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Member since: Fri Mar 22, 2013, 07:10 AM
Number of posts: 331

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In general, I'm of the mind that the faster armed resistance arrives, the faster these things end.

But a military base is definitely an excellent counter to John Lott's argument.

It is often said by those who oppose gun-free zones that if a victim were allowed to have a gun, perhaps the shooter could be stopped sooner. This argument is almost always countered by the ad absurdum, "What if everyone had a gun? Wouldn't that make it worse?"

Normally, this argument is fallacious because nobody actually argues for arming everyone, but rather, allowing those who choose to be armed to do so. Where I live in Kentucky, for example, that would mean at most 5% of people would be armed. Furthermore, there's no evidence that armed civilians have ever made a mass shooting worse, or confused a second responder for the perpetrator.

However, a military base is quite different from, say, a University. It has security checkpoints that can assure that those on base truly are disarmed, and it has a much higher level of security to protect them. In this way it can live up to the responsibility of providing protection that it took upon itself when it denied others the ability to protect themselves.

There's another huge difference in Ret. Col. Jacobs' argument. It is that the proportion of a military base's population who would choose to be armed is much, much higher than the population off-base. In this manner a military base may actually approach that ad absurdum of "arming everyone."

I've never been in the military, and I don't presume to know what is best for the security of a military base. But I do know that if, God forbid, I ever found myself in an active shooter situation, I would want another gun to show up as fast as possible, be it mine or someone else's.

The principle I work from regarding registration is this...

There is prudence in knowing who may own guns, but none in knowing who does own guns.

Background checks on the front end are where focus should be placed, not registration. Stated another way, government should have to prove that I don't have the right to own a gun (through criminal offense or adjudicated mental illness), I shouldn't have to prove that I do by registration. The goal of registration is to keep track of me just in case I commit a crime in the future. We do this for sex offenders and parolees, people who have committed crimes in the past, not law-abiding citizens.

I would like to see a system put in place whereby a private seller can run a go/no-go instant background check by calling a 1-800 number and giving a driver's license or some other id number. For all the ado about the "gun show loophole," it seems nobody actually wants to close it by allowing private background checks.

Update: What the Florida SYG numbers seem to be telling me

I spent some time on the Tampa Bay Times site and ran the numbers on every combination I could conceive. I did t-tests for two proportions using this site comparing acquittal rates for every group:

White defendant
Minority defendant
White victim
Minority victim
White on white
White on minority
Minority on white
Minority on minority
Inter-racial vs intra-racial

I compared every single option that gave a number of acquittals and a number of cases to every single other option (though I have only finished the fatal cases so far). Only two comparisons, yep two out of over 100, achieved statistical significance. They were the following:

Acquittal rate if victim is white: 56.5% (69 cases, 39 justified)
if victim is black: 78.1% (32 cases, 25 justified)
p-value: 0.0246

Acquittal rate for white on white: 58.8% (51 cases, 30 justified)
for white on minority: 83.3% (12 cases, 10 justified)
p-value: 0.0694

You'll note that these comparisons are very similar in that only the victim's race appears to be important. Interestingly the comparison of whites killing blacks vs blacks killing blacks was as follows:

Acquittal rate for white on black: 85.7% (7 cases, 6 justified)
Acquittal rate for black on black: 65.4% (26 case, 17 justified)
p-value: 0.2456

Similarly if we compare white defendants to black defendants we get:

Acquittal rate for white defendants: 61.5% (65 cases, 40 justified)
Acquittal rate for black defendants: 68.6% (35 cases, 24 justified)
p-value: 0.4816

My conclusion (and I reserve the right to be convinced otherwise) is that Florida's SYG law is applied equally to defendants of all races, however, there is a disparity in cases where the victim is a minority. I can't explain that disparity, but I have a hard time believing that it is racism because the the judicial system deals with defendants, not victims, and there appears to be no racial favoritism in the case of defendants.

I would very much like to hear your opinions. Also, if there are other comparisons that you would like to see, let me know and I will do my best to run the numbers. The Tampa Bay Times has a tally of how many cases are initiated by the victim (as opposed to the defendant), but unfortunately it does not break down how many of those case were deemed justified. I think it would be very telling if the acquittal rate is higher when the victim initiates vs when the defendant initiates, as this is particularly a propos to the Zimmerman trial.

ps- I also reserve the right to make mistakes with the numbers. I'm a bit of a statistics amateur, but I've done my best to avoid any gross errors.

Update with ALL cases:

The patterns I highlighted above remained true. In fact, the majority of comparisons became less significant. Most apparent was the comparison between white victims and black victims. When all cases are considered, this comparison becomes:

Acquittal rate if victim is white: 62.8% (129 cases, 81 justified)
Acquittal rate if victim is black: 75% (64 cases, 48 justified)
p-value: 0.0782

Notice that, while still significant, the confidence level has dropped from 95% confidence to 90%. Also, the acquittal rates are only 12.2 points different instead of 21.6. Perhaps that is why the Tampa Bay times article chose to use the fatal case numbers for their article, it is obviously the most inflammatory.

There were a few comparisons that became more significant, but none that reached significance that weren't already significant. Two, however, caught my eye because they improved and came pretty close to 90% significance. They are the following:

Acquittal rate if victim is white: 62.8% (129 cases, 81 justified)
Acquittal rate if victim is hispanic: 83.3% (12 cases, 10 justified)
p-value: 0.1048

Acquittal rate if case is Intra-Racial: 65.5% (148 cases, 97 justified)
Acquittal rate if case is Inter-Racial: 76.9% (52 cases, 40 justified)
p-value: 0.1082

The first statistic reaffirms the disparity between cases with white vs minority victims, but I'm not quite sure what to make of the second. It is likely confounded by the fact that the acquittal rate for white victims is much lower and the majority of white victim cases involve a white defendant. I don't think there's a racial argument to be made with this specific statistic, and it doesn't meet my definition of significant, but it is interesting.

Because rdharma will want to know, the p-value for the comparison of white on black cases vs black on white cases did increase from 0.4392 to 0.4206.

note- In all of these numbers I ignored pending cases (for obvious reasons). And always remember there are liars, there are dirty rotten liars, and then there are statisticians.
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