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Does Gun Control Work?

October 4, 2015

Obama teleprompterThere have been a lot of claims thrown around after the murders at the Umpqua Community College in Oregon.  President Obama and the anti-rights groups have been quick to call for more firearms prohibitions, more gun control laws.  I wondered if “gun control” works.  I looked at the data, and I’d say “gun control” fails.  Let me show you.

I put the term “gun control” in quotes for a reason.  There are some 23 thousand gun control laws.  I doubt that each and every gun control law is equally effective at reducing crime.  I don’t know how to weight the importance of each law.  I also don’t know how to compare similar laws between states.  For example, is hunter education a part of “gun control”, and is it as effective as “mandatory waiting periods” in reducing violent crime?  I appealed to the experts to answer that question.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence issues a scorecard each year.  They rate the gun prohibitions in each state.  I used their system to put the states in order from those with strict gun laws to those with lax gun laws.  The data I used is from their state scorecards for the end of 2013.

I also wanted to know the rate of violent crime in each state.  The FBI crime data from 2012  provided that data. 

What should we expect to see?  If gun control really made a difference, then we could predict the crime rate based on the gun control laws.  We would see a decrease in criminal violence in states where criminals gave up their guns due to strict gun control laws.  At the opposite end of the scale, we would see an increase in crime in the states where gun control laws were lax.    If gun control really worked, then the graph should look something like this.

correct variable

What would the data look like if gun control was ineffective?  If criminals didn’t care about gun laws and the states were otherwise very similar, then we would see very similar rates of violence in each state.  That says gun control is not a real factor that determines the crime rate.  Knowing how a state ranks in gun laws would tell us very little about the states crime rate.  A statistician would say crime is not correlated with gun control.

wrong data

Now let’s look at the real data.  I put the states in order of their Brady rank and then plotted the rate of violent crime.  We don’t see results like my two examples.  Instead, the rate of violent crime varies by a factor of about 6-to-1 between the different states.  That means there are factors that significantly influence the rate of crime.    In contrast to their claims, the Brady Campaign’s rank of gun control laws in each state has almost nothing to do with the rate of violent crime.  The least violent and most violent states have nearly the same Brady score.  Look for yourself.  You can’t predict a states crime rate if  you know their gun control laws.

violent crime rate

Maybe the effects of gun control are hidden.  Maybe gun control works to control some violent crimes, but not others.  I also looked at the rates of aggravated assault and forcible rape to see if they were effected by state gun laws.  Again, I put the states in order and plotted their crime rates.

The strictness of a state’s gun laws does not predict the rate of forcible rape or aggravated assault.  Neither of those violent crimes shows a strong correlation with their ranking by the Brady Campaign.

rape rate

agg assault

What do these results tell us?  The data tells us that the gun control laws as weighed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence do not control crime.  Other laws and public practices might control crime.  We see large differences from state to state.  Whatever controls crime, it is not those gun laws.  That does not mean that crime can’t be reduced.

We have seen laws and social trends change with time.  Gun ownership has increased by over 60% since the mid 1990s.  We would expect crime to rise if guns caused crime.  In fact we see the opposite effect.   According to FBI data, the rate of violent crime has fallen almost 50 percent over the same time period.

violent crime trends

I’ve had anti-gun spokesmen tell me that gun control stopped crime and saved lives.  Now that I’ve seen the data, I’d say gun control has very little effect on criminal violence.  I’d say the anti-gun spokesman lied to me.

So did President Obama.
~_~_

Rob

Later confirmation by Professor Eugene Volokh here.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. KUETSA permalink
    October 4, 2015 11:26 pm

    If our personal transportation vehicles were outlawed – would there be less traffic deaths? Would transportation control work? If the millions upon millions of inner city dwellers who rely on mass transit voted to outlaw personal transportation vehicles to save lives, would that be OK? We are, as a society, so willing to accept traffic deaths and not think, or blink twice, yea yea, it’s OK – give me my car! It’s worth it!

    As of October 4 11:25 PM EDT since January 1 2015
    There have been 34,526 traffic deaths in the USA – and it’s OK – we don’t even have to talk about it.

    BUT GUN CARNAGE – THE EPIDEMIC OF SLAUGHTER THAT OUR LEADERS LONGING TO BE SOCIALIST/COMMUNIST TOTALITARIANS KEEP BARRAGING US ABOUT CONSTANTLY THROUGH THEIR COMPLICIT MEDIA – THEY ARE SO CONCERNED FOR OUR SAFETY THAT THEY JUST WILL NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER – THEY NEED FOR US TO BELIEVE THEY ARE DOING US A FAVOR FOR OUR OWN GOOD IN TAKING OUR FIREARMS TO SAVE US FROM THE MASSACRE, THE BLOODBATH OF EPIC PROPORTION!

