I don’t want to make a habit of this but it’s too tempting not to comment on another Jeff Jacoby column in the Boston Globe, Wednesday’s A safer society with guns: statistics make a compelling case for gun ownership. Statistics! It doesn’t get any more certain than statistics.
Jacoby takes on the outcry by some citizens of Colorado after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that the University of Colorado campus gun ban violated the state’s law that entitles residents to carry concealed weapons. The columnist points out that since the legislation passed in 2003 Colorado State has obeyed that law. Voilà! According to a Cato Institute study cited by Jacoby, since the two campuses went on divergent paths, crime at UC has risen 35%, while crime at Colorado State has dropped sixty percent.
Not only that, Jacoby reports, since the 2008 Supreme Court decision striking down a gun law ban in Washington, D.C., murder has dropped from 186 in 2008 to 108 in 2011.
By now those Jacoby previously exposed as my left-leaning colleagues may be thinking, “wait, there is something wrong here.” No fear, Jacoby has you covered: “To be sure, correlation doesn’t prove causation.”
(Digression: I love Boston Globe columns. I go back to George Frazier and duende. So when I read a column like “A safer society”, and find even one accurate sentence, my sense of reverence for columnists is restored).
Not being terribly advanced at statistics, after reading the familiar caution that correlation does not equal causation I recalled a posting on the door of my colleague Professor Erin O’Brien, who is terribly advanced at statistics. (To give away a secret, posting cartoons and such on our office doors is one way we lefty professors conspire to indoctrinate America’s trusting youth into Obama’s socialist plot. For more, see Jeff Jacoby Potshots College Profs).
So here is the gist of the posting, which is of a discovery by Professor Joe Soss: “Backstreet Boys Reduce Welfare Dependency!”
It’s true. And trust me, the posting has a chart and everything. Here’s the explanation:
“[W]elfare dependence declined steadily during the Backstreet Boys era. After the 1995 release of their self-titled debut album, welfare usage went down, work participation went up, and life got better for low-income Americans of all ages. The Backstreet Boys were almost certainly the crucial factor: after the band’s 2001 release of its final album, Black & Blue, welfare caseloads and work participation rates stagnated, and the poverty rate began to creep upward again.”
Also according to Jacoby, the Cato authors assembled more than 5,000 news stories across the country from 2003-2011 that show instances of citizens defending themselves against heinous crimes with guns. No word on how many news stories might have been recorded of the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and accompanying murder of six others, or the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which 32 people were killed and 25 wounded before the gunman committee suicide. (Jacoby’s response of course would be, if only some of those victims or bystanders had been packing heat. That doesn’t answer the questionable methodology he cites, or the unknowable possibility that the results would be similar, or even worse).
We could go into the data about how suicide attempts or crimes of passion are affected by the availability of a gun (hint: lots more effective); but that would drag us further into statistics, which involves a lot of math and as we all know, math is hard. So let’s just skip it. Jacoby does.