?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Those Who Live By The… + efforts to reduce violence - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

> Recent Entries
> Archive
> Friends
> Profile
> my rpg writing site

October 7th, 2009


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
01:23 am - Those Who Live By The… + efforts to reduce violence
I was exceedingly unsurprised to read the following article:
People who carry guns are far likelier to get shot – and killed – than those who are unarmed, a study of shooting victims in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has found.

It would be impractical – not to say unethical – to randomly assign volunteers to carry a gun or not and see what happens. So Charles Branas's team at the University of Pennsylvania analysed 677 shootings over two-and-a-half years to discover whether victims were carrying at the time, and compared them to other Philly residents of similar age, sex and ethnicity. The team also accounted for other potentially confounding differences, such as the socioeconomic status of their neighbourhood.
As the article clearly states, this is a preliminary study, but I suspect that the preliminary results will prove to be valid. If so, I definitely hope this data will impact laws and policy.

On a substantially less controversial note, there is a link in the above article to an article about a highly successful effort in reducing violence. I ran into a few mentions of this program several months ago and was definitely impressed with what I saw. It's exceedingly clear that drug abuse is a problem caused by certain negative social and socioeconomic conditions and responds well to being treated as such, and unsurprisingly, it looks like exactly the same thing is true wrt violence. I'd love to see serious money devoted to this. Given that violent crime rates have already fallen substantially, we might be in a position that after a couple of decades of hard, well-funded work, to greatly reduce rates of violence of all sorts in the US. I have no idea if such efforts would also reduce more general aggressive responses such as support of wars not directly related to national survival or for leaders perceived to be "tough", but that would be a wonderful side-benefit. Seeing humanity become somewhat more peaceful & domesticated fits in well with the idea that we are a species that already mostly lives in cities.
Current Mood: tiredtired

(22 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:alobar
Date:October 7th, 2009 09:48 am (UTC)
(Link)
I would like to know who funded the study and did the funding body influence the outcome of the study.

I would also like to know if the study counts violent criminals who carry guns and are shot by cops.
[User Picture]
From:chiashurb
Date:October 7th, 2009 11:28 am (UTC)
(Link)
It probably should, but I'm not sure that affects it's validity one way or the other, in terms of the live by/die by dynamic. And of course, you have to define "violent criminal." Is that a person who is engaged in an act of violence when shot? What about a person who is shot while fleeing? What about a person incarcerated for a violent crime, who is shot by guards during an attempted prison break? Hypothesize the decedent is unarmed at the time of the prison break. What about a person who is armed today, and shot today, but not doing anything violent today, but has a ten year old conviction for simple assault and battery? That could make the person a "violent criminal," but doesn't seem like it ought to correlate very strongly to whether or not the person is shot today.

Of course, you could construe the results the other way, and say that those who are most likely to suffer a violent death are also most likely to arm themselves, which sounds almost reasonable!

I think the fact that this study was done on the streets of Philadelphia probably had a strong filtering effect--a person who carries a gun on the streets of Philly is almost certainly either somebody who leads a violent lifestyle or a cop. (Arguably, a cop is somebody who leads a violent lifestyle). You might get much different results if you looked at people who get shot in rural New Hampshire. Then again, there might not be a statistically validatable population of people who get shot in rural New Hampshire.
[User Picture]
From:cusm
Date:October 8th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)
(Link)
99% of all statistics are wrong 1% of the time. The problem with anything of this sort is how easily the conclusions can be skewed depending on how the numbers are interpreted, or more importantly, collected.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:October 7th, 2009 06:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
[User Picture]
From:mindstalk
Date:October 7th, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
(Link)
While it may be that the type of people who carry firearms are simply more likely to get shot, it may be that guns give a sense of empowerment that causes carriers to overreact in tense situations, or encourages them to visit neighbourhoods they probably shouldn't,

I'm glad they at least acknowledged that first possibility, but it's really the elephant in the room for their study. They controlled for age, sex, and ethnicity -- how about controlling for gang membership or involvement in the drug trade? The implication that guns make your life more dangerous, rather than people leading dangerous lives and likely to get shot being more likely to have guns, is pretty unsupported here.

