Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gun grabbers in the headlines

I've been noticing that whenever I see an article that argues for gun control, or stirs up fear of .50 caliber (or .30 caliber or .22 caliber) rifles, it's quite often based on a new "study" by this Violence Policy Center. Go to their site and see for yourself the kind of media exposure they get.

There's a pattern here. Many of the news stories refer to rankings compiled by the VPC. A Los Angeles newspaper headline might read "California Leads Nation in Drive-by Shootings." The next day's El Paso newspaper headline is "Texas Second in Drive-by Shootings." And the local media eats it up without any critical thought!

The problem with ranking states like this is that some state has to rank number one, some state has to rank number two, and so on. The rankings tell us nothing about the distribution of gun crimes among states, or over time. This stuff matters. The many VPC ranking studies aren't meant to enlighten, they're meant to generate scary headlines, and nothing more.

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