The down and dirty facts on gun violence

It took longer than I expected after the horrific gun  violence at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before the lunatic right wing hate talk began. But who better than Joe the Plummer to kick it off?: “Your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights.” Our public discourse has been so degraded that there will be nothing but outrageous, violent talk on the right and indignation from the mainstream. Actually fixing a serious public health issue is no longer an option. The right has so dominated the (non-existent) “debate” that it has been able to get its way not only in proliferating gun availability but also in systematically cutting off research in gun violence.

So without any fancy sociology or rigorous statistical analysis, let’s see what the right is afraid of if there were a “debate” on gun control.  I performed a simple Google search for deaths by guns per 100,000 per state.  The result is shown in the first two columns (after the state name) below. The number of deaths per 100,000 in the first column, and the rank of that state in most deaths by guns in the second column. Now I wanted to see if strict gun control helps lower the  death rate. So I Googleed “best gun rights by state” and the first link was to an article in Guns and Ammo entitled “Best States for Gun Owners: 2013.” Now I admit that I am not conversant in the theology of gun worship. Maybe Guns and Ammo is not sufficiently pro-guns. Or maybe the criteria it uses is simply weighted in favor of one factor rather than a more important one for those who equate the Gun Lobby with the Founding Fathers. All I can say is that I didn’t invent the rankings, although I admit they are somewhat subjective. But they are undoubtedly not leftist, whatever their other failings are. So I place the ranking in the last column: 1 = most lax state and 50 = least lax.

So what does it show? Well, this will never be published in a sociology journal because I can’t compute the chi-squared or even a linear correlation. And probably in the middle the difference between “more lax” and “less lax” is somewhat meaningless. But check out the rankings. Do you think there is a logical correlation between lax gun control and deaths by guns? It’s especially prominent in the top and bottom 5 states. The strictest gun control states have the least gun deaths per capita. The most lax are largely among the highest ranked states for gun mortality. Yes, it’s not science, but it’s close enough for public policy, especially when the right is so afraid of science that it won’t permit studies.

Gun Deaths
(per 100,000)

Rank in
Gun Deaths

Rank in
Lax Gun Laws
Alaska

20

1

3

Louisiana

19.5

2

17

Wyoming

18.8

3 6

Arizona

18

4

1

Nevada

17.3

5

22

Mississippi

17.3

6 18

New Mexico

16.6

7

36

Arkansas

16.3

8

31

Alabama

16.2

9

7

Tennessee

15.4

10

23

West Virginia

14.7

11

21

Montana

14.5

12

11

South Carolina

13.8

13

14

North Carolina

13.6

14

19

Georgia

13.4

15

13

Kentucky

13.1

16

5

Oklahoma

13.1

17

30

Missouri

12.3

18

9

Idaho

12.3

19

32

Indiana

11.7

20

16

Colorado

11.5

21

37

Maryland

11.5

22

43

Florida

11.1

23

12

Virginia

11.1

24

24

Texas

11

25

15

Michigan

10.9

26

33

Oregon

10.5

27

28

Pennsylvania

9.9

28

20

California

9.8

29

47

Illinois

9.7

30

44

Kansas

9.7

31

8

Utah

9.7

32

4

Ohio

9.3

33

35

Vermont

9.6

34

2

Washington

9.3

35

40

Delaware

9.1

36

41

North Dakota

9.1

37

26

Wisconsin

8.1

38

25

Nebraska

8.1

39

34

South Dakota

7.9

40

27

Iowa

6.7

41

38

Maine

6.5

42

39

Minnesota

6

43

39

New Hampshire

5.8

44

10

Rhode Island

5.1

45

42

New York

5.1

46

50

New Jersey

4.9

47

49

Connecticut

4.3

48

45

Massachusetts

3.1

49

48

Hawaii

2.8

50

46

The other thing to note about this chart is that there is a 6.5-fold increase in the number of gun deaths per thousand as we go from the most restrictive state (Hawaii) to the least (Arizona). And Arizona can’t even claim the highest number of gun deaths per population. That honor goes to Alaska, which according to Guns & Ammo, has the third most lax gun regulations. Anyone who argues for fewer gun restrictions is arguing for more gun deaths. But in the one year after the Newtown gun massacre, according to the New York Times (December 10, 2013), 70 state laws have been passed to loosen gun restrictions and only 39 tightening them. And which party was the one that controlled those states which loosened regulations? Read the article if you have any doubts.

