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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gun Laws and Murder Rates

Two of many guns carried at an open carry rally. To the surprise of many gun rights haters no one was shot that day.
Notice that the title isn't gun laws and gun death rates. Unlike the sleazy spinmeisters at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign I'm not cherry picking data to make a false point. In their 2013 State Scorecard Why Gun Laws Matter they claim that gun control works because there is allegedly a 70% overlap of strict gun control and low gun death rates. Reality looks a little different.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center's numbers the 10 states with the highest murder rates are:

1. Louisiana
2. Alabama
3. Mississippi
4. Maryland
5. Michigan
6. South Carolina
7. Missouri
8. New Mexico
9. Nevada
10. Georgia
According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University the 10 states with the most respect for gun rights are:

1. Arizona
2. Alaska
3. Wyoming
4. Kentucky
5. Vermont
6. New Hampshire
7. Kansas
8. Nevada
9. South Dakota
10. Idaho

There's only one state, Nevada, on both lists. That's only 10% overlap. It should also be noted that Nevada is near the bottom of both lists further weakening the argument that gun control reduces murder rates.

Let's look at the situation from the other end of the spectrum:

According to the Death Penalty Information Center's numbers the 10 states with the lowest murder rates are:

50. Iowa
49. Hawaii
48. Vermont
47. Utah
46. New Hampshire
45. Idaho
44. Maine
43. Oregon
42. Massachusetts
41. Minnesota
According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University the 10 states with the least respect for gun rights are:

50. California
49. Massachusetts
48. New York
47. Hawaii
46. New Jersey
45. Illinois
44, Maryland
43. Rhode Island
42. Connecticut
41. Michigan

Once again there is little correlation. Only two states appear on both lists, Hawaii and Massachusetts. Weakening the argument that gun control works is the fact that three states that appear on the list of low murder rate states, New Hampshire, Idaho, and Vermont, also appear on the list of states most respecting gun rights.

It does no good to implement gun control if the murder rate remains high. Since it is social factors that drive the murder rate up and down focusing on guns and gun laws kills people since it doesn't address the root causes of the violence. It's past time for gun rights haters to face the facts and stop barking up the wrong tree.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


This article was originally published at the Nolan Chart on November 2, 2008. With Obama now ramping the Iraq war back up by sending 1500 more troops there I'm republishing this article on this blog.

Many have said that there isn’t much difference between Sens. McCain and Obama and taken to calling them McBama. I’d like to offer a prediction about how things will go under the next President, who at this point looks like it will be Sen. Obama, and suggest that there will be a strong parallel with Pres. Richard Nixon’s administration, hence the name Obixon.

In 1968 while campaigning Nixon said he would “end the war and win the peace in Vietnam.” After posturing as a peace candidate he went on to escalate the war in many ways, not concluding it until 1973. During the five years that the war continued under his administration Nixon ordered stepped up bombing of North Vietnam and Cambodia, and ground attacks into Cambodia and Laos. In this author’s opinion there is no other conclusion to come to but that Nixon lied during his campaign and had no intention of ending the Vietnam War quickly.

In 2008 Sen. Obama is running as a peace candidate, promising to end the war in Iraq in sixteen months or perhaps less. His website states, “Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: successfully ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased.” More can be read on the subject here,[link edited for length]

Perhaps he will end the war in Iraq quickly, but with history as a guide there’s little reason for optimism. Just like in Vietnam, the local forces the US is supporting in Iraq are doing poorly, the political and economic situations are unstable, and the enemy is committed to a long war of attrition. No doubt there will be surprises from Al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgents that Pres. Obama will have to deal with. Pres. Bush has already escalated the war by attacking into Pakistan and Syria. No doubt Pres. Obama will do the same. As pressure to end the war increases his administration will become more aggressive, hoping that will defeat the enemy. If Pakistan becomes unstable or is taken over by an anti-American regime how else will an Obama administration react but violently?

Therein lies the parallel with the Nixon administration. The peace promises mean nothing. Guerrilla wars such as these carry their own momentum that no administration committed to maintaining the American empire can overcome. As Ayn Rand said, “There is no proper solution for the war in Vietnam, it is a war we should never have entered. We are caught in a trap: it is senseless to continue, and it is now impossible to withdraw”. So it now seems the political class views the occupation of Iraq.

The only way out is to renounce foreign intervention and begin bringing home all American troops and intelligence operatives from around the world. This way we will not be seen as having been defeated, but as having learned to live at peace with the world. Unfortunately, Sen. Obama doesn’t see things this way. We’re in for a long war.


Feb. 8, 2009 update: Associated Press published an article entitled “Obama considering at least 2 Iraq withdrawal plans”. To quote from the article, “At the White House’s request, top military officials recently offered an assessment of the risks associated with the 16-, 19- and 23-month withdrawal timetables, without saying which is preferred. Obama’s top two defense advisers, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, have not yet provided a formal recommendation to the president on a timetable, an official said.” Is Obama backing away from his campaign promise to end the war quickly? It would seem so.

May 11, 2009 update: Andrew Bacevich said on Democracy Now! “…I think its worth noting the comment that General Odierno in Iraq made over the weekend at a press conference. I think the question was something to the effect that, ‘Hey, how about the continuation of violence in Baghdad after the success of the surge?’ And Odierno, I think rather petulantly, said, ‘Hey, look. This insurgency is going to go on for another five, ten or fifteen years.’ I agree with that assessment in Iraq.”

Sept. 1, 2009 update: Looks like the same comparison is now being used about Afghanistan. Gene Healy wrote “Afghanistan may be Obama’s Vietnam”.

January 26, 2010 update: Ivan Eland is predicting a restarting of the fighting in Iraq in “The Next Crisis for Obama?“.

July 5, 2011 update: Ivan Eland compares Obama & Nixon, “Like Nixon, Obama Will Waste Lives to Get Reelected