A rather cute effort is being made by anti-gun zealots in New York State to link the SAFE Act with lower death rates. It all began with a story in the Legislative Gazette about a study conducted by the left-leaning Violence Policy Center that allegedly shows states with strict gun laws have lower death rates. Supporters of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s unconstitutional SAFE Act immediately leaped to the conclusion that the study reaffirms the law’s effectiveness.
The problem? There are several.
First, the study is based on statistics collected duringthe years 2011 and 2012. The SAFE Act was passed in January 2013. Therefore, no matter what one’s feeling on Cuomo’s gun grab, there is no way of claiming the study is an endorsement of the SAFE Act, which didn’t take effect until after the study was published.
Second, the gun violence study liberally draws statistics from suicides to inflate the researchers’ numbers. For example, the state with the highest death rate of gun-releated deaths is Wyoming, which had 117. Of those, 102 were suicides, leaving only 15 deaths by homicide or accident. In a state with gun ownership at nearly 63%, 15 deaths is low. Compare that to New York where gun ownership is just a shade over 18%. Stripping away suicides, the Empire State saw 436 deaths due to homicide. For those keeping score at home, that’s 436-15. And the the state with just 15 homicides is being held up by the Violence Policy Center as being a gun-crazed, shoot-‘em-up state.
Third, another study showed that the Violence Policy Center can’t even confirm if the suicides they are tracking had anything to do with guns in the first place. They also tend to “triple count” gun cases based on their status and have even counted deaths caused by gun owners who killed somebody in a vehicular accident. The National Review calls the organization out for “cooking the books” and adds that legitimate cases of self-defense, in which no charges are filed, are counted as homicides.
Proponents of the SAFE Act assume that New Yorkers aren’t smart enough to recognize smoke-and-mirrors math when they see it.
Cross-posted at the Mental Recession