Math Problems

Armed and Safe has a rather funny story about some newspaper who asked a bunch of their “authorized journalists” what they would do to prevent mass shootings and such. Between the usual cries to ban everything and stuff come this piece of false, statistical fear mongering:

The gun problem in the United States is huge. Some 4,000 soldiers have died in Iraq during the long war. Virtually none of these were killed by handguns, but by improvised explosive devices, rockets and, on occasion, AK-47s. During the same period, in the United States, 200,000 people have been murdered, the vast majority with handguns.

200,000 people murdered in the US since the Iraq war began? That’s funny, if you start adding up all the homicides recorded by the FBI, you don’t pass 200,000 until you make it back to 1995. Eight years before the beginning of the current Iraqi adventure. And that’s also including fifty or sixty thousand homicides where no firearms were used. To reach 200,000 homicides involving handguns (which is apparently what’s being implied here), you would likely have to go back to before the first Gulf War. But I suppose that wouldn’t sound as scary..

It is decidedly safer to be a solder in Iraq than to simply walk in areas of our cities. More people are killed annually by handguns in the tri-state area alone than all the soldiers killed by handguns in Iraq, ever. The difference? Soldiers are armed to the teeth, and trained to use their weapons. “Bad guys” don’t want to mess with someone who is armed.

Umm, no, the difference is, you’re comparing a single apple to all the orange groves in Florida. There are something like 299,000,000 more people inside the US than there are troops in Iraq. Which means the actual risk (even using the bogus claim of 200,000 murders) is about forty times higher in Iraq.

To put this in some perspective, there were 55,692 Unintentional Fall Deaths in the US from 2003 to 2005 according to the CDC. By the “logic” in the first quoted paragraph, gravity in the US is exponentially more dangerous than a battlefield. Shall we repeal the law of gravity? Or wrap everybody and everything in foam?

Oh, and while we’re looking at CDC numbers, they reported just 35,896 Homicide Firearm Deaths in that same time frame. The FBI, while having a lower total of 29,202 for all homicides via firearm, indicates there were just 22,687 homicides where a handgun was used in those same three years. Either way you slice it, you’re roughly twice as likely to die from an accidental fall than you are to be murdered with a handgun.

Anyhow, I must admit it was cute how he played the ‘not anti-gun, but..’ card before later going on to suggest banning things and turning the country into a total police state where everyone would be subject to random searches at any time..