Saturday, January 13, 2007

More Junk Science from Harvard

link
States With Higher Levels of Gun Ownership Have Higher Homicide Rates

For immediate release: Thursday, January 11, 2007
Boston, MA -- Firearms are used to kill two out of every three homicide victims in America.. In the first nationally representative study to examine the relationship between survey measures of household firearm ownership and state level rates of homicide, researchers at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that homicide rates among children, and among women and men of all ages, are higher in states where more households have guns. The study appears in the February 2007 issue of Social Science and Medicine. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.09.024

Matthew Miller, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Injury Prevention at Harvard School of Public Health, and his colleagues David Hemenway and Deborah Azrael, used survey data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the world’s largest telephone survey with over 200,000 respondents nationwide. Respondents in all 50 states were asked whether any firearms were kept in or around their home. The survey found that approximately one in three American households reported firearm ownership.
Matthew Miller, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Injury Prevention at Harvard School of Public Health, and his colleagues David Hemenway and Deborah Azrael, used survey data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the world’s largest telephone survey with over 200,000 respondents nationwide. Respondents in all 50 states were asked whether any firearms were kept in or around their home. The survey found that approximately one in three American households reported firearm ownership.

Analyses that controlled for several measures of resource deprivation, urbanization, aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment, and alcohol consumption found that states with higher rates of household firearm ownership had significantly higher homicide victimization rates for children, and for women and men. In these analyses, states within the highest quartile of firearm prevalence had firearm homicide rates 114% higher than states within the lowest quartile of firearm prevalence. Overall homicide rates were 60% higher. The association between firearm prevalence and homicide was driven by gun-related homicide rates; non-gun-related homicide rates were not significantly associated with rates of firearm ownership.

These results suggest that it is easier for potential homicide perpetrators to obtain a gun in states where guns are more prevalent. “Our findings suggest that in the United States, household firearms may be an important source of guns used to kill children, women and men, both on the street and in their homes,” said Miller.

This study was supported by the Joyce Foundation.

All I can say is...BULLSHIT!   To get the type of statistics THEY want to see, they divide the states into "quartiles." WHY? Because if they did it on an individual state level, or, as Prof. John Lott did, by county, they wouldn't get the "desired" results. Their desired results? They want to prove that more guns equal more crime, not less, as Dr. Lott has shown.

I also recommend you check out the Alphecca blog on this subject. I think Mr. Soyer says it more eloquently than I can. But then, I'm not college educated either.


Current Mood: Pissed Off
Current Music: None
Current Gun: EAA Witness .45ACP

4 comments:

Tim Lambert said...

They did do it on an individual state level.

You know, if you had read the study, you wouldn't have got it so wrong.

Big Gay Al said...

Ahh, I stand corrected. Apparently they only organized it into quarters after getting the individual state stats.

"After dividing the states into four groups based on how many households had guns, the researchers found the states in the highest quartile of firearm ownership had overall homicide rates 60 per cent higher than states in the lowest quartile."

Big Gay Al said...

I should also add, that if you check out another blog, you can find the two mistakes that I did miss. The Other McCain

As he points out the following:

* The authors focus on states, rather than cities or counties -- I live in Maryland. I don't know what the "firearm prevalence" is in Maryland, but I know that there's a lot of crime in Baltimore and the DC suburbs. Yet, by focusing on state-level data, authors create a formula whereby which the homicide rate in Baltimore is associated with guns owned in places far away -- Cumberland, Potomac, Hagerstown, etc. -- where the homicide rate is much lower.
* The chicken (crime) and the egg (guns) -- One logical response to a high prevalence of crime is to buy a gun for self-protection. So, if crime rises, gun ownership may rise in response. Therefore, the relationship between gun ownership and homicide rates might be the exact opposite of what Miller, et al. suggest.

MaverickNH said...

Think of countries where firearms that kill citizens are NOT those kept in the home...

Are you thinking of police death squads, paramilitary insurgents, military dictators, etc? Places where the populace is unarmed and awaits the knock in the night?

The paper is based on "States with firearm prevalence more than one standard deviation above the mean: Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, Mississippi, South
Dakota, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming", which comprised < 6% of the US population at time of survey. Those are some pretty weak numbers. In terms of causes of injury we should be addressing, firearms comes in way, way down the list.

As in most of this Harvard group's work, their difficulty is not in trying to say something true, but is in trying to say something important. But since they make their living from gun-control funding organizations, they have to keep pumping out the papers and dramatic news-bites for the press.