[David Kopel, July 23, 2008 at 12:00pm] Trackbacks
D.C. City Council's False "Findings" of Facts on Firearms:
D.C. City Councilman Harry Thomas has introduced a resolution titled "Sense of the Council of Future Handgun Resolution of 2008." The resolution makes the following findings:
(1) Accidental deaths by firearms rank in the top 10 of accidental deaths in our country.These finding are clearly false. According to the 2005 data (National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 56, Number 10, April 24, 2008, Table 18), the total number of accidental firearms deaths, for all ages combined, was 789--about half the figure that Thomas claims. Firearms are not in the top 10 causes of accidental death, but are outranked by the following specified categories: Drowning, Fall, Fire/flame, Motor vehicle traffic, Pedestrian (not including from motor vehicles), Other land transport, Other transport, Natural/envivronmental, Poisoning, Struck by or against, Suffocation.
(2) Approximately 1,500 deaths per year result from the accidental use of a fire-arm. Of the 1500, 75% are young males between the age of 14 and 25, who unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else.
According to the "findings," there are about 1,125 accidental firearms deaths annually, involving males aged 14 to 25. Using the excellent on-line query tool from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, you can find the 2005 total number of fatal gun accidents for males aged 14-25 was 219.
The Thomas "finding" claimed that males aged 14-25 were the victims OR the perpetrators of 3/4 of total fatal gun accidents. I have no idea where Thomas gets this figure from. For the figure to be correct, that males 14-25, who are the victims of about one-quarter of all fatal gun accidents, would also have to be the non-victim perpetrators of about nearly 2/3 of accidents involving all other groups. (2/3 x 3/4 [fraction of accident victims who are not males 14-25] = 1/2. We add the 1/2 to the 1/4 of accidents in which males 14-25 are the victim, to get males aged 14-25 as perpetrators or victims in 3/4 of total accidents.) This seems implausible, although not formally impossible.
The incorrect "findings" about accidents are then followed by two more findings, which are really policy statements apparently based on the findings:
(3)There must be strict standards to regulate the sale of handguns in the District of Columbia, including stringent waiting periods for the purchase of hand guns, as well as the implementation of comprehensive training and education programs on the dangers of handguns through the DC Department of Parks and Recreation partnering with other agencies.The finds are then followed the statement:
(4) There must be rigorous restrictions where gun stores can be located, a possible ban on private sales of handguns, and require gun shop operators to enter into voluntary agreements with community residents through their Advisory Neighborhood Commissions before such establishments can be issued a Certificate of Occupancy.
Sec. 3. It is the sense of the Council that strict and rigorous handgun regulations must be in place to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of District of Columbia residents.
Back in 1976, when the District's City Council enacted the handgun ban, it made the finding that "Most murders are committed by previously law-abiding citizens." This too is indisputably false, as detailed in the Heller amicus brief I wrote with Chuck Michel. (Pages 24-29.) The current City Council would have a better chance of passing gun laws which do not violate the Constitution if the Council were rigorous in its own factual investigations of the purported needs for extremely restrictive laws.