How the Violence Policy Center deceives with numbers

DanLucas.serendipityThumb How the Violence Policy Center deceives with numbers

by Dan Lucas

The anti-gun organization, the Violence Policy Center (VPC), produced an “analysis” with the headline-grabbing title “Gun Deaths Outpace Motor Vehicle Deaths in 10 States in 2009.” Oregon was listed as one of the 10 states, and the VPC report was picked up by news outlets like the Huffington Post back in May 2012. That VPC talking point has been picked up again this month by USA Today and others in the wake of the tragic murders at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

The VPC report states that for 2009, Oregon had 417 gun deaths1 and 394 motor vehicle deaths.

That is a horribly deceptive presentation of data.

Here’s what a detailed look at the 2009 deaths in Oregon reveals

  • The 413 gun deaths2 in Oregon in 2009 were:
    • 341 gun suicides
    • 55 gun murders
    • 7 gun deaths by the police or military
    • 5 deaths caused by gun accidents
    • 5 undetermined
  • In 2009, there were 1,577 accidental deaths in Oregon.
    • 433 were transportation-related
    • 5 were gun-related
  • There were twice as many deaths caused by bike accidents as by gun accidents in Oregon in 2009. There were 10 deaths caused by bike accidents, and 5 deaths caused by gun accidents.

The 2009 Oregon transportation-related deaths break out like this:

2009 Oregon Transportation Deaths table1 How the Violence Policy Center deceives with numbers

Oregon Vital Statistics Annual Report 2009 Vol. 2 pg 6 18 How the Violence Policy Center deceives with numbers

Oregon Vital Statistics Annual Report 2009 Vol. 2 (pg 6-18)

 

To come up with their deceptive, headline-grabbing title “Gun Deaths Outpace Motor Vehicle Deaths in 10 States in 2009,” the Violence Policy Center “analysis” had to compare the number of Oregon deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents to the combined number of deaths caused by gun accidents, gun suicides, gun murders, gun deaths by the police or military and undetermined.

On the number of suicides, I noted in an earlier article,

Regarding the use of guns in suicides in Oregon – there does not appear to be a correlation between gun control and suicide rates. Sadly, people wishing to commit suicide appear to change the means when another is restricted. For example, according to the World Health Organization’s data, Japan has a much higher rate of suicide than the United States. In 2011, Japan had the 7th highest suicide rate in the world, and the U.S. was number 38. A 1999 New York Times article on the high rate of suicide in Japan noted “Because gun ownership is severely restricted in Japan, many Japanese resort to throwing themselves in front of trains, hanging themselves, jumping off cliffs or overdosing, the police say.”

UPDATE: Additionally, even with much stricter gun laws in Canada and the draconian gun laws in the UK, both those countries have the same rate of suicides as the U.S. – 12 per 100K.  Source: WHO data via Wikipedia (July 2014)

A note on sources:

1The Violence Policy Center source: WISQARS database, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

2My source is the: State of Oregon – Oregon Health Authority – Public Health Division – Oregon Vital Statistics Annual Report 2009 Vol. 2

 To read more from Dan, visit www.dan-lucas.com

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Posted by at 01:03 | Posted in 2nd Amendment, Gun Control | 20 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • http://www.facebook.com/burton.keeble Burton Keeble

    Good one, Dan.

  • Ballistic45

    Typical skewing of facts to support their agenda… Liberals always do it.. From Spotted Owl bull shit, Fairy Shrimp, Global warming, they always get caught lying.. They always site bogus Data then before the real investigators have time to find the truth they stampede everyone to support changing laws to deal with the bogus manufactured Crisis… That is what is happening again right now with gun control…. And some of us keep buying their Crap…

    • 3H

      Liberals always do it

      Yes,liberals ALWAYS do it. And poor conservatives, wedded only to facts, simply trying to engage in rational debate.

      Lying liberals and truthful conservatives; the political world really is that simple.

      You’re a hoot.

      One small point. I thought it was scientists who were warning us about global warming. Are you saying all scientists are liberals? That science is just another liberal ploy to confuse the weak minded?