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  1. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist.

    • here to stop disingenuousness
    • May 28th, 2014

    Understand that gun deaths includes suicides too (60% of gun deaths). If you think gun control policies drive down total suicide rates, think again.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

    The US has a 12.0 homicide rate, while the UK and Australia have 11.8 and 10.0 respectively. They are the examples used most often as who we should follow in terms of gun control, and their total suicide rate is not all that different than ours.

    Then you have Japan and South Korea, which have 21.7 and 28.1 total suicides. That is a way higher rate than the US, and they have less guns than any of the earlier examples, while also having stricter gun control than the previous examples.

    So if you think gun control will fix the total suicide rate, look at the numbers and tell me if that has worked for other countries?

    • Whether it’s suicide, homicide or accidental death, the correlation between lax gun laws and gun mortality is in the simple chart I present. How do you explain it? Or maybe I should ask, What is the gun lobby’s explanation? It really seems pretty simple to conclude that more + more powerful guns = more death. You should at least embrace that. Joe the Plummer has. If gun control laws do nothing with respect to the suicide rate, then they must reduce homicide and accidental deaths by a much greater amount than my chart shows. If that is the case, isn’t that an even stronger reason for gun control? If you had to pick two of the three to stop, which would you pick from this group: homicides, suicides, accidental deaths?

      And if you believe that statistics you cite are useful, do you think the CDC should be permitted to study gun violence? Or do we have enough information right now?

    • I would actually prefer to have an honest discussion with critics. But it seems that every time I address something too close to the wingnut self-image a sock puppet comes to recite an irrelevant talking point. Are these all gun industry employees? It is a waste of time to try to engage them in discussion, because they are only interested in recording a talking point and will never stick around to defend it.

  2. Claire, I agree common sense laws that invoke background checks are important and if a person is acutely mentally ill, guns should be removed from the home. There are other common sense approaches to mitigate gun violence.

    US studies are tainted, results are dependent on funding agents so even the raw data should be suspect because of the collection process.

    Global studies show strict gun ownership laws do not deter gun related violencve. Sweden has a militia style army with high gun ownership yet one the lowest gun violence rate. In contrast, UK has strict gun laws with one of the highest gun violence rate in Europe. Can’ remember how UK compares to US.

    Time we accept responsibility for our actions. Guns do not kill people do. I am more concerned about protection against the government (police) than criminals. Hey they are one and the same.

    With the rise in police brutality, I would join the NRA in protesting restrictions on gun ownership. Why? Restrictions tied to mental disorders will only serve to remove guns from non-whites, poor folks and white females. White males… commit heinous gun crimes, targeting mental disorders give white males carte blanc stand your ground rights…..and more gun violence without self protection.

  3. Reblogged this on Failure to Listen.

  4. First off in my opinion the NRA is nothing more or less than a terrorist organization as it stand today.The organization isn’t not nor has been a fair even handed organization.Formed on there demize of the Klan would not at first allow those of color,in cases where they were these folks demanded entry they were well hidden.Those that established the organization, should they still be around will of course deny any association with the klan,but with little effort on the part of any searcher, one will find the above to be true,however the organization has done their most to change things.
    As this organization stands right now they’ve very deep pockets.Which as any politician knows will buy any number of votes including there own.And here I will take the initiative to say to any incumbent state or federal,if you don’t like the truth being told then sue me ! As far as this American is concerned your all a pack of liars and thieves,who will run and hide behind and bible which they will claim show them to be good god fearing men and women.However those who are,would and should show all of you their asses.Now back to the NRA.
    I sincerely hope that this last shooting will be in fact,the last.And I know that “Dad” wouldn’t want anyone thanking him for what he said about doing something and about leadership and cowards will finally be the
    spark that burns the hair right off the backsides of the next stupid ass the says that it’s my constitutional right. Well listen dumb as stone it is not,the only right by the constitution is to form a well armed and organized militia.

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