suggests that essentially all of the benefit perceived by Loftin is the result of this or similar contamination.

Finally, the study period ends in 1987, just as Washington DC began suffering a continuing homicide wave that earned it the dishonor of being the Murder Capital of the United States.

LAMBERT'S DEFENSE

Tim Lambert defended the Loftin study. First, Lambert claimed: "the study did not conclude that the reductions were caused by the ban since it is possible that some other factor was the cause."

Actually, I think Lambert is wrong here. The Loftin study rejected other explanations as implausible, concluding without any qualification that "the law reduced gun-related suicides and homicides substantially and abruptly." The study also claimed, "The data from the District of Columbia provide strong evidence that restrictive licensing of handguns reduced gun-related homicides and suicides" in DC, but not necessarily in other jurisdictions.

Second, Lambert wrote:

While the numbers given in Loftin's paper were for numbers of homicides and suicides rather than rates, Loftin et al state that they get similar results if age adjusted per-capita rates are used. (This corrects for change in the age structure of the population as well as its size.) The results for age adjusted per-capita rates were given in [unpublished] supplementary material.

Lambert then presents these rates, which were directly standardized for a control variable, age.

But the claim I endorsed was about the necessity of using homicides rates, rather than counts, without making any claims about other control variables, such as age. Lambert does not present any Loftin data on rates without age adjustments, so I have no reason to think that Payne was incorrect in the claim that I cited.

THE FAILURE TO CONTROL FOR RACE

So what's wrong with adjusting rates for control variables like age, gender, and race that might affect the conclusions? Nothing at all; indeed, the failure to control for major demographic changes is one of the two chief defects of the Loftin study. Again, it's embarrassing that a scholarly journal would publish a study on changes in homicides without adjusting for important demographic changes in DC, in particular race.

Let me explain: African Americans have much higher homicide victimization rates than Whites (nationally, about 5-7 times as high in the 1976-87 period). According to the Current Population Survey data, in the pre-gun ban period, there averaged about 97,000 more African Americans in DC than in the post-ban period. That 18% drop in African Americans between periods should be associated with a drop nearly that large in homicides in DC, which needed to be controlled for, but it wasn't in the Loftin study.

This one error by itself could account for the results reported by Loftin et al. Indeed, had Loftin controlled for race, it is likely that the DC gun ban would have been associated with a statistically significant increase in homicides, rather than the opposite.

CHOICE OF PERIODS

The other big problem with the Loftin study is the choice of periods. As Payne noted, the study period ends in 1987 just as homicides in DC are exploding. DC homicides went from 147 in 1985 to 194 (1986) to 225 (1987) to 369 (1988) to 434 (1989) and to 472 in 1990. If data through 1990 (or even 1989) had been included in the post-gun ban period (the study appeared on December 5, 1991), the reduction effect reported would have disappeared and almost certainly the opposite association (increased homicide) would have been shown.

In other words, the results reported in the Loftin study are merely artifactual. They are artifacts of the failure to control for racial demographic changes and the choice of study periods. Making either of these changes should have been sufficient to eliminate or reverse the direction of the effect reported by Loftin et al. in their paper (whether expressed in counts or rates or age-adjusted rates).

DATA NOT WELL BEHAVED

Another serious problem, one that may prevent any persuasive time series analysis, is that the DC data are not "well behaved." The huge increase in homicides in the late 1980s is probably not the result of the gun ban (but rather crack cocaine and gangs), yet without looking at comparable major cities (which the Loftin study does not do), it is impossible to get even a rough sense of whether Washington, DC, fared worse than other cities without gun bans.

Yet that is not the only troublesome pattern in the data. After peaking in the 1971-74 period at an average of 266 homicides in DC, homicides dropped precipitously to 235 in 1975 and 188 homicides in 1976 (the law banning guns took full effect after legal challenges on Feb. 21, 1977; it was also enforced for over two months in 1976: September 24, 1976 - December 8, 1976).

Thus, there was already a strong downward mini-trend in force when the gun ban took effect. Indeed, for the first six years of the gun ban (1977-1982), in only one year (1979) did the number of homicides fall below the 188 homicides recorded in 1976, a year mostly before the ban took effect Is this mini-trend real or just artifactual? If it's real, then the gun ban might have fairly quickly put an end to a then recent, but strong downward trend in the data. But one can't really tell whether this mini-trend is real, even by looking at monthly data. What all this suggests is that the often-difficult decision about what curved shape to fit to time series data can determine whether one gets an upward or downward deviation from the trendline.

