Taking a different look at shooting statistics

I n response to Robin Nowicki’s recent letter to the editor urging support for a U.S House of Representatives gun control bill, I want to challenge her facts and rhetoric.

She writes, “… Up to 40 percent of guns are sold without any ID requirement.”

FactCheck.org notes that this is a “misleading talking point.” They write, “…That figure is based on an analysis of a nearly two-decade-old survey of less than 300 people that essentially asked participants whether they thought the guns they had acquired — and not necessarily purchased — came from a federally licensed dealer. And one of the authors of the report often cited as a source for the claim, Philip Cook of Duke University, told our friends at Politifact.com that he has ‘no idea’ whether the ‘very old number’ applies today or not.”

She writes, “There have been 44 school shootings since the December 2012 Newtown, Conn., tragedy.”

The problem is the wide definition of “school shooting.” Her wording attempts to suggest the shootings had similarities to the Newtown shooting.

I spot-checked the most recent six shootings from a list published by an offshoot of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and found some shootings — tragic as they were — that simply mirrored the types of shootings that occur in many areas. A husband shoots his estranged wife in the parking lot. A pair of 17-year-olds attack an 18-year-old in the parking lot over a girl. A gang dispute results in gunfire in the parking lot. A young man enters a classroom by himself and commits suicide. Young toughs enter a gym at 3 p.m., start a fight that moves to the street, and shoot a student who was a former friend of the shooter. A brawl between three men in their 20s results in a shooting in a college parking lot.

The point is that the use of the term “school shooting” is meant for a visceral, emotional reaction to further a — to be blunt — marketing campaign. The question is, will an appeal to emotion lead to effective policies?

Lastly, she talks about “an epidemic of gun violence.” Again, it depends. There may be one in Camden or other murder capitals, but broader statistics do not support this assertion.

FactCheck.org says gun ownership is going up at the same time that gun murders and gun-aggravated assaults — or an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury, as defined by the FBI — have been going down.

Leon Goudikian
Freehold Borough