Media Matters, a George Soros funded progressive media “watch dog”, recently responded to a Jan 21st segment on Fox’ Americas newsroom in which frequent Fox News guest Lars Larson called for the of the gun free school acts. In their response they make this statement backed up by some statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics:
In fact, statistics show that gun-free school zones are safer for youth than areas that permit them. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that gun-free zones like primary and secondary schools are typically safer for young people, as gun deaths in gun-free zones never exceeded 2 percent of total youth homicides:
This is exactly the kind of this that Mark Twain was referring to when he talked about “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics”. MM first makes the claim that gun free areas are “safer for youth than areas that permit them”. Then they use the BJS data to support that claim. But does the data actually lead to or support that claim? MM is falling prey to (and is likely a willing victim of) the informal logical fallacy of confusing correlation with causation. What the BJS data shows is that a far greater % of youth homicides happen away from school than happen at school. They then falsely claim that the cause of that fact is that schools are gun free zones.
Let me give you an example to show how MM’s claim is not actually support by the data. I don’t have a study to prove this point, but I think most of you wouldn’t argue the point that most kids eat their afternoon meal (and an increasing percentage the morning meal as well) at school. Is it then logical to say that kids eat lunch because they are at school? The two are absolutely correlated, but I think its clear that one is not causing the other.
It’s the same with youth homicides: just because fewer happen at school than everywhere else, doesn’t prove that it’s the absence of firearms that is causing fewer homicides to be committed at school. There could be a many causes for the fact that there more youth homicides are committed outside of school than in: children are not at school more hours of the day than they are at school, children involved with drugs and other illegal activities are more likely to engage in violence that leads to homicide in locations other than schools, or children are more likely to be the victim of family violence outside of school.
What would correlation actually look like. One way that scientists correlate cause and effect is by using a controlled environment, changing one variable and then measuring the effect. If you wanted to see the effect of banning guns in schools on youth homicide rates, you would have to look at homicide rates in schools that ban guns vs. those that don’t. Michael Menkus has done just such an analysis. Mr. Menkus looked at the number of school shooting events (different than the # of homicides for sure, but still a valid measure of violence) before and after the gun free school act was enacted in 1990. Here is what he found – the average frequency of attack quadrupled after the gun free schools act was passed:
Then there is the example of Utah, where teachers are allowed to carry guns in schools and there have been zero attacks. MM, this is what correlation looks like.
All children need to be protected, regardless of where they are – on school property or elsewhere. By illogically using the BJS data to support their false claim, MM shows everyone a new way to dance in the blood of the victims of violence.