Actually, I think that, until the mid-1980s, the DC homicide counts fairly nicely fit the numbers of African Americans in DC, rather than Loftin's gun ban hypothesis. As homicides jump substantially from 178 in 1967 to 266 per year in the 1971-74 period, the number of African Americans in DC makes a similar jump from 385,000 in 1967 to 583,000 in the 1971-74 period, thus increasing the population most highly victimized. By 1976, the number of homicides has fallen to 188 while the number of African Americans has also fallen substantially to 444,000 (remaining within 36,000 of that figure through 1987).

CONCLUSION

In short, I was too easy on the Loftin et al. study when I blogged about it in June.

The reported results are merely artifacts of serious failures in its research design. The failure to control for race and the choice of time periods to study entirely drive the direction and the strength of the reported effects. Unfortunately, however, the data are ultimately not well enough "behaved" to justify a full, careful time series analysis that might persuade a cautious researcher of the probable real effect of the DC gun ban -- whatever that might have been.

UPDATE: Carl Bogus responds to my first post on this issue here.

Splunge:
One thing I've always found strange about the argument that banning guns will lead to lower murder rates is that it seems to assume the broad truth of the classic sleazy murder defendant's argument about why it should be manslaughter instead of Murder One.

I didn't mean to kill him, folks. I just meant to scare him or wound him or something, and then, well, there was this struggle...the heat of the moment...it all goes blank...the gun just kind of went off, almost by itself it seems...

If Jack seriously wants to kill Jill, plans it out and all, I don't see why not having a gun will stop him. He can knife her, hit her with a baseball bat or tire chain, or just strangle her. It's not like murder was rarely committed before handguns were widely available, e.g. before 1830 or so.

So if people kill because that's their goal, banning handguns would just mean they turn to other means. This is progress? On the other hand, if banning handguns strongly reduces killing, it suggests -- to my mind rather implausibly -- that quite a lot of murders are kind of accidental heat of the moment things, the result of having a particularly lethal means just at hand, rather than having to go fetch a big knife from the kitchen, or sneak up behind somebody with a stout piece of rope.

This is not to even get into the more obvious criticism that if people really want to kill someone, and are not daunted by the threat of execution if they are caught, it seems a bit inconsistent to think they will be deterred by the fact that obtaining a gun for the crime would also be illegal and punishable by a really serious fine.

Either way, it seems there's an underlying assumption in these positions that most murders are committed by people who aren't really serious about killing, who kill only through momentary passion or a passing spell of bad thinking, so that if you just put a speedbump in their path to the crime they'll recover their senses and give up the intention forever.
7.9.2008 3:37am
James Lindgren (mail):
Splunge:

The counter-argument (ala one of my mentors, Zimring) is that guns are more lethal. So people who try to commit suicide with poison are less successful than with guns. And robbers who use knives are less lethal than those who use guns.

Personally, I think that may be why some gun controls seem to result in a slight reduction in violence (see Ayres & Donohue).
7.9.2008 3:46am
Cody (mail):
re suicide: A valid point, but to some extent the same logic holds as with homicides: If people really want to kill themselves, they will find a way. Repeat attempts are relatively common among survivors of attempted suicide (and very common among people with a history of depression or other mental illness), and suicide rates in general track poorly with rates of handgun ownership. Japan, for example, has a rate over twice the United States, despite not having any legal handgun ownership at all.

I certainly wouldn't argue that handgun ownership has no impact on suicide rates, but the impact seems like it may be less than logic would indicate.
7.9.2008 6:10am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
If people who commit suicide using firearms succeed more often, then wouldn't it also be true that those who are serious about committing suicide (as opposed to half-hearted attempts by those seeking attention: IE most teenagers) be drawn to a means that is sure to work?

Can you say "self-selection bias"?
7.9.2008 7:16am
Gabriel (www):
I have ceased to be surprised when medical journals dabble in social science and do it poorly. I'm not saying that doctors are stupid, I would probably make worse mistakes were I to try to do a clinical trial and publish it in a sociology journal.
7.9.2008 7:45am
PersonFromPorlock:
Regarding the study's shortcomings, it's just more evidence that in some groves of academe, a 'fact' is any assertion that supports a Higher Truth.
7.9.2008 7:58am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Lindgren:

I pointed out the failure to control for race and age in a comment to your original post. I also said that the proper technique to use was the method of intervention analysis. Once you make the proper adjustments for demographics you get a time series in the homicide rate. Then you model the time series which might require a trend term. Then you look to see if the any of the parameters change after gun control. It's not necessarily valid to just compare before and after averages. Moreover the lack of a control city can be overcome by using randomized intervention analysis.

