Guns and Gun Deaths, State by State
The other day I looked at number of guns versus number of gun deaths by country, in countries like ours that have pretty good rule of law. The correlation is pretty clear: more guns, more gun deaths.
But I was also wondering about correlation within the U.S., by state. I’m pleased to find that Sam Wang’s got it:
I’d say that great minds think alike, but really: Sam — a professor at Princeton — has got it all over me when it comes to drawing valid conclusions from statistical data.* For instance: like Nate Silver, he called every state correctly in the recent presidential election. But his stated confidence level was way above Nate’s — between a 99.2 and 100% chance that Obama would be re-elected. That’s putting your reputation where your predictions are.
Read Sam’s post and the one preceding it. He makes all sorts of sense. He also gives us the sources, so I thought I’d show the data a couple of other ways. How about…red states vs blue states? Here you go:
Does anyone see a pattern here? Here it is on a map:
Though I find that Richard Florida has beat me to it on this one:
You can quibble all you want about correlation and causation, but the simple fact is: if you live in a red state the odds of your children dying of gun violence is 75% higher than if you live in a blue state.
That may help explain why, when Americans vote with their feet and choose where to live, only 38% vote for red states. If you have firearms at home, or planning to purchase a new one from a gun shop, it is recommended to have a browning safe where you can safely store them and avoid any accidents.
It may also help explain why people in red states want guns so much: it’s dangerous to live in a red state. They’ve got all those guns.
I’m still asking: would you rather “feel” safe, or would you rather be safe?
* “Prof. Sam Wang‘s academic specialties are biophysics and neuroscience. In these fields he uses probability and statistics to analyze complex experimental data, and has published many papers using these approaches. He is also the author of Welcome To Your Brain, a popular book about his field.”
Cross-posted at Asymptosis.
First time at this website; interesting, but I’d be curious not simply to know about gun deaths as a whole, but about accidental versus intentional, along with an attempt to understand the number of crimes (or death/injuries) prevented by the putative victim having a firearm. Many thanks!
Red states have higher traffic death rates than blue states – Los Angeles Times: Red state voters are more likely to die in a traffic accident than blue state voters.
That’s the finding of FairWarning.org, an online, nonprofit publication that does public interest journalism.
“The 10 states with the highest fatality rates all were red, while all but one of the 10 lowest fatality states were blue.”
Teen Pregnancy Is Higher in Red States Than in Blue States | Mother Jones
Given that the bulk of red states are in the sunniest parts of the country maybe the problem is brain dysfunction due to excessive exposure to strong sunlight on the head. Or maybe its heat accumulation beneath those big hats they tend to wear in their efforts to look like Hopalong Cassidy. Or maybe its just an excess of egotistical thinking; as in my way or the highway.
Since I live in a red state, my supposition is that folks around here are less likely to use seat belts and more inclined to road rage, not to mention drinking and driving. And distance driven to get anywhere is greater than in urban areas. Less public transportation, as well.
As for teen pregnancy rates, less sex ed in schools, less sex ed, period. Kids are supposed to just do what the preacher sez remain a virgin until marriage. (I’ve never had anyone explain to me with whom the boys – who will be boys, after all – are supposed to “sow their wild oats” with).
I’m willing to be the number of people who spay or neuter their pets is much smaller in red states, too.
Why, or why, don’t I use the preview button? With whom/with. Duh.
my broader point, which i think steve will agree with, despite his interesting correlation, is that guns and gun deaths arent inherently a red state/ blue state or a liberal vs conservative thing; if there’s a divide on firearms regulation, it may be rural vs urban…and of course there are several different cultural subsets, ie,you can certainly include the ghetto & white suburban cultures as those groups with different outlooks…if politics comes into play at all, it is after the fact; those opposed to gun regulation may be more inclined to vote republican than those not…but that doesnt always hold true..
for instance, there is no one in my rural neighborhood who doesnt own several guns; yet some are as socially liberal as anyone in the city with the same politics…the owners of the hunting preserve directly behind my property are a major funder of democrats in ohio…
the emotional & reactive nature of the discussion around gun control at this time has been disturbing…bouncing our policy decisions off one event tends to lead to bad outcomes…it has the feel that it might produce the kind of unexpectedly restrictive results that the creation of the dept of homeland security did after 9-11…
I’ve been hunting. It is possible to take a deer, grouse or even boar or bear without a bushmaster and .223 rounds. Similarly, a glock pistol is not required for any hunting I’m familiar with. 30-round clips were illegal for hunting back in the day, yet sportsmen were able to hunt.
