The Double Standard of Crime Data Correlations

One of the first things people learn about scientific data is that correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation. The reason people are taught this is because failing to understand this can lead people to think there are some weird connections when there aren’t.

Crime data is something that we often have to be careful about. The reason is that crime is complex and seeing an increase in crime correlated with something else may or may not be the case. There could be other factors.

But when people make a claim that if X happens, crime will go up, they’re declaring a correlation will happen.

So, when it doesn’t, it calls their premise into question. When it goes down, though…well, then it gets interesting.

Take constitutional carry in Ohio. Opponents of such things like to claim crime will increase and murders will skyrocket.

In Ohio, that didn’t happen, and it seems now, they remember to be careful with correlations.

A new study shows Ohio’s permitless carry law coincided with a statewide drop in crime, but officials disagree on whether there is a correlation.
Ohio’s largest cities saw firearm-related crimes fall in the first year after the state began allowing legal gun owners to carry their weapons without needing a permit or training, according to a study sponsored by Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican.
It’s the latest salvo in the ongoing back and forth between researchers to hammer out what effect permissive gun laws have on criminal behavior.
For Mr. Yost and the team at Bowling Green State University, the study released earlier this month serves as a sharp rebuttal to Democrat leaders who have pointed to the law as a cause for their city’s public safety issues.
“What the study shows, scientifically, is that constitutional carry did not lead to an increase in crime,” Mr. Yost told The Washington Times. “[That’s] what we set out to ask, because the big city mayors, every time something bad happened after constitutional carry was instituted, they said ‘Well, this is because of the Republicans in Columbus are changing the law.’”

Now, Yost doesn’t say that this proves anything about constitutional carry. While I figure it’s likely that constitutional carry led to the decline in violent crime rates, we can’t prove that with this.

Correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation.

However, causation should equal correlation. In this case, it doesn’t, and this study clearly shows that.

It’s not enough for some officials in Ohio.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, a Democrat, singled out the open carry law following a shooting that left nine people wounded last summer.
And Zach Klein, the top prosecutor in Columbus, has repeatedly argued that lax gun laws have played a part in his city’s own violence problem. Mr. Klein is currently pushing for Ohio’s Supreme Court to hand local control over gun laws to cities.
But both Columbus and Cleveland saw drops in firearms-related offenses — which the study defines as fatal and nonfatal shootings, as well as crimes where guns are involved such as robberies, carjackings and illegal possession — during the attorney general’s investigation.

Yet, as noted above, while both officials are blaming Ohio’s gun laws for their cities’ violent crime issues, their violent crime rates are dropping in the wake of constitutional carry.

In other words, the party of “follow the science” isn’t following the science, which is hardly shocking.

If the numbers had been reversed, though, we know what we’d hear.

The coverage would have every Democrat in the state blaming the rise in violence on constitutional carry and any other pro-gun bit of legislation passed in Ohio over the last 20 years. They’d never give anyone a moment’s rest, blaming the law for the rise in crime.

But it didn’t produce any such rise. Violent crime dropped and they’re basically ignoring it. Now violent crime is too complex to attribute a drop in it to the passage of a single law. Suddenly now all of that matters.

Yeah, I’m annoyed by this, because we’re not pulling this out of our fourth point of contact. We’ve literally seen them try to make this claim at other points.

Take the example of nine people being injured. The shooter in that instance was charged with “having weapons under disability.” That’s Ohio’s version of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Just how in the world does constitutional carry–which only applies to people who can lawfully possess a firearm–somehow get blamed for an armed felon shooting nine people?

But facts don’t matter. All that matters is what you can blame for the incident.

Violent crime is dropping either because of constitutional carry or regardless of it. The numbers, however, show this happening across the state.

If constitutional carry was causing problems, that would have been reflected in the data. It’s not, and some folks in Ohio owe the entire state an apology.

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