      • Ballistic45

        No just the ones who skew their data to reflect the goals of those who pay their salaries and project cost… Remember, Science also says that in truth the world is entering a cooling period.. Also that the Sun has far more to do with global climate than man could… It’s not my fault those scientist happen to be skewing data to satisfy liberal check writers…
        No Both Parties have lied, bribed, intimidated the public… The trouble comes when the Free Press takes sides and fails to sort out the lies from facts no matter which side is promoting it.. It is even worse when the Free Press reduces itself to a Propaganda tool for the liars no matter if it is Dems or Republicans.. Only the Taxpayer is hurt and wasted money on both Government and Free Press support, everyone is Lying to the public. Some more than others….

        • 3H

          Ahhh.. then your original statement about liberals should be read as “liberals and conservatives”… Which, politically speaking, puts us on an even playing field.

          Now, I would argue, as in the case of global warming, that politics, more than science, are fueling the reactions of conservatives. They don’t like the implications of human made global warming, so they find a few naysayers, and then attack the other side for being politically motivated which is just funny because it is clearly a case of projection.

          • Ballistic45

            Just one good volcanic eruption will undo several times over every effort man has made to become “eco Friendly” JUST ONE good Blast and we have sacrificed jobs, cost of living increases, lost dreams.. For WHAT? And that’s IF man is that big a player in Global Climate! Ever hear of cost / risk assessment? So far Man has not proved Man as the deciding factor in climate, or even his percentage of influence on our Climate… Compare instances of Conservatives Alarming everyone with BREAKING doom and gloom scenarios with JUST reviled data that PROVES the need to make laws to restrict RIGHTS and FREEDOM of Choice and to do it RIGHT NOW or else…. Yeah, compare that list to that of Liberals….

          • crabman34

            Where on earth are you getting this stuff? Ever heard of citations? What is a “good” volcanic eruption? How big precisely do you mean? Or is this just Rush Limbaugh conspiracy-theory drivel?

            Cost-Benefit analyses, if that’s what you mean by “cost/risk assessment” (or maybe you mean risk assessment? I don’t know), have been done for climate change. They aren’t all that accurate, though, and have been used to support both sides – if you that’s what you want to call it; I’d call it realists vs. deniers but that’s me – but CBAs have also been pretty thoroughly challenged given what we know and expect. See, for example: http://scholar.harvard.edu/weitzman/files/REStatFINAL.pdf

            I know you won’t read that, but it is worth a try (also it’s Harvard, so they are elitists who probably lied and made up data to get grants to support their lavish lifestyles). See, what is troubling about your opinions, Ballistic, is that you seem to glom on to these “theories” you read somewhere or hear somewhere, without giving critical thought to the basis for them. And then you post things about “one good volcano” and think it’s cute to suggest that people haven’t heard of cost benefit or risk assessment. Treating others like they are stupid never got anyone anywhere.

            I’ve studied climate change for a long time, over 15 years. I understand the science, and the economics. I’ve taken time to learn the law, from the constitution to the Endangered Species Act. That’s why I challenged you about Fairy Shrimp and Spotted Owls and climate change earlier. But you didn’t respond, because you work in soundbites, and you don’t care if your opinions are supported, only how strongly you feel them.

          • Ballistic45

            If any other occupation made as many errors as weathermen and so called Climatologist they would be fired…

            On the volcano’s, how about a Mt. St. Helens that reaches into the upper atmosphere.

            While claims were made of falling Salmon runs on the Columbia River and Snake rivers we wondered at the news about Oregon Hatchery fish being clubbed to death.. Mixed reports of not wanting them to drive up fish counts, then the differences in DNA between hatchery and wild salmon.. An Oregon District Court ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) could not legally distinguish between hatchery salmon and wild salmon in determining whether a given population of salmon was threatened under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”)….
            The Oregon District Court’s decision in Alsea Valley Alliance v. Donald L. Evans, USDC Or., Case No. 99-6265-HO, invalidated NMFS’ listing decision for the Oregon coast coho salmon, but it raises questions about all salmon and steelhead listings under the ESA where wild fish populations exist side-by-side with genetically indistinguishable hatchery fish…

            Eco-Freaks killed the Oregon Timber Industry under the Guise of endangering the Spotted Owl.. Turns out it wasn’t the logging Industry so much but the Encroaching Barred Owl that to this day is raising havoc with the spotted owl population.. Now moves are being made to kill the Barred Owl to protect the smaller Spotted Owl… Oooops guess those logging families didn’t need a job anyway…