Can we stop lying about how private ownership of handguns and assault rifles is somehow legitimized by hunting? It is not only dishonest, it’s obscene.
The second amendment says nothing about hunting does it? You may have a different bill of rights then I do. Maybe you should update it. My bill of rights says I have the right to have a well regulated militia, and right to bear arms. To me that’s says I have the right to join a non government military, and have the weapons to do so. My arms is to take down a government that is oppressive to the people under which they server. There are many search engines that can help you find the 2nd amendment and what is says. It’s not for hunting.
joel, i wasnt using hunting to legitimize anything, if that the impression you had from my comments…
assault rifles and such should have banned decades ago…
what concerns me is the possibility of reactive legislation, unevenly enforced, turning pockets of the country into war zones…
Notice the use of ‘gun deaths’, which is mostly comprised of suicides. We get a different picture if we were to look at murder rates. For example, despite its high gun ownership rate of almost 60%, Wyoming’s murder rate was just 2.0 per 100,000 population. The murder rate for Illinois was more than four times that (8.4 per 100,000) where its residents are almost a third less likely to own a gun (20.2%). The same can be said for the murder rate in some other states with high gun ownership rates [like Montana (3.2) and Alaska (3.2)] and states at the other end of the spectrum [like Maryland (7.7) and New Mexico (10.0)]. New York (4.0), New Jersey (3.7), Connecticut (3.0), Rhode Island, and Massachusetts shouldn’t be bragging either.
What really stands out is the District of Columbia, with a gun ownership rate of just 3.8% and a murder rate of 24.2 per 100,000.
However, even this would be an inaccurate picture. How many crimes are committed by an armed assailant who never fires? How many gun homicides are gang related? Gun death statistics for Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska just point to hunting accidents. Their residents are more likely to die in a snow mobile accident and they’re more concerned about running into grizzly bears than the rest of the country as well.
In any regard, using ‘gun death’ numbers doesn’t do the debate any favors. We should be concerned about crime, not suicide, in this topic.
*Used the 2009 crime rates by states from the United States Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0308.xls
The chart you cited only shows murder rates and not murder or homicide involving the use of rifles or pistol of which the pistol is the weapon of choice. Both Scalia and Marquis used a similar tactic in conflating the percentages of people put to death who may be innocent. If you are going to discuss the topic, you have to use similar stats.
Secondly, when has suicide become a victim-less issue unless you wish to lower the rate of the mentally ill? That slightly over 50% again choose a rifle or pistol as their choice of assault does not cancel out the resulting death rate caused by rifles or pistols in suicide.
Thirdly, violence in the South and the West is greater than in the Northeast or Midwest states. Overwhelming the weapon of choice is a rifle or pistol to commit such crimes. Mostly, people are upset about assault weapons which in this old Marine Sergeant’s eyes you-do-not-need in your gun locker. If you hunt or target shoot like I do, an AK is not needed and neither is a 50 caliber sniper’s rifle. Understand what you are arguing here.
Forthly, many of the rifles and pistols used for crime are stolen from homes such as yours because the gun owner does not have the sense enough to lock them away. In which case, the main source of rifles and pistols falling into the wrong hands are the result of your portrayed innocent owner not locking them away properly.
Fifthly, I never went to elementary or high school where an armed guard was necessary. Since I am in my sixties, I find the Director’s recommendations ignorant and an escalation of the present and worsening environment. You have your atomic bob; but I, I have my hydrogen bomb. Rather than come up with a common sense solution, the NRA chooses to turn every school into a shootout.
