Palm Beach Post article
So you want to write an article making people frightened of gun violence and of the "easy availability of guns." The good news is, you're in Florida, the home of "shall issue" and the "castle doctrine," so easy availability of guns is no problemo.
The bad news (for a reporter with that bent): Florida gun homicides have fallen 25% over the last decade. Even worse, they dropped 48% in your county.
Solution: keep looking until you find two zip codes where the rates have at least stayed stable. Didn't go up, didn't go down, either. And of course the cost of medical care has gone up over the last decade. The result is this article in the Palm Beach Post.
"A Palm Beach Post analysis found that while gun violence plummeted across Florida during the past decade, Palm Beach County grew even more deadly. Shooting deaths increased and the cost of caring for the injured ballooned."
Yet in the next paragraph: "The number of people killed by gunfire in Palm Beach County last year remained roughly the same as 10 years before..."
" In 2005, at least 173 people were treated for serious gunshot wounds at the county's two trauma centers, at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach and Delray Medical Center. That is an increase from the 171 victims treated in 1995." Yes, an increase of two, over ten years, while population bloomed (farther down, the article acknowledges county population is up by 31%).
Well, a quick back of the envelope check results in an approximately 22% decrease in the per capita homicide rate for the problem counties. Of course, then the statewide reductions are obviously even greater on a per capita basis, too, though I didn't see any indication of statewide population change in the article (and I'm too lazy to go try to look it up somewhere.)
My only question is: does this discrepancy result from the reporter's poor math skills, or his poor honesty skills?
Posted by: Kirk Parker at June 11, 2006 11:57 AM
The florida gun debate was won years ago. There is a solid consenus amongst the people, the LEAs, the politicians and the judges that an armed citizenry is not a problem in the slightest.
The simple truth is that when someone presents an article with complex math like this, all you have to do is point out (as you did) that murders and crime overall are way down since Florida went shall-issue.
Posted by: beerslurpy at June 11, 2006 01:03 PM
"My only question is: does this discrepancy result from the reporter's poor math skills, or his poor honesty skills?"
1. Getting a journalism degree doesn't exactly take a genius.
2. When was honesty a factor in selling a story?
Posted by: BobG at June 11, 2006 01:52 PM
And, if you read all the way to the end of the article they flatly state what the problem is: young black males targeting each other.
Posted by: KCSteve at June 12, 2006 12:10 PM