The CAP “Fact” Sheet on Weak Gun Laws is worth a laugh

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2021 Giffords Score Map

The Center for American Progress showed up in my inbox with urgent and dire news! “Weak” gun laws were making the murder more murdery!

Here’s the link.

But the thing about their “fact” sheet, they’re facts in only the most literal and non-contextual of interpretations. Let’s talk about it.

States that received an “F” grade based on the strength of their gun laws—according to the latest scorecard from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence—saw the highest homicide rates:1

Ah, yes. Giffords should be relied upon as an unbiased source for legal standings and effectiveness. That’s why Chipman’s association with them tanked his nomination to the ATF in a congress held by the Democrats with a sitting Democrat President. We should absolutely be using their scale.

What follows is the typical oversimplified and out of context analysis blaming the fact that a place doesn’t have a magazine capacity ban for it’s marginally higher homicide rates (always expressed in percentages to confuse the issue further).

But let me take a giant steaming dump in their logic train here.

The two states with the lowest homicide mortality rate in 2020 were New Hampshire and Vermont, per the CDC. What were their Giffords grades? Must be A’s, right?

Wrong.

Vermont is at a C- and New Hampshire, with the lowest homicide mortality rate in the nation for 2020… is an F.

But surely that must be because they’re small states, right? Maybe, but CAP didn’t saying anything about accounting for size. They just start throwing phrases around like “associated with” and “F grades saw a 61% higher homicide rate that A grades”

Okay, let’s keeping going down the list.

Maine. 3rd lowest homicide rate. F from Giffords.

Idaho. 4th. F.

Massachusetts. 5th. A-.

Utah. 6th. F.

Rhode Island. 7th. B.

So of the seven states with the lowest homicide mortality rates in the nation, only one has an A rating on their gun laws, an A-, and it is behind three F rated states. Of the 10 lowest homicide mortality rates, only two A- states, 6 F states.

Weird.

Almost like these grades don’t mean anything.

So it’s pretty clear the CAP is just picking two states that give them the ratio they want and going with it.

If we pick the top 5 states for homicide rate in the nation for 2020, we get a all F grades. Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. But if we expand that to top 10 we add a C rating, New Mexico, and two A- ratings, Maryland and Illinois.

We have 6 F’s and only two A- ratings in the top 20% of states, and 7 F’s and again two A- ratings in the bottom 20%.

California is ranked highest by Giffords, an A, 1st, strongest gun laws. But the CDC puts them 20th in homicide rate and number one it total homicides.

“But, Keith! Their population..”

Ah, so their population matters? So too should the regional populations, cultures, economic statuses, criminal recidivism rates, and any number of other factors beyond the Giffords rating of their gun laws.

The whole CAP article is the old take a metric and make it scary, but without being factually incorrect. If you take enough context away you can correlate nearly anything to anything else.

Yes, the highest murder rate state, Mississippi, has an F rating. The unmentioned is that the lowest murder rate state, New Hampshire, also has an F rating. So it obviously isn’t the F rating.

Facts.