The Corner

Politics & Policy

Notes on a Gun-Control Dust-up between Ted Cruz and Chris Cuomo

(CNN screengrab via YouTube)

Mediaite has video and a good summary. A key exchange:

“How do you know it doesn’t work?” Cuomo asked.

The Texas senator claimed that “the jurisdictions with the toughest gun control laws, cities like Chicago, cities like Washington D.C., they almost invariably have the highest crime rates, the highest murder rates.”

“No, that’s not true,” Cuomo shot back. “The Giffords Center analysis says that with a few exceptions, states that have the strictest gun control measures have the lowest rates of gun deaths.”

These are not opposing claims but just different ones. Their biggest disconnect is between “murder rates” and “gun deaths.”

There is, in fact, no simple correlation between states’ gun laws and their homicide rates. There is a link between gun laws and “gun deaths” more broadly, as shown in the Giffords report and similar efforts, but it’s driven by suicides — and even there, such an analysis doesn’t rule out a substitution effect. (In other words, if looser guns laws merely cause people to kill themselves with guns instead of killing themselves some other way, a correlation with “gun deaths” will still emerge.) Nor does it address the various other limitations of merely comparing one variable with another.

More complicated research is largely inconclusive on whether various types of gun control work to reduce killings, as I’ve discussed in more detail here and here, and as a new RAND report documents. For what it’s worth, I’m a tentative supporter of some measures that target the people most likely to misuse guns while at most mildly inconveniencing the rest of us, such as gun-violence restraining orders and universal background checks.

But speaking of efforts to screen gun buyers, Cuomo also said:

Just a recent example, look at Connecticut, look at how they brought the numbers down.

Here he’s almost certainly referring to an absolutely terrible study claiming that after 1995, when the state passed a law requiring a permit to purchase a handgun, gun homicides fell a whopping 40 percent relative to the trend they’d have experienced otherwise. Here’s a chart I made for The American Conservative in 2016 showing what actually happened:

Basically, for a brief period in the early to mid 2000s, Connecticut had somewhat lower gun-homicide rates than it had had previously (after taking national trends into account). But non-gun homicides showed the opposite trend, canceling out much of the decline even if we assume the law caused it. Oh, and we shouldn’t assume that, because for six years after the law went into effect, as well as the entire decade after 2005, there’s no sign whatsoever of a reduction in gun homicides relative to non-gun homicides.

The authors of the aforementioned study got around this by (a) cutting the data off in 2005 and (b) comparing Connecticut not with national trends but with a statistical abstraction (“synthetic Connecticut”) that was mostly just the trend in Rhode Island — a state that experienced an abrupt murder-rate hike right after Connecticut’s law went into effect.

It’s a horrendous piece of research and no one should ever cite it, but three years after being published it’s still a mainstay in the gun debate.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Kat Timpf Chased Out of Brooklyn Bar

Fox News personality and National Review contributor Kat Timpf was forced to leave a bar in Brooklyn over the weekend after a woman she had never met became enraged upon learning she worked in conservative media. Timpf, who has twice previously been harassed while socializing in New York City, first described ... Read More
Film & TV

The Dan Crenshaw Moment

Given the spirit of our times, things could have gone so differently. On November 3, when Saturday Night Live comic Pete Davidson mocked Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw’s eye patch, saying he looked like a “hit man in a porno movie” — then adding, “I know he lost his eye in war or whatever” — it was a ... Read More
U.S.

The Present American Revolution

The revolution of 1776 sought to turn a colony of Great Britain into a new independent republic based on constitutionally protected freedom. It succeeded with the creation of the United States. The failed revolution of 1861, by a slave-owning South declaring its independence from the Union, sought to bifurcate ... Read More
Elections

Florida’s Shame, and Ours

Conspiracy theories are bad for civic life. So are conspiracies. I wonder if there is one mentally normal adult walking these fruited plains -- even the most craven, abject, brain-dead partisan Democrat -- who believes that what has been going on in Broward County, Fla., is anything other than a brazen ... Read More
Elections

There’s No ‘Neo-Jim Crow’ in Georgia

In the overtime of the 2018 elections, the Left can’t decide whether it opposes casting doubt on election results or insists on it. In the case of the Georgia gubernatorial election, narrowly lost by African-American activist Stacey Abrams, it’s unquestionably the latter. A cottage industry has grown up ... Read More
Economy & Business

Virginia Gives Away the Store to Amazon

Amazon’s deal with the Virginia state government to put part of their new headquarters in Crystal City is now official, and the details are dribbling out. Just about all of them are bad. Begin with the otherworldly claim that “regional and local transit systems have significant unused capacity, even during ... Read More