Our rights do not originate with government, but they are to be "secured" by government.
Formerly: Libertarian Party of Citrus county

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Epidemiology and Gun Violence

By Tom Rhodes, 1/8/2012

FaceBook and many blogs are getting filled with liberal twist on the truth about gun research. Claiming the NRA is refusing to allow the government to do gun research. When the truth is applying the scientific method to research concerning guns is the farthest thing hoplophobes and the press want. Consider how vaccines were discovered and instituted. Ever hear of cow pox, and do you remember in science class being taught about the works in the 18th century, of London physician, Edward Jenner. The result was the first vaccine, and the virtual elimination of the killer disease small pox.

This was the result of observation, hypothesis, testing, and research. Evidence based solution to the problem of communicable disease. Some liberal hoplophobes what to treat "gun violence" like a public health issue, and use "evidence-based medicine" to develop solutions to "gun violence." The problem is their solution is always the same and ignores "evidence-based medicine." Their "cure" is always the same, disarmament. The actual evidence points to something different.

If gun violence is to be treated as a "disease" we should look at who is infected and who isn't infected by the disease, where gun violence occurs and where it doesn't. One thing is very clear, and highlighted by the horrific Netwon event, mass gun violence never infect and causes the death of people who are known to be or are potentially armed. Mass shootings happen in gun free zones, crazy criminals wanting to do massive damage go out of their way to find places where they are not likely to meet armed resistance. Shooters don't attack gun stores, gun shows, police stations, shooting ranges, or other places where the probability of armed resistance to their carnage exists. The targets for their mayhem is Gun-Free Zones. Even these criminally insane don't wage gun battles against armed people.

Epidemiologic reasoning considers it to be a fact that disease prevention is better than treatment. Using this pardyme the deaths and sickness associated with vaccines are measured against the benefits to individuals and society that prevention of that disease offers. That methodology is not generally used by those who want to treat gun violence as a disease, as they don't consider the benefits and costs when looking at cures. Let's however consider an epidemiologic approach to "treating" gun violence. In 2003 the Center for Disease Control and again in 2004 U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2004, both failed to find any written evidence that gun control reduced violent crime, suicides or gun violence. Using FBI crime statistics for every county in the USA, Dr. John Lott, analyzed 18 years of data creating the largest national survey of gun ownership and state police documentation in illegal gun use. The conclusion of this data clearly demonstrated that adopting concealed-carry gun laws cut death rates from public multiple shootings by 69 percent, and that the Brady law and other similar laws had no beneficial results. Not only that but allowing people to carry concealed weapons deters violent crime - without any apparent increase in accidental death. If states without right-to-carry laws had adopted them in 1992, about 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes and 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided annually. When concealed-carry laws went into effect in a given county, murders fell by 8 percent, rapes by 5 percent and aggravated assaults by 7 percent. This corresponds with modern FBI data which shows that violent crime is down even while gun ownership has increased dramatically.

Immunization from disease has side effects, some people who are inoculated contract the disease and die, and some part of the general populations has decreased risk of the disease even though they were not immunized. They call this "herd immunity." This appears to apply to guns as well. Not everybody needs to be armed for the effect of decreased crime in a community to be felt. Kennesaw Georgia, instituted a law mandating that the head of every household must be armed, although not 100% of the people followed that law and not every household is actually armed, the violent crime rate in Kennesaw dropped 80% and has varied but remained massively lower ever sense.

Today's news reflects the fact that the general population of the US, even in liberal New York, understands the benefits of some unknown part of the population being armed. The biggest outcry over a news orginazation outing gun owners in two New York counties, was not from gun owners, but from those who were unarmed. They felt that they were now at increased risk of crime because the criminals now know they are unarmed. This is the same increased risk that "No Guns Allowed" signs on the doors of the Aurora Colorado Theater caused. That theater was farther away from the insane mass murderers apartment, then other theaters showing Batman, but was chosen because it guaranteed the shooter less chance of armed resistance. Mass shootings in the overwhelming majority of cases occur in "gun-free" zones.

Worldwide the most massive murders of people in our history happened in the 20th century, where governments murdered hundreds of millions of their own citizens. The common thread to all these government mass murders was gun control, the people were effectively disarmed making those places gun free zones. China, USSA, Germany, Cambodia, etc. all shared the same disregard for individual right to keep and bear arms. The empirical evidence is clear; Gun-Free zones don't make those people in those zones safer. The appropriate epidemiologic inoculation against mass murder is to allow weapons to be carried by those at risk and/or their defenders.

Some liberals point to data saying that you're 5 times more likely to be shot if you own a gun. They however ignore exposure and the fact that that the rate of being shot with your own weapon are miniscule. This is like saying because some people still get the flu who are vaccinated, nobody should get a flu vaccine. Exposure to disease increases the risk of being a victim of that disease; constant exposure will dramatically increase the likely hood of being a victim. People, who are exposed to high levels of violent criminals, are more likely to be the victim of gun violence, even if they own a gun. Violent criminals themselves are more likely to both have a gun and to be victims of other violent criminals.

The solution to communicable disease is not outlawing exposure to germs, nor getting rid of your antibodies. You cannot keep people from being exposed to germs, some germs will always get through. Vaccinating against germs is effective. If you don't have the antibodies to fight germs you will get sick. Antibiotics and antibodies stop disease by killing germs, vaccines create antibodies that confront and kill germs. Eliminating antibiotics and antibodies is not the method to fight germs any more than removing bullets and guns from the general population is the way to prevent or stop gun violence. You don't stop germs passively; your body wars against germs, kills and eliminates them. Just as disarming your body of antibodies, and access to antibiotics is not the way to fight germs, disarming and limiting societies access to arms is not the way to stop gun crime.

If gun violence is to be treated like a disease then we need to use the same methods we use against disease. The science and looking at violent crime form an epidemiologic perspective make it clear. Eliminate violent criminals (germs) - lock them up and remove them from society will reduce the harm they cause, and Arming (inoculating) society against future exposure to violent criminals (germs) provides prevention. We have done both and they both have proven effective, violent crime is way down as we've locked up violent criminals and the people have purchased arms at near record levels and easier concealed carry laws has resulted in more gun crime stopped. Like vaccines it is not 100% effective and we have rare instances where the inoculations results in undesired and deadly results, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. We would not eliminate vaccines because on rare occasions there are bad reactions to the vaccine. We would not make antibiotics less effective and weaker because of very rare reactions to those antibiotics. Why are the rare criminal misuses of firearms the rationale to disarm society or reduce the efficiency of the arms we allow the society to possess?
Disarming the people as an epidemiologic response to gun violence would be like cutting off every man's penis in response to AIDs.

If we follow in the footsteps of Dr. Edward Jenner, and use scientific method to look at gun violence rationally we must conclude that more restrictive gun control laws as a solution to gun violence are analogous to making germs illegal instead of inoculating the population against the germs. "Gun-Free" zones have proven ineffective. Allowing and having the means to confront armed violent criminals has proven to be and is far more effective epidemiologic means of dealing with the disease of gun violence.

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