[Writing to Don Kates] You asserted that handguns are involved in less than 50% of
criminal firearm injuries. You dismissed my calculation that the data
in your paper implied that the percentage was 90-97% as some sort of
trick. Could you please tell me what you consider the correct value
of this percentage to be?
Don B Kates, Jr. writes:
I answer: The correct value is determinable only from actual statistics. So
far as I know, no statistics are available on the percentage of injuries
involving handgun versus long gun crime. (Conceivably, the NCVS have such
data, but I am not aware of it. The Uniform Crime Reports do not report
Table 5.7 of "Point Blank" gives the fraction of NCVS measured
injuries inflicted with handguns (.021) and the fraction with other
guns (.004). This implies that about 85% (4/25) of criminal firearm
injuries are inflicted with handguns.
Schetky purported to provide a value and Smith & Falk provided a less
exact one. They both FABRICATED references supposedly supporting their
figures. That was my primary concern.
Schetky made no claims about criminal firearm injuries (but rather
about criminal firearm misuse). Smith & Falk's claim that handguns
are involved in the majority of criminal firearm injuries is supported
by the reference they cite: you state this gives an estimate of
handgun use in 70-75% of firearm homicides. I'm not aware of anyone
who believes that handgun wounds are on average more lethal than long
gun wounds, so it follows that handguns are used to inflict at least
70% of firearm injuries, which is certainly a majority.
I do not think "fabrication" is the correct characterization of what
Smith and Falk did.
On the other hand, you did not give any reference to support your
(false) counterclaim that handguns are NOT involved in the majority of
criminal firearm injuries, and now I found that your counterclaim was
not based on any facts at all.
I think, perhaps, that "fabrication" might the appropriate word to
describe your counterclaim.
As far as I can tell, you have completely ignored what I wrote
about the Sloan article. Is it your assertion that prior to 1977
Vancouver's gun laws were identical to those of Seattle?"
I answer: The Sloan study is dedicated to showing that severe control over
the possession of handguns greatly reduces homicide. Until 1977 Canadian
handgun control was little more severe than American. The 1977 law
classified handguns as "restricted weapon" and required for simple
possession that the owner have applied for and been issued a Restricted
Weapon Registration Certificate. See generally, the Kopel article "Canadian
Gun Control," 5 TEMPLE INT'L. & COMP. L. J. 1, 9-18 (1991). This is the
type of legislation the Sloan article addresses and exalts --- according not
just to us, but to Sloan (as we quoted) and other anti-gun public health
advocates whom we quoted describing the Sloan article (whom we also quoted).
As you admit, prior to 1977 Vancouver's gun laws were not identical to
those of Seattle. You consider those differences to be insignificant,
Sloan does not. You seem to believe that it is impossible for anyone
to honestly hold a different opinion from you on this issue.
Furthermore, I note that while Centerwall (whom you cite approvingly)
disagrees with Sloan on the efficacy of Canadian gun laws he appears
to agree with Sloan that there were significant differences in the gun
laws before the 1977 law, since he uses pre-1977 data in his
A number of other "public
health" students of firearms policy (whom we
also directly quote) also say that they take
Sloane et al to have been evaluating the effect
of the 1977 law. Indeed, how could they not
have been? The hypothesis is: the law has some
sort of effect on peoples' behavior and hence
on the statistics that reflect firearms
mortality. Is it now claimed that a rising
homicide rate and a more restrictive gun control
law are somehow consistent with the premise of
gun control laws?
The two references that you cite in your paper on the effect of the
1977 law on homicides (in footnote 144, Mundt and Mauser) both found
that the law was associated with a decline in the homicide rate.
If that is indeed the case,
one is bound to suspect that further discussion is
futile, as those who hate to think of firearms
in private hands would evidently then be in
possession of a theory so powerful that it is
substantiated by any possible evidence and is
consistent with every possible state of the world.
Theories that powerful are religious, not scientific.
Mundt and Mauser both felt that the decline was caused by other
factors. Does this imply that they are in possession of a religious
"gun control does not work" theory?