01 May 2007

Associated Propaganda?

This is what happens when puppy-farm journalism majors metamorphosize into full-fledged puppets of the mainstream propaganda machine.

I was thumbing through a few-days-old copy of the Fairbanks Daily News-Manure (hey, it serves its purpose when you've run out of pages in your Sears Catalog in the auxiliary facilities out back), when I saw it feature an AP article entitled (as it appeared in our nearest major news rag--AP links to the column here) "U.S. gun control draws foreign debate."

Erm, a word to the editorial staff of the News-Miner--foreign countries are trying to deal with their own crises in their own way, and are by no means trying to influence the U.S. with the policies they pass. If they are, they serve as no good example.

While on the subject, in my absence from blogging, I did manage to watch "The Great U.N. Gun Debate" that a friend lent to me, which you can start watching below if you so please:

If you click on the embedded video above, it will take you straight to the video as found on YouTube. And from there, you can catch the other three parts in the links just to the right.

My conclusions: the pro-UN aussie philistina with the butch haircut did a very good job of convincing me that the U.N. is not out for preserving national sovereignty, and would like very much to impose a police state on the world if it were given more real power.

And that's my two bits on "world opinion." But I'm not done today just yet.

Getting back to the AP article, it lists all sorts of countries that have tried passing various measures to limit gun ownership. And, in typical pro-populace-control fashion, attempt to sing the praises of such measures while trying to paint the U.S. with a big smear of fake blood.

I particularly liked the chart the News-Minor included with the article. It lists 26 countries and ranks them by "Gun Death Rates." Guess who leads with a 9.42 rate per 100,000 population (2004 stats)? Uh-huh. Surprised?

But if we take a closer look at the chart (source stated as the "Small Arms Survey, Geneva"--whose partners include, suspiciously enough, several organizations focused upon small arms control--which casts some doubt over an unbiased view of arms ownership), we see some things even more revealing. But, strangely enough, these points aren't discussed in the article.

The chart states that the numbers include "homicides, suicides, accidental and undetermined deaths" (emphasis mine). But the actual numbers comprising these categories are missing. It doesn't seem to be readily available through the search function on the Survey's site, either (even typing in "9.42" reveals nothing related to the matter, even though the data comes from 2004), and I suspect you'll have to do a fair amount of mining to find the source data the News-Miner decided to use.

Interestingly enough, while hunting through the links to find the numbers used, I came across this article, dated 2000 from George Mason University, which finds no correlation between availability of firearms and homicide rates. The abstract reads thus:

This article seeks to examine the common view that widespread availability of firearms is a major cause, or even the principal cause, of high American rates of homicide. Reasonably accurate data as to both homicide rates and the acquisition and ownership of firearms in the United States are available back to the mid-1940s. These data do not show a correlation over the long term between the distribution of firearms in the population at large and homicide rates. The two variables do cross occasionally, but they do not do so consistently. Rather, the trend in the period 1973-1997 was one of very large increases in firearms accompanied by essentially flat, even diminishing, homicide rates. That is the general rule for the period since the end of World War II to date.

Nice to see that the Survey includes research that raises questions over its own raison d'etre. I can respect that.

But getting back to the chart in question, while it presents a high number for the U.S., it does nothing to explain the circumstances yielding those numbers. Take homicides and suicides, for example. Are murderous/self-destructive inclinations of unbalanced people a direct function of a tool which can neither think nor feel? No.

(Btw, the total number of suicides in the U.S. in 2004 were 32,439. I've found no hard numbers for those that have been committed by firearm, but this article says it was "more than half."--I'll say 55%=17,842. That would make up 63% of the number I'm about to give below).

Going by the numbers, the 9.42 per 100,000 for the U.S. yields some 28,260 deaths by firearm in 2004. For a population of 300 million, that still accounts for only .009% of the total U.S. population.

And if you go by the 250 million firearms that are supposedly in this country, that means only .01% of them were involved in these deaths.

That is a ridiculously low percentage to worry about, and is still surpassed by the 40,000 auto fatalities that happen every year. And, given that there are a comparable amount of passenger vehicles in the U.S. as there are guns (243,023,485 according to this Wikipedia entry), you don't hear too much about measures enacted to further restrict auto ownership, even though it is a privilege, rather than a right.

Don't fall for the hype, people.

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