            Peoples enjoyment of private property rights being abused without sound reason, here is just one abuse:
            OTAY MESA PROPERTY, L.P., ET AL., V. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, No. 10-5204, 646 F.3d 914; 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 14998 (D.C. Cir., July 22, 2011).
            BACKGROUND: In 1997, The Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) listed San Diego fairy shrimp as an endangered species. In 2007, FWS designated 143 acres of the owners’ property as critical habitat for the species based on a single sighting of four of the ant-sized fairy shrimp in a tire rut on a dirt road within the confines of the owners’ property in 2001. Although six more surveys of the property occurred during the same year, there were no other sightings of the fairy shrimp. In 2008, plaintiffs’ challenged the designation of their property as critical habitat but the District Court granted summary judgment to FWS; however, the court stated that FWS’s support for its conclusion as “distinctly thin.” While fairy shrimp live for only about 30 days, they can leave behind buried eggs that may not hatch for months or even years. Stating that the FWS did not reasonably explain how that one, isolated observation demonstrates that the plaintiffs’ property was “occupied” by the San Diego fairy shrimp in 1997, which is the relevant statutory date, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judge Kavanaugh reversed and remanded the district court decision, directing the district court to vacate the designation of the owners’ property as critical habitat for San Diego fairy shrimp, and remand the matter to FWS. Stating that the current record is simply too thin to justify FWS’s designation.. How many land owners have been made criminals for merely levelling their land?

            Environmentalist and Environmentalism, Environmentalism is great when it is based on facts…… Some environmentalist are mostly wannabee scientist who spew the latest mantra that is popular in
            the movement and they are referred to as “Eco-Freaks”
            and to tell the truth they usually cause way more harm than good. Good Real Scientific Study has shown time and again that Eco-Freak claims are often false… And I will give you just one example; Eco-Freaks claimed that coal fired generation plants are environmentally friendly
            compared to nuclear plants. And they have managed
            to stop all construction of nuclear power plants in this country.
            The truth is coal fired plants put out far more radiation from its ash piles than a Nuclear plant would ever be allowed to escape.. And no matter how good the scrubbers are on a coal fired plant, it still adds so called greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as do other fossil fuel plants. No matter what Eco-Freaks claim, you cannot burn fossil fuels and have no pollution, sorry. Each fossil fuel plant built spews tons of CO2 into our atmosphere each year, and we have built hundreds of them…. Now Eco-Freaks want to blame us for Green house gases, wanting to limit our emission foot print while downplaying what they have done in building massive “CO2 generators” called fossil fuel electrical generation plants that was sold to us as a viable alternative to Nuclear power generation… And what do we do with the tons and tons of ash from the coal fired plants that includes radioactive materials–mainly, uranium and thorium and others? Eco-Freaks didn’t think about that I guess when they were pushing for Coal fire generation and demonizing Nuclear power generation…. The ash is not even treated as Nuclear waste even though concentrated radioactive elements are present…. Now, Obama wants to attack Coal fired plants and some even admit Nuclear Power may very well be an alternative.. WHAT?

          • crabman34

            I appreciate your efforts at explaining.

            On volcanoes, do you have a citation supporting your claim that one good St Helens style eruption would do what you say? Is this just guesswork?

            On the Alsea case. It’s cute that you can cite cases, but there have been a half dozen subsequent cases on the hatchery vs. wild salmon issue. The district court decision you cite has since been overruled by the 9th circuit, allowing the agencies to again differentiate between hatchery and wild fish as far as the ESA is concerned.

            On spotted owls. If the old growth critical habitat wasn’t protected, we wouldn’t be talking about barred owls now. It’s not one or the other. Spotted owls are endangered, USFWS made a call to protect their habitat, another threat has since emerged. It is mere conjecture to state that the barred owls were the problem all along, no scientific studies have show that. Without habitat, inter-species threats are meaningless.

            Calling everyone who disagrees with you a freak, wannabe, or follower is a pretty obvious indicator that your positions aren’t strong or supported by good evidence.

