Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Marion Hammer's Junk Science

You would think that political figures would not rush to tout relaxed gun laws after the spat of recent shootings. You would be wrong. Florida Secretary of Agriculture held a press conference today celebating that Florida will soon have its one millionth concealed waepons permit holder. Putnam says so many people are getting concealed weapons permits because they just love the Second Amendment so much.

The person responsible are easing permit laws in Florida is longtime NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer. This is a woman no elected Republican official in Florida has the guts to cross.

"It's great news," Hammer said. "When the number of licence holders increase, crime decreases. We have a record number of licence holders now, and crime is the lowest it's been in 40 years."

Hammer's statement is hogwash. Crime has decreased because of better police work. The easy access to guns in America has increased gun violence in other states. Criminals buy guns in states with relaxed gun laws.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives traced more than 145,000 guns used in crimes in 2009 and found that more than 43,000 of those weapons were sold in other states.

Forty-nine percent of those guns were sold in Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, California or Arizona.

Hammer's talking point of more guns decreases crime comes from the John R. Lott Jr. book "More Guns, Less Crime." Lott is a Fox News pundit and pal of Grover Norquist. To say that Lott is fact-challenged is a understatement. Ian Ayres and John Donohue take Lott's book apart in the Stanford Law Review. Ayres and Donohue found that Lott fudged his numbers.

Lott graded crime on an inverted V. Lott claims that has gun laws were relaxed crime greatly went down. Ayres and Donohue looked at the actual numbers and found that Lott's thesis did not hold.

Of course, the thought that shall-issue laws caused crime to drop by almost twenty-five percent in the thirteenth year after passage and then caused it to increase by almost twenty-one percent in the fourteenth year is obviosly untenable. These wild swings are caused not by any true impact of shall-issue laws but by the selective dropping out from the individual year esimates of states that adopted laws more recently, leaving only the shrinking number of earliest adopters to identify the paticular annual impact.

Short answer: Lott is caught fudging the numbers.

Lott was using crime rates in Idaho and Virgina, where the NRA was successful with imposing relaxed gun laws, and comparing the crime rates to New York City and Washington D.C. during the height of the crack epidemic in the late 80s and early 90s. Lott's model was made to favor areas where the NRA was strong.

Marion Hammer is quoting junk science and the media should take her to task for it.

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