Reading comprehension problems (and/or plain old honesty problems) from the civilian disarmament crowd–what a surprise

A couple days ago, I mentioned an op-ed piece in the New York Times, written by Glenn Reynolds. Another person who took note of the piece was John Whiteside, who clearly was considerably less pleased about Reynolds’ conclusions than I was.

The issue he chose to address was Reynolds’ assertion that the crime rate in Kennesaw, Georgia dropped significantly soon after the gun ownership requirement ordinance was passed.

“The only problem is that it’s not actually true. Courtesy of blogger Tim Lambert:

Here are the actual numbers (from Sociology & Social Research v74:1 p51)

Kennesaw Burglaries 1976-1986
76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 48 85 86
41 21 22 35 35 54 35 35 29 32 70

The Kennesaw law was passed on March 15, 1982 and pretty clearly had no effect on the burglary rate.


The problem with your riposte, John, is that Reynolds never claimed that burglaries, specifically, decreased–he asserted that crime, in general, did. You do, I trust, realize that burglary is not the only crime in our society.

Actually, one of Whiteside’s readers made that very point in the comment section, but Mr. Whiteside, our intrepid pro-civilian disarmament blogger, was ready for him:

“Well, except that Reynolds talks specifically about burglaries at some length in his piece. So if you don’t like that measure, ask him why he staked his argument on that claim.”

Some length? Burglary was mentioned in two sentences, and one of those dealt specifically with “hot” burglaries (those in which the burglar is fully aware that the house is occupied), and the fact that those occurred more rarely in the U.S. as a whole than in countries with more restrictive laws regarding firearm ownership. Reynolds never claimed that Kennesaw’s burglary rate went down in response to the firearm requirement law. In other words, he “staked his argument” on no such claim. “Whoops,” yourself, Whiteside.

If you’re going to argue with what someone says, then have the intellectual honesty, the moral courage, and the common decency to argue with what he actually says.


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