Now the violence/disease link, that sounded interesting.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:talonstrike
Date:October 7th, 2009 01:55 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I agree with pretty much everyone above. One of two things is going on here: bad science, or bad reporting. They're confusing correlation with causation. This does not mean that the conclusion is incorrect, it merely means that this study (as reported in the media, at least) is invalid as proof.

Here are a few relevant links, the last of which is an article from The Register about the same study, which highlights its flaws.

http://xkcd.com/552/
http://imgur.com/kfCmN.jpg
http://www.venganza.org/piratesarecool4.gif
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/04/guns_attract_bullets/

Overall, I agree with you about the potential benefits to society, but I would like to see scientists and science reporters stop sabotaging the cause with this kind of sloppy work.
From:machineiv
Date:October 7th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think the thing many comments here ignore is that the actual research isn't faulty. Saying that owning a gun makes a person more likely to get shot with this science is bad logic, but that's not what the UPenn researchers have determined. The actual conclusion though is very telling:

Conclusions. On average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. Although successful defensive gun uses occur each year, the probability of success may be low for civilian gun users in urban areas. Such users should reconsider their possession of guns or, at least, understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures.

The Register article cited is directly faulty.

"Medical researchers in Philadelphia have conducted a study which indicates - according to their interpretation - that carrying a gun causes people to get shot more often. "People should rethink their possession of guns," say the medics."

Nowhere in the conclusion from UPenn does it state that carrying guns causes people to be shot. It does state that gun owners should rethink their possession. It doesn't say they should get rid of guns. What it's saying is, "If you have a gun, and think it'll protect you, you might think twice about that since our data shows that owning a gun doesn't necessarily protect you."

At best, the Register article should be attacking the NewScientist article. Because if they're attacking the UPenn study, which they are, they're making things up. Which as far as I can tell is sloppy work.
[User Picture]
From:blue_estro
Date:October 7th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
As far as I can tell, they only looked at people who actually got shot (hospital records) where (due that whole being shot thing) at least the attacking party had a gun.

What is not covered is where the gun dissuades other forms of assault. Nor is does it suggest that the gun bearing person was always the intended victim (ie: the originally attacked successfully defended thmeself).

Lastly, the study was done of gunshot wounds in Philadelphia, a city which make's Oakland' homicide rate seem small. That is like taking a look at victims in a car accident and authoritatively saying. "See cars are involved. People who aren't in cars are less likely to be injured in car related incidents." (I use hyperbole to make the point, clearly that analogy is excessive.)

Edited at 2009-10-07 05:53 pm (UTC)
From:machineiv
Date:October 7th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
(Link)
>Lastly, the study was done of gunshot wounds in Philidelphia, a city which make's Oakland' homicide rate seem small. That is like taking a look at victims in a car accident and authoritatively saying. "See cars are involved. People who aren't in cars are less likely to be injured in car related incidents." I use hyperbole to make the point, clearly that analogy is excessive.

First off, Oakland has a higher murder rate per capita than Philadelphia. Numerically, Philadelphia has more murders, but it also has a much higher population than Oakland. Philadelphia's murder rate is about 3.04 times the national average. Oakland's is 3.5.

"Cars are involved?" The analogy makes no sense. Of course guns are involved in shootings, shootings without guns would be silly. The fact is, having a gun does not mean you are less likely to be shot.

>As far as I can tell, they only looked at people who actually got shot (hospital records) where (due that whole being shot thing) at least the attacking party had a gun.

This is very true. I'm not sure what your point is.

>What is not covered is where the gun dissuades other forms of assault. Nor is does it suggest that the gun bearing person was always the intended victim (ie: the originally attacked successfully defended thmeself).

Again, I don't understand your point. We know that people carrying guns get shot more often than people not carrying guns. If guns so wonderfully prevent assaults, why is the opposite not the case?

I've seen exactly one two gun-related deaths in my lifetime.