    As of October 4 11:25 PM EDT since January 1 2015
    There have been 23,001 gun deaths – BUT WAIT – 12,808 WERE SUICIDES – the suicides, though unfortunate are no threat to the public, and statistics show someone would find another path to suicide.
    That leaves 10,193 gun deaths – of which 487 were accidents which shows no malice but it does show a danger – but nothing compared to cars 34,526 deaths – or falls which accounted for 15,803 deaths in the same time period – or suffocations of which there were 10,807 – or poisonings which accounted for 28,282 deaths since Jan 1

    So that leaves 9,706 gun homicides where someone intentionally killed someone. Everyone would have to acknowledge that the highest rate of statistics generated for gun deaths are the ones not talked about at all – INNER CITY DRUG GANG TURF WARS AND INNER CITY CRIME – all committed with illegal guns that GUN CONTROL WOULD HAVE NO BEARING ON! They’ll say “free constitutional sates” are the source of these guns. HEROIN IS ILLEGAL IN ALL 50 STATES! Heroin is not “cooked in a kitchen” like meth – it must be smuggled in from foreign countries – AND WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF A HEROIN EPIDEMIC IN OUR COUNTRY! GUNS IN A POST CONSTITUTIONAL AMERICA WILL BE AS AVAILABLE AS HEROIN ON THE BLACK MARKET! (TO CRIMINALS – ONLY LAW ABIDING CITIZENS WILL BE UNARMED) It is said most of the statistics regarding gun deaths are from these illegal guns – but let’s count half – which is generous to socialists looking to trick us to give up our guns.

    4853 GUN DEATHS

    Subtract from that GOOD SHOOTINGS – cops killing bad guys – citizens saving their own lives etc. – even of the 10 reported killed in Oregon this week one of those deaths was the bad guy – so really 9 were killed. Again, being generous to totalitarian slanderous deceivers, take half, although even at this number, in a population of 300,000,000 THERE IS NO EMERGENCY GENOCIDE GOING ON RELATED TO GUN VIOLENCE AS THEY ARE ATTEMPTING TO DECEIVE US TO BELIEVE IN THEIR ATTEMPT TO HAVE US ACCEPT DISARMAMENT!!! But I’ll be fair both ways, and take half!

    2427 GUN DEATHS – AND IT’S A NATIONAL EMERGENCY THAT THEY TAKE OUR GUNS!

    If we lived in a colony of 10,000 people, this would be very alarming. Understanding numbers generated from a population of 300,000,000 – the numbers actually PROVE that law abiding gun owners, powerful as guns are, are VERY SAFE RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE! REMEMBER IN THAT 2427 THERE ARE STILL SHOOTINGS BY CRIMINALS WITH ILLEGAL GUNS!

    This shows how reality can be distorted and outright altered to advance an agenda. This is why totalitarian regimes have always controlled news media to force public perceptions toward achieving their goals. These are dangerous times of historical proportion. We have a progressive socialist party in power in a frenzy to disarm us. We have a progressive socialist party flooding our country with a new immigrant voting base to insure they keep power. Their next presidential candidate vowing to repeal the second amendment. If they win power again they WILL turn us, a free armed people, into controlled socialist subjects.

    From CDC website:
    “From 2005-2009, there were an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 347 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.”

    There is as much of a national emergency from unintentional drownings in this country!
    TOTALITARIANS DO NOT CARE IF YOU HAVE A POOL OR A CAR OR POISONS IN YOUR HOME OR IF YOU ARE UP ON YOUR ROOF OR IF YOUR KID PLAYS WITH PLASTIC BAGS – NONE OF THAT IS A THREAT TO THEIR POWER!

    TOTALITARIANS WANT YOUR GUNS – AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF YOUR SECOND AMENDMENT – THEY WANT YOUR RIFLES – (For now . . . you can keep your pop guns . . . once they have your rifles . . . you’ll do what they tell you . . . OR ELSE!)

    IT IS UP TO US – TO COMPLY – OR SAY NO!
    THE NUMBERS PROVE IT – WE DO NOT NEED GUN CONTROL!
    THEY NEED GUN CONTROL – TO ACHIEVE THEIR GLOBALIST SOCIALIST/COMMUNIST TOTALITARIAN STATE!

    PS – As of October 4 11:25 PM EDT since January 1 2015
    A FIREARM WAS USED BY A LAW ABIDING CITIZEN IN THE USA FOR SELF DEFENSE
    1,840,962 TIMES – NOT ALWAYS SHOOTING – (SOMETIMES JUST HAVING A GUN IS ENOUGH TO SCARE THE CRIMINAL AWAY)

    It is not enough to say we shouldn’t have gun control – BY EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER, WHATEVER IT TAKES, EVERYTHING IT TAKES, WE MUST NOT EVER ALLOW GUN CONTROL!

    Death statistics from:
    http://www.actionamerica.org/guns/gun-web-widget.shtml
    http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html

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Trackbacks

  1. Confirmation from the Washington Post- Gun Control Doesn’t Work | SlowFacts
  2. Violence and Utopia- Realism and Idealism in the age of gun control | SlowFacts

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