While I have not read the original study (I don't have a subscription to NEJM), it does appear that the authors neglected these important considerations. The peer reviewers should picked up on all these obvious flaws, so I have to conclude that the NJEM editors had a political agenda. This article should never have been published.
7.9.2008 8:19am
John Lott (mail) (www):
Lingren:

I am not sure what you have posted that is new here. Possibly I am missing something, but it appears to me that all these points have been made before (e.g., failure to control for race, dates arbitrarily picked).
7.9.2008 8:26am
Tom Tildrum:
A Washington Post columnist recently cited uncritically to the Loftin/McDowell study. Prof. Lindgren, you might consider emailing the writer with your analyses.
7.9.2008 8:32am
Kevin P. (mail):
If a study supports gun control, then it is a good bet that Tim Lambert will automatically support it.
7.9.2008 9:33am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Not too long ago, a Brit living in the US wrote a column on, among other things, gun ownership in the US and the palpable lack of violence. He talked about his friends visiting, surprised to not be murdered in their first week.
Of small towns, he said that if you knock on the front door of somebody's house, you'll probably be welcomed. If you try to break in, they'll probably kill you.
But, in six years, he found the level of violence far less than in Britain.
What he didn't factor in, or was too chicken to say, is that the violence levels where he and his buddies visiting are likely to be are among whites. Which are about the same as the boring Luxembourgers'.
Failing to control for race is both PC and likely to screw up your figures and your perceptions.
7.9.2008 10:29am
Kirk:
James Lindgren,

Without a doubt long guns are more lethal than knives. But there's a fairly high survival rate for handgun-shooting victims; a distinct majority, iirc. I don't know what the survival rate for knifings is, but it obviously can't differ by an order of magnitude.
7.9.2008 10:43am
autolykos:
Splunge - This>>>


One thing I've always found strange about the argument that banning guns will lead to lower murder rates is that it seems to assume the broad truth of the classic sleazy murder defendant's argument about why it should be manslaughter instead of Murder One.


Isn't entirely true. In a lot of places, and certainly in a lot of big cities, a lot of the gun fatalities aren't the classic "A wants to kill B because A thinks B has wronged him/angered him/has something B wants" type of murders. A very large portion of the murders, and certainly a large portion of the gang violence, are caused by altercations that escalate until someone ends up pulling a gun (we had 1 such murder just outside the Taste of Chicago over the weekend). Most people aren't naive enough to think that the people wouldn't carry knives if guns were illegal, but knives are less lethal than guns and there's certain types of murders (such as the proverbial shooting of the guy across the street) that wouldn't happen if knives replaced guns. You'd also have other types of murders (such as drive-by shootings that would, at the very least, be significantly more difficult if guns were absent.

Of course, all of this ignores the fact that the gun control laws in Chicago and DC did absolutely nothing to curb the availability of guns in those cities, but those are the arguments.
7.9.2008 10:44am
BD:
There is some truth to the point about guns being more lethal, but gun-ban advocates miss a more important point.

It's probably true that, all things being equal, there will be more homicides in places where there are guns than in places with no guns. However, gun "bans" such as the one in D.C. do nothing more than create an environment where criminals have guns and law-abiding people do not.

Also, it's worth pointing out, in regard to the issue of deterrence, that the D.C. authorities have something like a 1% success rate in solving murder cases and bringing the perps to justice. Thus criminals there have no reason to fear either their victims' being able to protect themselves or the prospect of an eventual criminal prosecution. They can operate with complete impunity.
7.9.2008 10:47am
The Unbeliever:
The counter-argument (ala one of my mentors, Zimring) is that guns are more lethal. So people who try to commit suicide with poison are less successful than with guns. And robbers who use knives are less lethal than those who use guns.
I'll play devil's advocate for a bit. Let's assume for the sake of argument this is true. Doesn't this present a bit of a quandary when it comes to firearms training?

Several groups like the NRA provide a valuable service by strongly encouraging proper gun safety and training. The general justification for this is, if you're more familiar with a gun and how to use it effectively, accidents are less likely to happen and your odds of defending yourself from an attacker are better (plus you learn the various local gun laws). But this training also increases the trainee's lethality with said weapon, the same way the burglar with a knife is more lethal if he's had martial arts training.

So if we say that persons choosing to commit illegal homicides are more likely to use guns because they're more effective, does this provide an argument against firearm training for legal purposes? Should we end all training, close all the ranges, and hope that people who buy guns will remain incompetent in their use, in hopes of reducing the lethality of crimes?

And if we're so worried about the availability of effective weapons causing an increase in crime lethality, why hasn't martial arts training been outlawed? After all, it provides people with 100% concealable weapons--their own hands and feet--which could be accessed and used in a crime of passion quicker than a gun.
7.9.2008 10:48am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
So does Loftin make his raw data available? It would seem a Small Matter of Programming to stuff it through R and check some of these suppositions.
7.9.2008 10:53am
AKD (mail):
I've always been uncomfortable with comparing suicide rates in Japan with those in the US because of the huge cultural differences around death and suicide. Methods used by the Japanese for suicide would probably seldom be utilized by Americans, regardless of availability of the means.