One was outside Disneyland in Anaheim. A man was being carjacked at gunpoint. During the confrontation, the man robbed pulled a gun. The assailant shot him in the head, driving off.

The other was a close friend. Her father owned a gun. The house was being robbed late at night. The gun was turned on him and his wife. By the time my friend and I got upstairs, the two were dead and the robber fled, one gun richer.

Anecdotal evidence doesn't prove much, but it's very clear. Science supports the fact that homicide rates are dramatically lower in places with fewer firearms. We know that almost all firearms used in violent crimes in America enter the country legally.

We are not a nation of cowboys.

Show me situations where a gun deterred a crime, where a taser couldn't be used to similar if not better effect. They're not too common.

We pay for our "right to defend ourselves" with millions of innocent lives. Eventually, we might recognize that maybe those people didn't deserve to die so we could be make-pretend vigilantes.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:October 7th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
(Link)
We pay for our "right to defend ourselves" with millions of innocent lives. Eventually, we might recognize that maybe those people didn't deserve to die so we could be make-pretend vigilantes.

I completely agree. Despite the "Wild West" being (thankfully) long gone, the myth of rugged and heavily armed self-defense lingers. It's long been clear that the idea that widespread gun ownership will protect against dictatorship or similar problems is clearly nonsense, and it's nice to see the myth that carrying a gun protects you from harm is now being disproven.
From:machineiv
Date:October 7th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think it comes down to a deep-seeded machismo in our culture. We have a lot of people that think they're big, bad men and they'll protect everyone from the big, bad government.

It's really altogether silly. I've yet to see any valid argument that allowing guns serves to protect a people better than a myriad of alternatives.

We need education. Not just standard textbook education. Not gunowner education. We need to teach the youth how people work, how they interact and why desperate, frightened people resort to drastic and overwhelmingly ineffective responses.

If Europe can do it, we can do it. We're not there yet, but it's not out of our grasp.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:October 7th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
(Link)
We need education. Not just standard textbook education. Not gunowner education. We need to teach the youth how people work, how they interact and why desperate, frightened people resort to drastic and overwhelmingly ineffective responses.

Gods yes. If classes in conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques were mandatory middle or high school courses, I suspect that the US would soon be significantly less violent. Of course, I also wonder how many parents would object to this on various whacked-out grounds.
From:machineiv
Date:October 7th, 2009 07:25 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Clearly, we don't need conflict resolution. Everything America needs to know about conflict resolution, it can extrapolate from out-of-context bible passages.

But I agree wholeheartedly. I think it's essential for a culture like ours. When our children are learning how to deal with problems from Transformers 2, we've got to balance the scales.

If Texas can make biblical education mandatory, I don't see why a few progressive states couldn't get the ball rolling. Philly could use it. Los Angeles could use it. DC could definitely use it.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:October 7th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Lastly, the study was done of gunshot wounds in Philadelphia, a city which make's Oakland' homicide rate seem small. That is like taking a look at victims in a car accident and authoritatively saying. "See cars are involved.

Yes, but they looked at both people who carried guns and people who didn't in Philadelphia. The common factor in all cases where some got shot was obviously that the shooter had a gun. However, regardless of whether a city has a low or high homicide rate, finding that carrying a gun goes not lower the odds of getting shot and in fact increases them, is significant (assuming as this study does, other factors like socioeconomic status, age, sex, and ethnicity are all accounted for).
[User Picture]
From:cusm
Date:October 8th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
(Link)
What is not covered is where the gun dissuades other forms of assault.

Naturally. When you present statistics to support your political agenda, it doesn't help to also provide data supporting the contrary position.

It is interesting none the less. Only the conclusions I would draw are more that gun ownership should recommend better education as armed conflicts are likely to leave one party dead. That's why you learn to avoid them. The idea at all that gun ownership reduces your chances of being shot is missing the point as well. Given the rate if idiocy among humans I would think the contrary in support of the article's numbers. But this itself is not cause for restriction of weapons, as the benefit of a randomly armed populous remains as a deterrent for muggings and similar personal crime. Guns don't protect you from other guns, they protect you from muggers with knives and similar hand weapons.