If you really must fixate on shooting things up with your Bushmaster and AK, why not enlist and live with your M-16 or 14 like I did for a tour of duty. Get a dose of what combat is really like rather than be a wannabe good guy who saves the day. This rhetoric coming from the NRA is utter nonsense and it has done more to cause itself harm than any gun control advocates could ever do.
let’s give these teachers a gun:
The study I cited shows that an increase in gun ownership rates do not lead to an increase in homicides. The original post just states what we should already know; the probability of dying by a gun/snowmobile/lake increases when people have more guns/snowmobiles/lake homes. Or maybe you believe it’s best to live where you’re more likely to be murdered as long as you’re less likely to lose your life to a bullet.
Suicide may be a problem, but going after the method makes no sense. See the futility in making bridges suicide-safe.
You attack assault weapons, yet don’t acknowledge that Connecticut had laws already on the books that continued the assault weapons ban when the federal law expired. It didn’t prevent the mother from buying the Bushmaster in Connecticut.
You talk of guns being stolen from homes, yet that doesn’t prove to be a likely situation given the statistics. Otherwise, criminals are going against the odds in stealing guns from the few homes in D.C.that have them in order to commit crimes at such a high rate.
I served in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Noble Anvil. One of the duties in the latter for some units was providing security for DoDDS facilities and escorting DoDDS busses for students’ activities. Didn’t affect those kids at all. Plus, you need to get out more because things have changed since you were in school. About one-third of public schools already have armed security and President Clinton wanted funds to expand the policy.
My experience also gave me insight into how so much of the world’s genocides could have been prevented if a nation’s people were armed. It would have removed one of the main reasons our leaders put our best into harms way and maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t have to send our military all over the world to protect other people from the tyranny of their own government.
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A number of important statistics should also be considered to completely frame that set of statistics.
The first is this: how many people were actually shot in those states verses gun deaths?
This is important as I would imagine – given the conditions in many of the states involved on both ends – the quality and availability of medical care is going to make a VAST difference on survival rates.
Someone shot in a sparsely populated area is far more likely to be found dead rather than treated by police and EMT’s responding to reports of shots fired in an urban area.
In higher population areas there are usually far better medical facilities (with much better equipment and staff available as well) to treat people as well.
In addition, given the higher prevalence of people who are very familiar and trained to use their weapons for things like hunting, I suspect that skill ALSO has a lot to do with the death totals.
Gang-bangers aren’t known for their aiming ability. They generally rely on getting a lucky shot among a hail of bullets and as often as not a fatal or injurious shot is delivered to some poor soul some distance from the target who was just hit by a random shot.
A lot of the folks in the states with the higher owner-ship rates are those who are likely to be skilled and trained to use a lot less lead in taking out a target just due to the number of hunters.
An amazing statistic would be to compare by state population and ownership percentage the number of shots fired in anger verses the number of dead and seriously injured people WHO WERE THE ONES BEING SHOT AT.
Alaska and Wyoming are the two highest – very few people, very little medical care, vast open lands, a lot of really good hunters who are unlikely to miss a target.
Statistics are limited by the number of valid variables used to create them.
so kiam, bear, terry or whoever wants to answer this:
what happens if feinstein’s gun control bill is enacted?
it bans the sale, transfer, importation, or manufacturing of:
* 120 specifically-named firearms
* Certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one military characteristic
* Semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds
* Strengthens the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and various state bans by:
— Moving from a 2-characteristic test to a 1-characteristic test
— Eliminating the easy-to-remove bayonet mounts and flash suppressors from the characteristics test
— Banning firearms with “thumbhole stocks” and “bullet buttons” to address attempts to “work around” prior bans
* Bans large-capacity ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.
And more cars correlate to more car deaths. Congratulations!