Australia, however, provides a more relevant comparison, especially in regards to the effects of firearm bans. If I recall correctly, Australia's very restrictive ban on firearms did in fact lead to a decrease in "gun violence," but the greatest contribution to this reduction came from lower rates of suicide by firearm. Suicide rates, however, did not go down (and I believe have been trending upwards).


When the firearm suicide rate for Australian males declined the hanging rate increased simultaneously, with no statistical difference in the rate of change of the two methods. A similar pattern of simultaneous divergence in hanging and firearm suicide rates of a 15- to 24-year-old subgroup occurred at a not dissimilar rate over a longer time period. Rates of suicide by hanging were found to have begun increasing prior to the decline in firearm suicide. The declining rate of firearm suicide in the 15- to 24-year-old subgroup coincided with an increase in the overall suicide rate. Relationships between trends in hanging and firearm suicide differed between states and between urban and non-urban areas within Queensland, with the firearm suicide rate falling more rapidly in urban areas, especially following the introductions of restrictions to weapon purchases. Individual suicide method choice may be related to independent changes in the social acceptability of each method, as well as to an increasing prevalence of suicide in younger males, who are more likely to use the hanging method.

Study


Note that there are even suggestions that the firearm ban was not the sole cause of the change in methods (the same shift in cultural norms that allowed such a ban to occur may have had an influence on the choice of method, legality and availability aside).

In my opinion, any study that includes suicide in "gun violence" statistics should be rejected out of hand.
7.9.2008 10:54am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
So if we say that persons choosing to commit illegal homicides are more likely to use guns because they're more effective, does this provide an argument against firearm training for legal purposes?


No, it does not.

On an equally serious note, perhaps your research should be used to justify requiring action movie actors and rap video artists to always use the "sideways" grip when showing a gun in use. This will train the population to fire in an ineffective manner.
7.9.2008 11:09am
AnonLawStudent:
A. Zarkov,

The medical literature is notorious for its - politely put - poor use of statistics. JAMA devoted three full issues between 1990 and 2000 to documenting and addressing the problems associated with ineffective peer review. One of the recurring suggestions was that researchers have their methodology reviewed by a statistician prior to collecting data. Another recurring suggestion - the addition of a qualified statistician to the list of peer reviewers - was adopted only relatively recently, even by the most prestigious journals.
7.9.2008 11:38am
Kevin P. (mail):

Richard Aubrey:
Not too long ago, a Brit living in the US wrote a column on, among other things, gun ownership in the US and the palpable lack of violence. He talked about his friends visiting, surprised to not be murdered in their first week.
Of small towns, he said that if you knock on the front door of somebody's house, you'll probably be welcomed. If you try to break in, they'll probably kill you.
But, in six years, he found the level of violence far less than in Britain.


Here is the article by Justin Webb of the BBC: America's 'safety catch'

Recommended reading!
7.9.2008 12:23pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Here is the article by Justin Webb of the BBC: America's 'safety catch'

I don't know why this article has become such a cause celebre among you gun rights supporters. You seem to believe that it reaches the conclusion that the prevalence of guns in the U.S. is what accounts for the peacefulness of suburban areas of the U.S. But that is not at all what the article concludes at all. It rather bemoans yet again Britain's very serious problem with binge drinking and the violence associated with it.
For those of you who have problems with reading comprehension or just read the part of the article that reinforces your preconceived notions (that the Brits want to arm themselves to keep soccer hooligans in line), here is the conclusion of the article:


One reason - perhaps the overriding reason - is that there is no public drunkenness in polite America, simply none.

I have never seen a group of drunk young people in the entire six years I have lived here. I travel a lot and not always to the better parts of town.

It is an odd fact that a nation we associate - quite properly - with violence is also so serene, so unscarred by petty crime, so innocent of brawling.


Clinging to the very deplorable murder rate of DC is very convenient for those of you who hate any kind of gun control laws, but of course New York's example would seem to prove what you are so desperate to disprove. Also to continue to call D.C. the nation's murder capital is patently untrue. That honor, by quite a large margin, has belonged to New Orleans in 2007, almost certainly will in 2008. New Orleans also would have won in 2005 if murders had not taken a holiday because of Katrina (hey maybe confiscating all those guns did some good).
7.9.2008 1:12pm
Dreadnaught (www):
Good thing I was not a victim of gun violence.