            I don’t get where you figure that environmentalists are solely responsible for the shift to coal fired plants. After Chernobyl and 3 MIle Island, everyone was pretty freaked out about nuclear. Many still are. “Eco-freaks” didn’t push coal plants any more than others. And no one made the claim that coal is more environmentally friendly than nuclear. Most made the argument that the risks of nuclear accidents outweigh the pollution risks of coal. Many environmentalists opposed coal plants and continue to do so today. Many are worried about coal ash. You know who pushes coal development and power plants? Politicians from coal-rich states whose pockets are filled with coal industry money. But they aren’t wrong because most of them are Republicans, right?

            The energy issue is complicated, as you seem to be aware. But here’s the rub, you call people who disagree with you “Freaks” and claim that their positions are completely fabricated and like to insinuate they are complete morons. What do you propose for an energy solution? You seem to acknowledge climate change and the dangers of coal ash and nuclear power. I’d argue that climate change is the biggest risk and that we need to move away from coal and oil. If smaller safer nuclear is an option, I’m willing to discuss that. That doesn’t mean I’m an idiot, it means I’m open-minded and willing to re-evaluate based on new information. Also I wasn’t really paying attention when the nuclear conversation was going on in the 70s and 80s, I was a kid.

            Remember, things change. Republicans used to be for gun control before they were against it. They were also for the ESA before they were against it. Environmentalists may very well have, along with pretty much the entire world, over-reacted on nuclear power after several high profile and very dangerous accidents.

            “Good Real Scientific Study” (whatever that means) has not proven environmentalists claims wrong time and again. I’m not even sure that your example of coal-fired plants proves that. What good science are you referring to? Your other examples aren’t based on science either, just on anecdote and conjecture.

          • crabman34

            I had to go read the Otay Mesa case before I could respond to you on that one, but good on you for block-quoting straight from the internet and pretending it was your words. I still don’t see how the Fairy Shrimp case proves your point that land owners are being made criminals or that there is no “sound reason” behind agency decision-making. (Sound reason isn’t a legal standard, btw)

            In the Otay Mesa case, yes the DC Circuit said that the sighting of a few shrimp in a tire rut was insufficient to establish occupancy for purposes of the ESA. But the DC Circuit also didn’t allow other evidence of adults in a nearby pond because that evidence wasn’t relied upon by the FWS in their original listing (nuance, I’m not griping, just pointing out that this decision wasn’t entirely about a bad designation so much as bad work supporting that designation on the part of FWS). In essence, FWS said “If you see a few adult fairy shrimp in water on a piece of land, even just once, it is a fair assumption that because their eggs can lay dormant for months or years, that there will continue to be fairy shrimp on that land and you can establish occupancy.” The court said “No, that is not enough information to base your decision on, even though you get a lot of discretion to make your decisions. Go back and redo it, this time with better evidence.” This is a good example of how the interplay between the Legislative branch (writing the laws), the Executive branch (via agencies implementing the laws and using their legislative and judicially recognized discretion), and the Judicial branch (reigning in the other branches and deciding issues of legal interoperation) should work. That’s how it was designed and how it should play out. It is not an example of a government conspiracy to “abuse private property rights without sound reason.”

            See, my biggest issue with you Ballistic is that you take a case like Otay Mesa and use it to support wildly paranoid theories that the government is out to get you and fellow landowners. FWS was not out to “get” the landowners when they made the Fairy Shrimp designation. They thought that a single sighting of an endangered species (remember, it is endangered, meaning not very plentiful) was sufficient to establish occupancy under the Act. That is their job. Congress gave them that discretion when they wrote and passed the ESA (signed by Nixon, I’ll remind you again). Congress could have said that occupancy means at least two sightings or even ten, but they didn’t. So it was up to FWS discretion to decide what that meant, and in this case they thought one sighting was enough. The DC Circuit says they are wrong, so now FWS is bound to that decision. This should be a good thing in your eyes, our government and legal system doing what it is supposed to, protecting landowners when the agencies get it wrong. No one is perfect, and certainly not agencies.

            But you take this and run with it and claim that “EcoFreaks” want to ruin your way of life, destroy capitalism, make landowners criminals, take away your guns, establish sharia law, etc… And that said EcoFreaks are universally, without exception, wrong about science, ecology, economics, and law. . Every single time (or rather every time you disagree with them, which seems to be 95% of the time). Why on earth would you think that? The evidence doesn’t establish it, even the stuff you’ve copied and pasted here. If anyone is crazy, I’d have to vote for you, man.

