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Aberrant data, illogical analysis, weak analogies, and gross exaggerations are not a basis for public policy...

Koop CE and Lundberg GD. "Violence in America: A Public Health Emergency." JAMA. 1992; 267: 3075-76.

methodological and conceptual errors:

An editorial by Koop and Lundberg [56] promoting the guns and autos analogy demonstrated deceptions common amongst prohibitionists -- the inflammatory use of aberrant and sculpted data to reach illogical conclusions in the promotion of harmful and unconstitutional policy. The authors attempted to draw a comparison between motor vehicle accidental deaths with all gun deaths.

aberrant and sculpted data

"One million US inhabitants die prematurely each year as the result of intentional homicide or suicide" is a 35-fold exaggeration. [57] Whether carelessness or prevarication, such a gross distortion evokes, at best, questions regarding competence in this field.

It is doubtful that the authors would lump deaths from surgery, knife attacks, and hara kiri to contrive some inference about knives, but to claim that Louisiana and Texas firearms deaths exceed motor vehicle accidents, [58] it was necessary to total firearm accidents, homicides, and suicides. Koop and Lundberg, as promoters of the fashionable "public health model" of gun violence, should know that the root causes and, hence, prevention strategies are very different for accidents, homicides, and suicides. Also, it is not that firearms deaths rose, but that, in just those two states, they fell less rapidly than accidental auto deaths. [58]

In the forty-eight other states the converse is noted, firearms accidents (and most other accidents) fell 50% faster than motor vehicle accidents -- between 1980 and 1990, a 33% rate drop nationally for guns compared to a 21% drop for motor vehicles. [59] Should we base public policy on contrivances and exceptions?

illogical conclusions

Koop and Lundberg referenced a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report [58] that claimed seven reasons for the fall in motor vehicle accidents -- better cars, better roads, passive safety devices, children's car seats, aggressive drunk driving enforcement, lower speed limits, and motorcycle helmets -- but did not claim licensing or registration of cars was responsible for the fall. It is by a fervent act of faith, rather than one of science or logic, that Koop and Lundberg proposed their scheme.

The selectivity of the analogy is further apparent when we recognize that licensing and registration of automobiles is necessary only on public roads. No license or registration is required to own and operate a motor vehicle of any kind on private property. The advocates of the automobile model of gun ownership would be forced by their own logic to accept use of any kind of firearm on private property without license or registration. Since any state's automobile and driver license is valid in every state, further extension of the analogy suggests that the licensing of guns and gun owners would allow citizens to "own and operate" firearms in every US jurisdiction. A national concealed firearms license valid throughout this nation would be a significant enhancement of self-protection, a deterrent to violent crime, and a compromise quite enticing to many gun owners.

harmful and unconstitutional nostrums

Crime and homicide rates are highest in jurisdictions, such as Washington, DC, New York City, Chicago, and California, where the most restrictive gun licensing, registration, and prohibition schemes exist. Why are homicide rates lowest in states with loose gun control (North Dakota 1.1, Maine 1.2, South Dakota 1.7, Idaho 1.8, Iowa 2.0, Montana 2.6) and highest in states and the district with draconian gun controls and bans (District of Columbia 80.6, New York 14.2, California 12.7, Illinois 11.3, Maryland 11.7)? [49] [See Graph 18: "Representative State Homicide Rates"]

Precisely where victims are unarmed and defenseless is where predators are most bold. Gun prohibitionists argue a "need" for national controls, yet similar national prohibitions have not stemmed the flow of heroin, cocaine, and bales of marijuana across our national borders. What mystical incantation will cause homicidal drug criminals to respect new gun laws when they flaunt current gun laws and ignore the most basic law of human morality, "thou shalt not murder"? The proponents of adding to the 20,000 gun laws on the books have yet to explain how "passing a law" will disarm violent, sociopathic predators who already ignore laws against murder and drug trafficking.

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