- Ron Goldman
7.9.2008 1:18pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
I wasn't either

- Nicole Brown Simpson
7.9.2008 1:31pm
tom gunn (mail):
Ryan Waxx;

Not really! Have a look at these.

Birdman Horizontal

Re suicide: Last time I looked a successful suicide was completed between the fourth and fifth attempt. If the problem isn't correct after the wrists are slashed and then after the pills are swallowed and then after the car is crashed, banning guns aint gonna fix it.
7.9.2008 1:39pm
Joel Rosenberg (mail) (www):
Unbeliever -- a few bona fides: I'm a mildly well-known firearms instructor in my state, and regularly teach classes for folks who want to get a carry permit here in Minnesota, and have have taught (and helped teach) other instructors.

Short answer: nope. As a practical matter, only a small percentage of what's taught in firearms classes has any relevance at all to self-defense shooting. As a bunch of us have been known to say, "It's not about shooting."

(A lot of what I teach has, I hope, a lot of relevance to self-defense, as in "the best way to win a fight is to be somewhere else when it happens.") There are some -- some nationally prominent -- shoot-'em-up schools (and I really am not disrespectful of them; I just come off that way), but how much what they teach actually has any relevance to self-defense shooting is, at best, questionable.

While I'm not particularly eager to teach gangbangers and other ne'er-do-wells how to shoot better, I think it's at least strongly arguable that that would lead to a reduction in the loss of innocent life. There's a whole lot of spray-and-pray going on among the bangers (not as much as, with all due respect to some of the very professional LEOs who participate here, among the cops*, but a lot), and as far as I can tell, the standard mode is to keep blasting until either the other banger goes down, or the shooter hears clicking noises.


_____________
* I don't have the cite handy, by the NYPD fairly recently released their stats for some huge number of years. At 0-6 feet, 49% of the shots cops fired missed.
7.9.2008 1:52pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"The medical literature is notorious for its - politely put - poor use of statistics."

Absolutely and NEJM is one of the worst. They (like so many) confuse statistics with running statistics packages. Packages are great and I use them, but they have a serious drawback. The researcher will limit his analysis to what's available in the package that he has access to. Thus he must accept the assumptions built into the canned programs in package.

I think Lindgren should acknowledge that he's not the first to discover that the study did not control for race as John Lott pointed out. If he read the comments on his own blog he would have discovered that.
7.9.2008 2:02pm
David M (www):
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 07/09/2008 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
7.9.2008 2:14pm
Shelby (mail):
Do the crime analyses that account for race take into account some of the co-variables, such as whether blacks are more likely to live in urban areas?
7.9.2008 2:16pm
federal farmer (www):

Clinging to the very deplorable murder rate of DC is very convenient for those of you who hate any kind of gun control laws, but of course New York's example would seem to prove what you are so desperate to disprove.


I bet you'd find a higher correlation between number of police, increased patrolling and arrest rates, and higher incarceration rates and duration and a safer NY than you will with gun control.
7.9.2008 2:33pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
This is what happens when you mistake correlation with causality without a critical eye.
By the same logic I might argue that gun control resulted in hundreds of thousands of people moving out of DC.
7.9.2008 3:19pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F.
Missed the point. Againagainagain. Jeez. Have you seen your optometrist lately? If you saw him, could you see him?

The point is not that guns make us safer--they probably do but that's a separate issue--but that not controlling for race is a huge screwup in looking at rates of violent crime.
7.9.2008 3:25pm
geekWithA.45 (mail) (www):
Good Grief!

Why is anyone taking Lambert seriously at this late date? Didn't he blow out most of his credibility some time back?
7.9.2008 3:32pm
JoshL (mail):

Unbeliever -- a few bona fides: I'm a mildly well-known firearms instructor in my state, and regularly teach classes for folks who want to get a carry permit here in Minnesota, and have have taught (and helped teach) other instructors.


You're also an excellent fantasy author, but I suppose that has little bearing here.
7.9.2008 3:40pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The point is not that guns make us safer--they probably do but that's a separate issue--but that not controlling for race is a huge screwup in looking at rates of violent crime.

Huh, what on earth does that article (I was discussing the BBC commentary, not the main topic of this thread) have to do with race? The first part of the article goes on about how safe NYC is (which of course has a large minority population and some of the strictest gun control laws in the country). Then the BBC article continues on about how the suburbs and small town (e.g., predominately white) America are safe too, comparing it to rural and suburban Britain (which is even whiter than suburban America as the minority, especially non-Asian, population in Britain is limited to the large cities). The British violence the BBC commentary was concerned with is a phenomenon of young, primarily white, men who spend way too much time at pubs binge drinking.

