Re: Assault/military style weapons - what we can do to control them
posted at 12/21/2012 12:52 PM EST
Okay, let's explain how the English language works.
Let's start with the title. It says:
8. Criminals who are shot are typically the victims of crime
What this means is that criminals are typically shot by other criminals . . . this would imply that typically they aren't shot by innocent people defending themselves. Typical is an imprecise word, but let's assume it means a substantial majority.
Now let's move on to the text in the paragraph that you are struggling with. The first line you are struggling with says:
We found that one in four of these detainees had been wounded, in events that appear unrelated to their incarceration.
This means that 25% of the criminals were wounded in events that weren't related to their crime--this means they were wounded for some other reason and maybe were not victims of a crime.
Now we go on to the next sentence which says:
Most were shot when they were victims of robberies, assaults and crossfires.
What this means is that the majority of the criminals studied were wounded by other criminals either robbing them, attacking them, or shooting at other people. The abstract is not clear whether 3 out of 4 (i.e., all those not included in the 1 out of 4 mentioned in the prior sentence) were victims of crime or whether just some portion of those were. For that, you'd have to read the actual study. (As a general recommendation, it's always worthwhile reading what you're critiquing). What it does say is "most"were shot by other criminals--and if most were shot in this way, then saying this is "typical" is reasonable, at least for the level of detail included in an abstract. (An abstract is merely intended to give researchers an idea if the article covers a topic they are interested in--it isn't intended to rigourously present any results.)
Finally, it says:
Virtually none report being wounded by a "law-abiding citizen."
Well, you'll have to go back to the full study to get percentages and clarify whether the "none" is none of the whole sample or none of some portion of the sample. The abstract isn't clear (but it doesn't need to be, because it's an abstract, not the study). Someone who was really interested in the topic described in the abstract would then read the study to evaluate the claims of the study. Arguing with an abstract is a silly exercise, since an abstract is not a study, but merely a very high-level description of the study.
One other point . . . this web entry is probably not even the actual abstract of the article that was included in the publishing journal, it's probably just a brief summary of that abstract assembled by an editor in the School of Public Health's communication or PR department. Arguing about it is about as sensible as arguing about whether a movie is good or bad based on what's on the poster advertising the movie.