      • Ballistic45

        Shall we delve into the lies that cost thousands of jobs in the Oregon Timber Industry in the Spotted Owl BS.. Or how about the California Ferry Shrimp crap in mud holes… Or the MTBE gas additive BS that turned out to be a Poison to humans.. The Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead BS.. Wanna go on? And the real corker is that none of the laws these Liberals produced with skewed facts have been repealed, no apology from the left for pushing thru laws and harm to others based on what turned out to be bogus information… I stick by my premise “They always site bogus Data then before the real investigators have time
        to find the truth they stampede everyone to support changing laws”

        • crabman34

          Actually, yes, let’s go on. Please articulate for us how the following are “BS” according to you:

          Climate change

          Spotted Owl listing under the ESA

          Fairy Shrimp listing under the ESA

          The carcinogenicity of MTBE

          The salmon and steelhead listings under the ESA

          And for the record, the Endangered Species Act was passed by Republicans and Democrats and signed by Nixon. Which liberals were responsible for banning MTBE and suing the oil industry for contaminating groundwater exactly?

          This just boils down to your distaste for environmental protection and regulation to accomplish it. You assuring us that they are all BS does nothing to prove a point, it just makes you sound hysterical.

          • valley person

            Yeah, as an ecologist I was wondering the same thing. Where exactly is the BS in listing the spotted owl, fairy shrimp (we have versions in southern Oregon by the way) and multiple salmon stocks as threatened or endangered? Or are those dams and clearcuts and lost wetlands a figment of the liberal imagination?

        • 3H

          Without actually agreeing with any of your points, so what? Are you in fact saying that liberals lie and conservatives don’t? Which, if you had paid attention, was the major thrust of my comment. I might even be inclined to wonder if you’re passing over that isn’t a form of a lie itself.

          Who, by the way, are the “real investigators”? Or those people who agree with you?

  • zanzara2041

    It is insanity to attack innocent human beings and their rights when something bad happens. Attacking innocent human beings is what was done at Sandy Hook by an insane mind.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    I think the bottom line here is that for most adults over 40, they are aware of the surprising change in gun attitudes over the last 20 years. Massively increased concealed carry, accompanied by higher gun ownership has lead to none of the horrendous things we were warned about by the Brady Bunch.

    There has not been the outbreak of fender benders turning into mid street shoot outs. It simply didn’t happen.

    Therefore I think most people understand to take any claims by and 2nd amendment groups with a big grain of salt.

    Most people likely do not feel the presence of an AR15 in the house would turn them into a mass murderer, therefore why the concern of them having one? Most understand crime is at lits lowest rate since the 60’s, and while gun ownership and increased carry can not be said to have caused that, what can be certain is it did not lead to the free fire zones the Brady Bunch predicted.

    It’s time for the anti second amendment crowd to admit a few thing’s. The first being they were simply wrong that increased carry would have horrendous consequences. The fact is, they have been wrong about many things. Will they admit it? Nope, Liberals are absolutly incapable of ever admitting, in a straightforward fashion, when they have been wrong.

    • valley person

      Well, nor is the boogyman likely to break into your house, take your stuff and shoot you. Nor are the urban hordes headed your way. Not is our government likely to turn into a Fascist dictatorship and seize your weapons. Yet the NRA and gun industry is constantly warning you about these possibilities to get you to sign up and buy their stuff.

      Most people, by the way, do not feel they need the presence of an AR 15 in the house.

  • valley person

    Stating a fact, number of gun deaths vs. deaths in car collisions, is just that. Apples to apples.

    The question is so what? When faced with high death rates in car collisions, society took a number of steps, like cracking down on drunk drivers, requiring seat belts, requiring air bags, etc. Every step traded a certain amount of freedom for improved safety.

    When it comes to gun deaths, it seems we can’t even have a conversation about possible steps to reduce the carnage,because ANY solution involves some loss of freedom,real or imagined.

  • silly

    How are your numbers more accurate and the VPC numbers less so? Seems you are both emphasizing the story you want to tell. I’d say that your emphasis on only 5 gun accidental deaths is a lot more limited telling of the facts than saying there were ~400 motor vehicle deaths. You seem to be saying that the 55 murders by gun are not a problem!

    If your premise was to exclude suicide from the list of gun deaths then you would maybe have a good point to make. But to emphasize the number 5 is really skewing it.

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