I’m Not Making This Up, You Know

There’s now a “movement” to eliminate the use of black targets in law enforcement training because of claims that “young black men are 3X more likely to be shot by trained shooters than their white peers” and a “study by University of Illinois researchers that concluded shooters were more likely to fire at a black target.” (H/T, guns.com)

aw20170219Correlation is not the same thing as causation, so statistically, there are two questions that should examined concerning that “3X more likely” claim—if it is true. First, young black men are a small subset of the population, but, as a group, they appear to be more likely that average to be involved in crime. How much more likely? 3X? More? If more likely, one is led to wonder why they would be shot less frequently than their share of dangerous interactions with police (or armed victims) would suggest. Second, how much more likely than average are young black men to be shot at (including being missed) by untrained shooters? It could be that one reason young black men are only 3X more likely to be shot by trained shooters is that training reduces the probability of an unjustified shooting.

Both of those factors may come into play. Or neither.