A rather cute effort by anti-gun nuts in New York state. The Legislative Gazette ran a story about a study that allegedly shows states with strict gun laws have lower death rates. The study was conducted by the Violence Policy Center. Supporters of Governor Cuomo’s unconstitutional SAFE Act legislation quickly linked the law to the study, which also showed a drop in gun death rates in New York.
New Yorkers Against Gun Violence commented on the recent report and issued a statement showing satisfaction with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election to a second term.
“In a clear victory for gun safety advocates, Governor Andrew Cuomo beat back challenges from the gun-lobby-supported candidate Rob Astorino [who] had promised to repeal the ban on military-style assault weapons and background checks to keep guns away from felons, domestic abusers and the mentally ill.”
With the SAFE Act protected for now, Leah Gunn Barrett of NYAGV expects gun deaths in New York to continue dropping.
“I think we’ve had very good enforcement of our laws in New York state.” said Barrett. “I think you can attribute that to the slight decline that you’ve seen from 5.11 deaths, to 4.99. We would expect as the SAFE Act is implemented, particularly the background check on all gun sales provision, which I think is the most significant part of the act. As that kicks in, we would expect to see that rate drop even further,” she said.
The problem? There are several.
First and foremost, the study show statistics from 2011 and 2012. The SAFE Act was passed in the middle of the night in January of 2013. Therefore, no matter one’s feeling on Cuomo’s gun grab, the study can make no link between their numbers and the SAFE Act.
Second, the gun violence study liberally draws statistics from suicides to inflate their numbers. For example, the state with the worst death rate was Wyoming, which had 117 deaths according to the study. 102 of those gun deaths were by suicide, 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 actually have 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.