And I recommend you google Ecological Fallacy before spouting more absurdities such as this: “if you live in a red state the odds of your children dying of gun violence is 75% higher than if you live in a blue state.”
Perhaps you could do a statistical analysis comparing relatively gun-friendly Denver with gun-ban Chicago?
Let’s cut to the chase. It doesn’t require a statistical analyses to recognize that there is no gaming aspect to gun ownerhsip that requires a semi-automatic, military style weapon. It is clearly stated in Scalia’s written opinion that certain types of arms ownership are subject to restriction by laws without being unconstitutional.
And to all those who suggest that gun ownership is important for self protection and that such personally owned weapons can be safely locked in specially made gun safes, what good is that gun in your safe when an armed intruder is in your home? Guns for self protection is an oxymoronic concept. Unless you’re planning to wear a teflon suit, that is.
Unfortunately when the CDC went to do some statistical analysis on the subject you are mentioning the NRA lobbyed Congress to cut off funding for the analysis.
There is no analysis around correlating to the number of guns in a certain area as opposed to the amount of violence occurring with guns. In either case, a casual relationship between more guns reducing violence can not be established.
“Rep. Louie Gohmert said that “every time … conceal-carry [gun laws] have been allowed the crime rate has gone down.” But that is far from a settled issue in academia.” While he is factually corrrect, he ignores other variables which may have impacted gun violence such as the lessening of drug enforcement/laws.
The econmist Lott who ascertains:
“allowing citizens to carry concealed handguns reduces violent crimes, and the reductions coincide very closely with the number of concealed-handgun permits”
Has been challenged by the: National Research Council, 2004: “The initial model specification, when extended to new data, does not show evidence that passage of right-to-carry laws reduces crime. The estimated effects are highly sensitive to seemingly minor changes in the model specification and control variables. No link between right-to-carry laws and changes in crime is apparent in the raw data, even in the initial sample; it is only once numerous covariates are included that the negative results in the early data emerge. While the trend models show a reduction in the crime growth rate following the adoption of right-to-carry laws, these trend reductions occur long after law adoption, casting serious doubt on the proposition that the trend models estimated in the literature reflect effects of the law change. Finally, some of the point estimates are imprecise. Thus, the committee concludes that with the current evidence it is not possible to determine that there is a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates.”
You arguent would have some credibility if you discussed long barrels versus short and magazine capacities. Factcheck.org does an excellent job of explaining this: http://factcheck.org/2012/12/gun-rhetoric-vs-gun-facts/
Jack’s comment (see below) on Scalia’s interpretation of the 2nd amendment is spot on target and holding black.
I don’t know how anyone can claim that Florida is a “Blue” state. The last three Governors have been Republican as well as the State Legislatures (in general). Hopefully “Flawridduh” will turn Blue again in the very near future. I was sort of surprised to see that our gun deaths were lower than some other states, what with our ridiculous Stand Your Ground statutes since 2005.
I will add what the most conservative member of SCOTUS has said:
“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” Scalia cautioned in his opinion. “From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. … For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues.”
Attempts to control types of weapons and who can possess weapons appear to be constitutional, Scalia added.
“Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our [majority] opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
“We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. [Precedent says] that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time’ [the Second Amendment was approved]. … We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.'” http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/12/16/Under-the-US-Supreme-Court-Scalia-in-08-Right-to-bear-arms-is-not-unlimited/UPI-80201355648700/#ixzz2IPrn7ZZO
This is a point which you, other members of the NRA, as well as the NRA itself seem to forget. The 2nd amenedment is not absolute and it guarantees within the constriction of that time period and what Mason and Madison were thinking at the time. Weapons in common use at the time were not Bushmasters or AK47s; but were more akin to bolt action rifles such as Springfields, Remington 700s, etc. The weapon of choice then is somewhat less automatic and difficult to load without the benefit of automatic chambering after discharge. Scalia appears to understand what the limitations of the 2nd amendment is
What non-military militia did you care to join? The Michigan Militia or perhaps the KKK which can be considered similar in the broadest sense. It always amazes me how people cite the wish to join a militia, why not a real one? Pick the National Guard and pick up your weapon there or go on active duty and do some sweating living night and day keeping that puppy clean.
