New York Times Op-Ed Says Gun Control Will Reduce Suicides; Meanwhile, In Japan…

Let's run through some statistics. (Hint -- the root cause isn't access to guns.)

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Let’s run through some statistics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2011, there were 41,149 suicide deaths in America. More than half, 21,175, were committed with a gun.

The New York Times is the latest publication to make the case for gun control my claiming it would reduce suicide rates. The Editorial Board writes:

State licensing laws for gun ownership can help by delaying access to guns. Even a short delay can be effective, experts say, because most people attempt suicide within an hour of their decision to end their lives. A study published this year by four professors at Johns Hopkins University found that suicide rates fell in Connecticut after that state passed a law in 1995 requiring licensing. The study also found that the suicide rate increased in Missouri after it repealed a similar law in 2007.

Because correlation is totes causation, or something.

Except when they aren’t. You know, the New York Time Editorial Board left part of the title off the John Hopkins study. The full title is “Bloomberg’s Center for Gun Policy at Johns Hopkins University.”

Probably totally impartial, right? But, you say, logic dictates that the source of data is irrelevant. What matters is, is the data factual?

Good point. You probably won’t be upset if it’s pointed out that back in September, the NRA wrote, “Requiring that a person obtain a permit before acquiring a handgun is one of anti-gun activists’ favorite restrictions, particularly if the authorities that control the permits are allowed to arbitrarily refuse them to legally eligible applicants.”

It’s almost as if they’ve heard this all before.

The also point out something important about the “study” cited by the Times:

Bloomberg’s researchers compared suicide trends before and after Connecticut increased its purchase permit requirement in 1995, and before and after Missouri eliminated its requirement in 2007. The researchers ran the numbers, for those states and the other 48, two ways. When using a “synthetic” model – which is not the preferred approach when studying differences among the states  – the researchers not surprisingly concluded that purchase permit laws reduce suicide.  Synthetic, in this case and as you might expect, means created from computer simulation. 

However, when they ran the numbers according to traditional methodology based on actual data from the states, they admitted, Connecticut’s permit law had “no association with overall suicide rates” and “[t]he repeal of Missouri’s [purchase permit] law was not associated with changes in any of the suicide measures.”  

Key words? “they admitted.”

The New York Times totally ignored this part of the study, which is key to their premise. That’s journalistic malpractice and a prime example of why the media isn’t trusted anymore.

But let’s consider the overall premise for a second. If half of all suicides are by firearms, doesn’t it follow that suicides would be lower if it were more difficult to get a gun?

Actually, it doesn’t. The Atlantic praises Japan for virtually eliminating shooting deaths. How?

“In part by forbidding almost all forms of firearm ownership, the country has as few as two gun-related homicides a year.”


The suicide rate for Japan is roughly 60 percent higher than the global average, with 18.5 people out of every 100,000 committing suicide in 2012, according to a World Health Organization report released Thursday.

The most common suicide methods globally were poisoning by pesticide, hanging and firearms. The report noted the prevalence of suicides by gas poisoning in Japan.

The New York Times Editorial Board has a political agenda, not a journalistic agenda. They will cherry pick data and use tired, emotion base arguments to advocate a tired, emotion based solution to gun violence, rather than look at the root causes of gun violence in America.

Hint — the root cause isn’t access to guns. Millions of Americans have access to guns every day and don’t shoot anyone.

And thousands of people kill themselves each year without using a gun.

Photo Credit: John Michael Hughes/123rf


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