WTF are you talking about?
7.9.2008 4:10pm
byomtov (mail):
ALS,

The medical literature is notorious for its - politely put - poor use of statistics. JAMA devoted three full issues between 1990 and 2000 to documenting and addressing the problems associated with ineffective peer review.

This may well be true, but at least there is some peer review going on. I do think that when it comes to improving the quality of published statistical analyses legal scholars might do well do begin their efforts closer to home.
7.9.2008 4:14pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Oh, and Richard. Not to be un-PC or anything but it was a white guy in good 'ol Baton Rouge who shot to death that Japanese student for trespassing. Of course he was a good law abiding citizen because he was acquitted. After all, everyone deserves to shoot one foreigner for free (well, not exactly for free since he did lose the civil case).

So much for well-mannered white folks.
7.9.2008 4:26pm
Joel Rosenberg (mail) (www):
You're also an excellent fantasy author, but I suppose that has little bearing here.

:) Thank you very much . . . and I hope so, on both counts; when I write fantasy, I'm a professional liar, and when I post here, I try real hard to tell the truth.
7.9.2008 4:36pm
Joel Rosenberg (mail) (www):
JFT: like it or not, there is a strong correlation between race and crime in the US; black folks are disproportionately both perps and victims of violent crime. A racist would say that's because of the melanin; other folks (I'm "other folks") would point to all sort of sociological reasons that don't have diddly to do with melanin.

That doesn't, of course, mean that white folks can neither commit violent crime nor be victimized by violent crime, but it does mean that if you don't control for race -- and other factors -- when looking at crime in the US, research into violent crime isn't going to teach you much.
7.9.2008 4:44pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F.
The point is, the Brit and his friends think the US is, surprisingly, peaceable. They get the digested figures back home and think it's like that all over here.
But it isn't. It's awful in the black and latino neighborhoods and dull as hell in the white neighborhoods. The Brit didn't figure this out.

He was surprised to find the peaceable kingdom is loaded with guns. At worst, we're non-violent gunowners.

However, he wasn't hanging out in the 'hood, and he hadn't figured out that the figures the rest of the world hears are not homogenized all over the country, but instead highly concentrated in small areas.

Yeah. Nice, nice job, J.F. You got a white shooter and you think that rebuts/proves anything? ANYTHING? Man.
7.9.2008 4:46pm
guess'd:
The highly publicized Vancouver-Seattle study back in the '80s also failed to control for race, as I recall. Someone on the old Compuserve forums sorted through the data and found that the group most likely to be affected by gun bans, i.e., middle and upper income white males, were found to commit homicides at a LOWER rate in Seattle than in Vancouver.

Tangentially, I wonder if drug laws might correlate to crime rates more closely than gun laws?
7.9.2008 4:56pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Why is anyone taking Lambert seriously at this late date? Didn't he blow out most of his credibility some time back?

That's rich when this site frequently cites John Lott as though he has credibility left.

The point is, the Brit and his friends think the US is, surprisingly, peaceable.

As I pointed out, he first was amazed by how safe multiracial New York City was, then he went on to extol the safety of suburban and rural America. And as I pointed out he was using the relative safety of non-urban America as a contrast to the problem of violence in similar, overwhelmingly white, areas of Britain.

That you think that he somehow missed, or felt he couldn't mention, the racial component of violent crime in this country, doesn't even make sense in the context of the conclusion of his piece (since he was obviously bemoaning the behavior of young white males in Britain).
7.9.2008 5:55pm
bonhomme (mail):
J.F. Thomas talking about credibility is rich. Have you taken back your absolutely inaccurate statement that "...in towns throughout the south in the '50s... Remember, about 500 people a year were being lynched in this country--and that was the documented cases." Link. As I pointed out at the time, "The Tuskegee Institute is probably the very best resource there is for information about the history and numbers of lynchings here in the United States. They list eight lynchings total in the fifties (years 1950-1959 inclusive). No year ever has as many as 500 lynchings. 1892 was the worst year with 230 lynchings (69 white 161 black). In the years 1882 - 1964 there were a total of 4,742 lynchings (1,297 white and 3,445 black). ". Link. So, do you want to take this opportunity to be credible? If so, maybe you want to revise your grossly inaccurate satement. Ass.
7.9.2008 6:18pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F. You and reality continue to diverge. The point is that controlling for race is an absolute necessity in issues like the DC gun ban's effects vis a vis other places and other circumstances.
The Brit failed to control for race when he was surprised to find the US mostly peaceable. It would be, except for pockets, which he didn't know.
Like the study under criticism, he failed to control for race.
In his case, it led to sufficient surprise to merit a column/op-ed/open letter. Had he known better, he'd have written a different piece explaining why, although enormous expanses of the US are dulldulldull, the exceptions are where the numbers come from.
Had the study controlled for race, they'd have come to a different, unwelcome, conclusion.
7.9.2008 7:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Oh, and Richard. Not to be un-PC or anything but it was a white guy in good 'ol Baton Rouge who shot to death that Japanese student for trespassing. Of course he was a good law abiding citizen because he was acquitted. After all, everyone deserves to shoot one foreigner for free (well, not exactly for free since he did lose the civil case).
Uh, no. The circumstances under which that shooting took place were somewhat bizarre. The student was in the habit of running up to complete strangers shouting at them in Japanese, because he liked to take pictures of the startled reactions that it caused.

