I’m no statistician, but . . .

. . . I can’t help but think that even if I were a statistician, I’d have trouble figuring this out.

Using the latest available data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the group Connecticut Against Gun Violence reports the Nutmeg State had the fifth-lowest rate of gun-related homicides of any state in 2004 — 5.3 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with a national average of 10.3.

It also had the seventh-lowest rate of suicides involving guns, 8.4 per 100,000, compared with the national average of 11.1.

5.3 shooting deaths per 100,000 people, but 8.4 suicides (per 100,000) in which a gun was used (assuming, anyway, that “suicides involving guns” refers to suicides committed with guns, rather than people slashing their own carotid arteries because of depression over draconian gun laws). Call me dense, but I can’t figure out how suicides can outnumber deaths.

Anyway, let’s forget all that, and look at the comparison of Connecticut’s total shooting death numbers relative to the national average. 5.3 per 100,000 comes out to .0053%–which is certainly an encouragingly low number. Compare that to the national figure of 10.3 per 100,000, for .0103%–that means that in terms of shooting deaths, Connecticut is .005% safer than the rest of the country. I’m not a betting man, but I’d say a 99.9897% chance of not being shot to death in a given year is pretty damned good. When one considers that I’m not the suicidal type (thus cutting my risk of being shot to death about in half), and that I don’t break into houses, sell drugs, or run around with gangs, it would seem that my chances of being shot to death are low enough for me to legitimately wonder “What ‘epidemic of gun violence’?”

The statistics quoted in the article also pay no attention to sociological factors like income, employment, education, and–dare I say it–race, and how those compare to the rest of the country. Such factors would almost certainly affect the number of shooting deaths.

The thrust of the article is that the more common gun ownership is, the more shooting deaths there will be. I’m not trying to deny that there is probably some truth to that assertion–just as skiing accident fatalities tend to be more commonplace in Colorado than in Nebraska, and traffic fatalities tend to be more numerous in areas with heavier vehicular traffic than in the trackless wilderness.

From there, the article goes on to praise Connecticut’s restrictive gun laws. Since the point of the article seems to be that lower rates of gun ownership are a desirable outcome, the conclusion I draw is that the mechanism by which restrictive gun laws are hoped to reduce shooting deaths is the discouragement of gun ownership.

If discouraging gun ownership is good, then banning it outright (the article’s claim that “the solution isn’t to ban guns,” notwithstanding) must be even better, right?

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