NRA Researcher Links Race, Homicide Rate
1996, The Washington Post, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
A statistician for the National Rifle Association insists that race is a more important factor in the nation's homicide rate than the availability of guns.
"Textbook epidemiology notes that despite the controversy of studying disease by race, differences in frequency and severity among racial groups may be too great to ignore," Paul H. Blackman said in a paper he has delivered at meetings of criminologists and health researchers.
Blackman's research puts a controversial new twist on the NRA's gun r ights orthodoxy and is part of a growing body of work being developed by gun rights proponents targeting gun control advocates who argue that increased availability of firearms increases the risk of homicide.
Some statisticians agree with Blackman's statistical analysis, but disagree with his conclusion that the widespread availability of handguns is not a factor in homicide.
"Violence and homicide are caused by many different factors. There is no question that African-Americans are disproportionately perpetrators and victims of homicide," said James Mercy, acting director of the division of violence prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"That has nothing to do with race, per se. It has to do with the fact that African-Americans are disproportionately poorer and affected by economic problems. And that fact doesn't mean there is no role played by access to and availability to firearms."
By isolating race as a factor in homicide, his critics say, Blackman's assertion is underlined by the same notions that motivate some researchers to look for genetic links to crime. Proponents of that view believe genetic faults make some people more prone to violence than others. But critics of that view believe that the prospect of finding a scientifically verifiable genetic link is dim and that the claim plays into the hands of racists. …