In the particular circumstances, the student and one of his American friends had arrived at the wrong address for a Halloween party (and it wasn't quite Halloween yet, if I recall correctly--a day or two before). They rang the front door bell. The resident didn't know who these people were in the silly costumes, so he didn't open the door.

Then Hattori knocked on the door leading in from the carport. By this point, the resident is understandably concerned about this. He went to the door with a gun in his hand, and opened the door. Hattori came running up, apparently doing his, "scare the locals for the great pictures" routine, and the resident opened fire, fearing for his safety.

Terrible mistake? Absolutely. He should not have opened the door and gone outside. But under the circumstances, in a bad part of Baton Rouge (are there good parts?), a jury was prepared to believe that the resident was genuinely concerned about his safety.

Hattori's hosts should have explained that Baton Rouge was a rough place, and what might be poor manners elsewhere could be very scary to someone who was afraid for his safety.

In any case, J.F. Thomas, as usual, takes an extraordinarily rare event, and prtends that this is somehow common or typical. It is about as rare an event as there is. Some years ago, Professor Donohue claimed that legitimate gun self-defense is about as common as incidents like Hattori's tragic and avoidable death. I knew that wasn't right--so I started blogging every incident that I could find of a defensive gun use in the U.S. It is a hoppin' and a jumpin' place these days!
7.9.2008 7:19pm
TDPerkins (mail):
I'm glad Mr. Clayton pointed out that young Mr. Hattori acted like an idiot, in a threatening fashion, and that more than anything else brought about his death.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
7.9.2008 8:05pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I was particularly interested in this because the guy was in the US on the American Field Service program, with which I was affiliated for twenty-plus years.
Ordinarily, the kids are bright, cheerful, and sensible.
I talked to the reporter who did the original story--who had been in AFS herself--and she was somewhat reluctant to go beyond the "wrong address" issue.
She was an anti-gunner, as it happened.

If you put your hand into a wood chipper, you may not "deserve" to go through life one-handed, but you will go through life one-handed. If you try to alarm somebody in a sufficiently realistic fashion, you may succeed. You may not deserve to be dead, but you'll be dead.
There is such a crime as "felony stupid" for which the trial and sentence are not delayed at all.
Nobody involved in such a crime is happy about the way it turned out...but that's the way it turned out.
7.9.2008 11:25pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oh, yeah.
J.F. Give us some credit. You know about this Hattori case. But you figured we didn't.
Haven't you figured out that it is pretty common that most of us know what it is inconvenient for you that we should know?

Apparently not.
7.9.2008 11:27pm
Jagermeister:
After all, everyone deserves to shoot one foreigner for free.
Congratulations, Mr. Thomas. You have succeeded in becoming a caricature of yourself.
7.9.2008 11:32pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Terrible mistake? Absolutely. He should not have opened the door and gone outside. But under the circumstances, in a bad part of Baton Rouge (are there good parts?), a jury was prepared to believe that the resident was genuinely concerned about his safety.

Actually, there are lots of good parts of Baton Rouge. It is of course the home of Louisiana State University and is a typical college town full of middle and upper middle class neighborhoods surrounding the University. And except for the occasional serial murderer (which was not happening at the time of this incident), Baton Rouge was a fairly safe town (it has experienced a recent upsurge in violence since its population rose by more than 25% since Katrina).

The incident did not occur in one of the bad neighborhoods of Baton Rouge, but one of the white working class neighborhoods, one of those that our BBC commentator was telling us is so remarkably free of crime and violence.

I'm glad Mr. Clayton pointed out that young Mr. Hattori acted like an idiot, in a threatening fashion

I would really like to know where Clayton gets his information since nothing of the sort was presented at trial, even by the defense. Mr. Peairs certainly felt threatened, but the standard is supposed to be whether a reasonable person would feel threatened such that deadly force is necessary. Even if the facts were as Clayton alleges, a reasonable 6 foot 2 man armed with a gun doesn't need to shoot a 130 pound 16 year old dressed as John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever. The case was jury nullification at its worst.

