Mayor Bloomberg misunderstands statistics
Lots of people, from individuals to politicians, are attempting to capitalize on the Trayvon Martin shooting in different ways. Yesterday, NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg made a statement at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Here’s short video from the speech:
Bloomberg says that “we” now have evidence to prove that Stand Your Ground laws are detrimental to society. Towards the end of this clip he says that justifiable homicide cases have increased dramatically since Stand Your Ground became implemented. He specifically cites Florida which has seen its number of average justifiable homicide cases increase from 12 to 36 per year since the statute was implemented back in 2005.
Do we see what’s wrong with this argument?
Walter Olson of the Cato Institute pointed out in an op-ed a couple of days ago the faulty logic that Bloomberg was parroting yesterday. Olson wrote:
In neither report does the Post come to grips with what those numbers actually mean. They represent not a rise in the rate at which some group is getting killed — as mentioned, homicide rates per capita in Florida are down from 2005, not up, and violent crime rates in the state are sharply down — but rather successful assertions of self-defense, in other words, a shift from one category of homicide to another. Of course the whole idea of the law was to make the self-defense justification more available where a homicide had occurred. Many casual Post readers will assume that dozens of persons a year now die in Florida who would have lived otherwise, but they will be wrong in that assumption.
Olson was responding to an editorial
in the Washington Post (which cited the wrong statistics though the gist of their argument still holds true):
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida experienced an average of 34 “justifiable homicides” before 2005; two years after the Stand Your Ground law was enacted, the number jumped to more than 100. Similarly disturbing spikes have been found in other states with similar laws. According to an analysis of FBI data done by the office of New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), who co-chairs the 650-strong Mayors Against Illegal Guns, states that passed Stand Your Ground laws experienced a 53.5 percent increase in “justifiable homicides” in the three years following enactment; states without such laws saw a 4.2 percent increase.
Silly me; I thought justifiable homicides were a good thing. Just by simple algebra, a justifiable homicide offsets an unjustified homicide or an unjustified attack. As Olson notes in his piece, overall homicide rates have dropped in most states after the implementation of Stand Your Ground, including in Florida.