Three Kinds of Gun Deaths

second amendment

What the numbers tell us about firearm legislation

In the wake of the terrible mass murder at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, there is a great deal of solemn intoning that Something Must Be Done.

Click to view – Firearm Deaths by State and Motive

As you listen to the discussion, it’s important to remember that there are different kinds of gun deaths and with one category, firearm laws appear to have a big effect on reducing the number of fatalities.  On the other category, the relationship is not so clear.

But back to the rhetoric.
Some politicians and experts are looking for stronger gun control laws to limit access to deadly weapons and others want increased emphasis on psychological screening, with the notion that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  A few gun advocates believe the answer is MORE guns, so that any threat is met with a hail of  gunfire from armed bystanders or guards before innocent victims are harmed.  (I’m reminded of the recent shootout in New York City where nine bystanders were injured, all by police gunfire.)

I analyzed statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), focusing on the deaths from firearms during for the period of 2009-1999 (the most recent available).  I looked at the differences between firearm deaths between different states and metro areas, comparing the number of deaths with each state’s gun control legislation as scored by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

I’ve published all the data for the states and the 379 major metro areas and made it available in a spreadsheet for your download and further analysis.

Continue reading “Three Kinds of Gun Deaths”

I’m Sorry

Forbes has released a new slideshow, “America’s 20 Dirtiest Cities“, which is based mostly on data readily available on our Sperling’s BestPlaces website (www.bestplaces.net).

The Forbes list and the story is pretty straightforward; a callout of the large U.S. metro areas with the worst scores for air and water quality, plus measures of toxic releases and Superfund sites.

And It’s a fairly accurate list.  All the places named have issues, but I’ve got to say that I’m not proud of being associated with stories like this.

Stories like this focus on the negative, and have titles guaranteed to be irresistable to the casual web browser – America’s Dirtiest Cities, Miserable Cities, Worst Cities to Live, Depressing Cities, Dangerous Cities, Dying Cities, Drunkest Cities, Fattest Cities, Worst Schools, and Dumbest Cities.

Continue reading “I’m Sorry”

Factual Errors in Bloom’s Attack on Iowa

I was reminded that I promised to do a follow-up to my blog post about Stephen Bloom’s article in The Atlantic, which lambasted his home state of Iowa, its residents and its way of life.  If it sounds like I’m exaggerating, read the original article here.

Mr. Bloom justifies his criticism variously as “unspeakable truths,” “opinions,” and “satire and parody.” If he seems confused about the focus of his piece, it has gotten him a lot of attention (with over 2,000 comments on the magazine’s web site, and even an interview on NBC’s Rock Center) which is perhaps what he wanted all along.  Tellingly, he is quite vocal about the responses to his article, citing a death threat, anti-Semitism, and being forced into “hiding in an undisclosed location.”

Continue reading “Factual Errors in Bloom’s Attack on Iowa”

“Coming Apart” Book Review

the cover of the book entitled "coming apart"

“Coming Apart – The State of White America 1960-2010″ by Charles Murray  focuses on the increasing divergence of upper and lower classes in the United States.  Besides the economic inequality, the two classes are actually becoming different cultures.

There, I just summarized the first half of the book, and saved you untold hours of wading through demographic minutia.  And his conclusion makes sense, but what’s the point?

In the second half we find out, when the author veers from analysis to opinion presented as fact, such as:

1)      There is “no doubt” that America could not succeed without the “founding virtues” of “industriousness, honesty, marriage, religiosity.”

and

2)      “The answer is that there are just four” (domains of happiness), “family, vocation, community, and faith.”

In the last chapter (“Alternative Futures”), we finally get to some meaty discussions such as “the American Project vs. the European Model”.  Basically, the author feels that the Europe cripples its population by robbing them of self-respect and self-actualization.

Mr. Murray’s ultimate hope is that there will be a “Civic Great Awakening” in the response to the “collapse of the moral pillars of the welfare state” and leading the change will be the “new upper class”.

In the last few paragraphs, Mr. Murray invokes the popular concept of American Exceptionalism.

“Historically, Americans have been different as a people, even peculiar, and everyone around the world has recognized it. I am thinking of qualities such as American industriousness and neighborliness discussed in earlier chapters, but also American optimism even when there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for it, our striking lack of class envy, and the assumption by most Americans that they are in in control of their own destinies. Finally, there is the most lovable of exceptional American qualities: our tradition of insisting that we are part of the middle class, even if we aren’t, and of interacting with our fellow citizens as if we were all middle class.”

Really, is he serious? Continue reading ““Coming Apart” Book Review”

Charity in America – Surprising Insights

Charitable Giving in the United States
Who tops our “Shame Score”?

A report was released today by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, titled “How America Gives.”  The report maps charitable giving by state, city and neighborhood, by analyzing IRS personal income tax data at the zip code level.  Using the amount of charitable deductions, The Chronicle’s report showed which places gave the greatest (and least) portion of their income to charity.  (Actually, the report would be more accurately named “Where America Gives,” not “How.”)

I did a similar analysis about a year ago, using the same data, and I’m pleased to see we reached the same conclusions.  To summarize it simply, the poor give a greater percent of their income to charity than the wealthy, and people are more likely give more in states that vote Republican and are strongly religious.

The states with the highest percentage of claimed charitable contributions are Utah, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina.  The least generous states are New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

I must admit, this is not what I had expected to find.

Continue reading “Charity in America – Surprising Insights”

“Millionaire Flight” theory – Don’t fall for it

a world war one or two plane crashes

There have been a number of news stories over the last two years about how the wealthy are fleeing states which have increased taxes on the highest tax brackets.

I’ll show you this line of thinking is not borne out by the facts, and is irrational to boot.

Here’s an example; a new story from the Wall Street Journal  – titled “Millionaires Fleeing Taxes” (August 7, 2012).

The description of the video interview with the reporter (Arden Dale) states “When states raise taxes millionaires move out.”  And the interviewer starts the piece by declaring, “Millionaires are fleeing from taxes!”

Wow, that sounds serious, and certainly very definitive.  Let’s learn more.

Interviewer – “So tell us, where are the millionaires going?”

Ms. Dale – “People don’t want to be taxed… but when we looked the actual numbers, the actual studies of whether ‘Millionaire Flight’ occurs, what we found was that there is no really great statistical data that shows that it does.” (Note: while this is being said, a banner on the screen reads “Millionaires moving to avoid taxes.”)

Continue reading ““Millionaire Flight” theory – Don’t fall for it”