To The Herald-Whig:
The Saturday, March 2, Herald-Whig carried an Associated Press article entitled "Study: Gun violence has increased in Missouri." The article quotes a study that claims gun killings increased in Missouri between 2008 and 2010 by 25 percent, while national rates for the same period declined by 10 percent. The researcher implicated a relaxing of Missouri gun laws in 2007 as a contributing factor.
Before I continue, allow me to pose a question: Suppose you want to research a medicine that your doctor just prescribed. Which study of the drug would you think is most likely to be free of bias, the one by a NASA scientist, or the one conducted and published by the drug company that invented it?
In search of some objective truth, I pointed my browser to FBI.gov. I would think that the FBI Uniform Crime Reports data would be the most accurate and objective available. These reports are the sources usually cited when you see news stories about crime rates.
Tables 5 and 20 of the reports for 2008 and 2010 show that the number of gun murders in Missouri decreased 8 percent from 2008 to 2010. The murder rate, the number of murders per 100,000 people decreased by 9 percent.
According to FBI data, the loosening of Missouri gun laws in 2007 did nothing to change the ongoing decline in murder rates.
How can this be? The esteemed researcher from the esteemed university claims they increased by 25 percent. How can there be a huge difference? How can a regular guy find such incredibly contradictory data from the government's top law enforcement agency in less than 20 minutes?
The article presented the study's author as ... "John Hopkins University professor and researcher Daniel Webster." Sounds innocuous enough. The researcher's full title is "Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health." Bloomberg, as in the emperor of New York City who believes he should decree the size of soda a person can purchase. Bloomberg, as in the fanatically anti-gun billionaire founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
This AP article will be read by millions of citizens and their legislators. Deliberately or otherwise, it is missing a key piece of information regarding the study's backing. As we debate the fate of the Second Amendment, the second item in our Bill of Rights, we deserve better.