I suspect if you want to see these numbers improve, requiring gun owners to master Go to a modest level of handicap would be quite effective :)
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:October 8th, 2009 01:38 am (UTC)
(Link)
as the benefit of a randomly armed populous remains as a deterrent for muggings and similar personal crime.

Except most other first world nations strongly limit gun ownership & most of these nations have rates of violent crime well below ours. Rather than arming people, a better idea would be to spend more money & effort on both better public education and an improved social safety net, since both are more likely to actually reduce violent crime.
[User Picture]
From:cusm
Date:October 8th, 2009 10:45 am (UTC)
(Link)
If by other first world you mean UK, any stats I've seen are quite the contrary regarding muggings and home invasions. UK has quite a bit of social problems as well to encourage the crime. And arming is not the issue so much as efforts spent towards disarming that folks get touchy about. I think we both agree on the importance of education as the ultimate solution here regardless though.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:October 7th, 2009 06:38 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Nowhere in the conclusion from UPenn does it state that carrying guns causes people to be shot. It does state that gun owners should rethink their possession. It doesn't say they should get rid of guns. What it's saying is, "If you have a gun, and think it'll protect you, you might think twice about that since our data shows that owning a gun doesn't necessarily protect you."

Well said, thank you.
From:machineiv
Date:October 7th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You're very welcome.

Being in Philly, this is a topic near and dear to me. It's one I've kept a pretty close eye on, and I think so far, all the criticism is really just centered around the way the study was framed. That article makes a couple of claims that don't have strong foundation in the study. But that's by no fault of the study.
[User Picture]
From:alephnul
Date:October 8th, 2009 08:30 am (UTC)
(Link)
How do you feel about the objection that the study may not have sufficiently controlled for gang membership or involvement in criminal activities? I know absolutely nothing about this study, but that seems like it would be a hard set of criteria to control for, and one that would seriously confound interpretation of the results.

People who are involved in extremely dangerous activities where everyone carries guns and murder is treated relatively both carry guns more, and get killed by guns more, than the majority of the population doesn't seem much like it says anything one way or the other about the relevance of carrying a gun to personal safety for most people.

Personally, I think the results of the study are probably true, that people who carry guns are more likely to get shot, because they think stupid things like that a gun will protect them from a mugger with a gun (yeah, draw on someone who has the drop on you, good idea!) or because they are more likely to get into fights because they think they are holding the trump card, forgetting that the other guy may be holding it too, or because they are just more likely to be violence loving people, but I'm not necessarily convinced that this study controlled adequately for a major confounding factor (not that they didn't try).

On the other hand, I don't know anything about this study. Knowing more about it, do you think they controlled adequately for the gangs and criminals issue?
From:machineiv
Date:October 8th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It really doesn't need to be controlled, as far as I'm concerned. From an objective standpoint, it really only determines that possessing a gun does not deter personal injury. Indeed, it likely escalates confrontations.

As I mentioned in my earlier response, my experience has been the same. I've seen such an escalation. That escalation was between what I would, at a glance, determine as average middle class white males.

There's another study, I'd have to look to find it since I read it in college, not on the internet, that scientifically showed a very strong relationship between firearm carrying and aggressiveness. It was a dramatic relationship in all avenues of the test, people who carried a gun were more confident, and more willing to take risks.

Back to my original point though, it might be chicken and egg. People likely to be shot might be the types that decide to carry guns. It might be that carrying guns causes the situation to escalate. Honestly and objectively, it doesn't really matter since the end result is the same.

I had an interesting talk with my wife about this yesterday. The conclusion I came up with is: There are a lot of people in the world I'd be comfortable knowing they owned guns. However, most of those people are reasonable and level-headed enough to know that gun ownership doesn't substantially increase their safety. Almost anyone that thinks a gun will protect them is someone who I don't trust carrying a gun.

> Go to Top
LiveJournal.com