Contrary to what Clayton claims, vigilante justice is very common. In Houston just a couple months ago a man shot and killed two men who had burglarized his neighbor's house but posed absolutely no threat to him (he was on the phone to the police and decided to take matters into his own hands). Now you all may think these two punks got what they deserved, but last I checked burglary isn't a capital crime.
7.10.2008 11:55am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F.
I am finding you amusing. You take a fifteen-year old event in BR (or some long-time-gone date) and try to make something out of it.
As if it proves something. The Brit in question didn't say anything like "perfect". He said it was surprising there was so little evident violence.
And so your point is absolutely without any relevance at all, with the gilding that it is so obviously useless instead of having to be considered before the useless becomes obvious.
And, while burglary is not a capital crime, the two perps had come onto the shooter's property and were approaching him. That, were it to get to court, would not be a capital crime. In Texas, however, it is sufficient for a lethal response.
Now, recall this is a lawyers' blog. Lawyers can make distinctions, either because they're useful, or because they need to know what should be hidden under a truckload of bushwah.
And they can make a distinction between a self-defense homicide and a duly constituted court complete with sentence.
Jeez. Your arguments presume everybody here is an idiot.
Have some respect, wouldya.
7.10.2008 1:30pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
And, while burglary is not a capital crime, the two perps had come onto the shooter's property and were approaching him.

They were not approaching him. He was on the phone talking to 911 watching them remove property from his neighbor's house. He actively went out and shot them even though the 911 operator was telling him to stay in the house and wait for the police to arrive. He simply didn't want them to get away before the cops showed up.

I'm sure you can find the 911 tape on the internet and listen to it. Just because Texas is an uncivilized state where vigilante justice is acceptable doesn't mean the rest of the country should stoop to that level--as much as you and Clayton wish it were so.

You and Clayton tend to exaggerate the circumstances to make your vigilantes look good. Even Clayton's website is an odd mix of foiled burglaries, domestic disputes, drunken brawls and confusing circumstances which would hardly tend to convince the skeptical that the average citizen having a gun is a good idea. My favorite story when I checked today is the guy who shot his drunk neighbor who had apparently stumbled into the wrong house.
7.10.2008 4:59pm
Philip F. Lee (mail) (www):
Loftin &McDowall claimed that the adoption of the DC gun-licensing law "coincided with an abrupt decline in homicides by firearms." The ban took effect in September, 1976 (Washington Post, "A History of the D.C. Gun Ban," 6/26/2008).

A review of D.C. homicide rates provided by the Disaster Center's transcription of FBI UCR data belies this claim.

D.C. reached a peak population of 809,000 in 1968 that declined thereafter and was decreasing at the rate of approximately 2% year-on-year average around the time of the law's adoption.

While FBI homicide rate data has not been age adjusted or corrected for demographics, murder rates should show a detectable effect of the handgun ban (if it has an effect) since it removes the influence of population change. DC murder rates do not appear affected by the handgun ban. In fact, DC murder rates appeared to peak at 38.3 per 100,000 in 1973, decreased to 26.8 in 1976 and then holding steady around 28 for the next few years. In 1988, the DC rate increased rapidly to 59.5 and that trend continued until 1991 when the DC rate reached 80.6.

If there were a beneficial effect of the D.C. handgun ban in reducing homicides, it is too subtle to show in a cursory visual analysis of the murder rate time series.

Virginia and Maryland state data is shown for comparison. Virginia and Maryland are growing in population during this period. Maryland's homicide rate peaked in 1972 at the rate of 12.5 and fluctuated in the range of 7.9 to 10.1 between 1976 to 1988. Virginia's murder rate peaked at 11.8 in 1972 and thereafter trended down to 7.8 by 1988.

Examining numbers of homicides for DC, Virginia and Maryland show DC averaged 260 homicides during the period 1971-1975 and 197 in the period 1978-1982, a decrease of 24% from before to after the handgun ban. During those periods, the DC population decreased from an five-year average of 735,000 to 646,000, a decrease of 13%. Maryland showed a decrease in five-year homicide averages for the same periods of 15% despite an increase in five-year average population of more than 3%. Virginia decreased homicides by 15% despite an increase in five-year average population of more than 10%

Considering the changes in population, D.C. underperformed compared to both Virginia and Maryland over the period considered.
7.10.2008 5:48pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F. When the guy went out of his house, the perps approached him on his property.
It is not known if they had some nutty idea of going after him, or if they had figured that going past him was the best way out of their situation.
However, the disposition showed that locals sympathetic to his concern for his own safety. Texas is a no-retreat state.
In any event, your hauling up two white guys who shot somebody does what, exactly, about the argument on controlling for race?
7.10.2008 6:26pm