It becomes an Oh God moment when you discover; Damit, they are shooting back . . .
Kiam, I think a wide-reaching federal effort and with much more money behind it would yield different results than a Connecticut (state) ban, in general, but it is interesting that on the surface the proposals made don’t appear would have avoided the Connecticut tragedy that is being used as a motivation for action.
mercdragon, keep in mind that it appears the military will always be much more powerful than any group of militias. Keep in mind our military is composed of Americans who live and share our culture and expectations. These aren’t Red Coats or an invading army. It’s a volunteer army anyone can join and check out (to analyze the training and mindset). We don’t have a new revolutionary government (if there was a revolution, many likely would have ended up with weapons already). For a government gone berserk, many current soldiers would turn against the government and would steal powerful weapons and know how to use them. I do agree we need to keep a check on government as much as reasonable (if we get bang for buck) so do worry about bans to some degree (as well as the liberty restraints for those who use these weapons safely most of the time). Of course, the military still outdoes us easily, and I don’t think people want “nuclear guns” to be widely distributed among the general population just so we could match the military. Then we have real devious weapons like deadly virus and other pathogens as well as chemicals and simple bombs many can make. Also, many victories will involve computer hacking because sophisticated logistics and weaponry will use microchips and networking to some degree. Finally, if serious restrictions on powerful guns (though hopefully not a 100% ban) is shown would make a significant difference in innocent lives saved, it would be hard for me to go against it. We always have other weapons accessible for serious reasons and lots of virtual games to keep ourselves doing interesting things for those who like to shoot at targets and role play.
There are many variables that can play a role if we want to discover accurate patterns. It’s like game theory, just changing a few rules (and each state has many different laws, cultures, demographics, etc) can lead to very different results and behavior by citizens (and deaths resulting from engagements). This discussion here hasn’t convinced me one way or another, although I lean towards restrictions on powerful weapons, ideally not a full ban and ideally with differences for urban vs rural areas and other considerations.
These two articles (and links within) covers some studies showing a strong relationship between lead (Pb) in the environment (gasoline primarily) and crimes. This can explain how independent of guns and laws, deaths could be on a down-tick nationwide (with differences locally that also seem to depend on lead regulations) because of removal of lead from gasoline and paint. Note that this relationship to lead appears to hold world-wide. Also, if lead can play this role, why couldn’t other chemicals? And of course, there are other differences such as the specific laws we pass.. and the number of guns.
The self-defense argument for powerful weapons is not that great. Someone already mentioned the lock-safety dilemma, but, really, if you feel you need extra firepower to stop x people with y weapons, you likely will feel you need that much more if the y they carry are that much more powerful as well.
I don’t get you reference to “powerful weapons”. A 223 is a pretty wimpy round, designed more to wound than kill for the purposes of war. The 7.62X39 (AK-47) is even more wimpy.
Past that, about half the hunting rifles in the nation are self-loaders and have detachable box magazines and virtually all of them are more powerful with a similar rate of fire as the scary looking M-15.
Then, the 2nd amendment has little to do with hunting. Whoever it was that referenced Heller above might want to reread Scalia on what he said about the separation of the prefatory clause and the operative clause of the 2nd amendment.
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I am not sure who is made this statement” You can quibble all you want about correlation and causation, but the simple fact is: if you live in a red state the odds of your children dying of gun violence is 75% higher than if you live in a blue state.” Whether this was Professor Wang or Mr. Roth?
1. the word violence does not include accidental gun shot deaths. These charts don’t differentiate between fatal gun accidents that happen out of a mere use of a gun during hunting or protecting livestock vs real violence
2. Suicide is not considered a violent crime as far as the CDC is concerned. So we also need to take into account the numbers based on suicides.
Violence is a very loaded word and should not be used to interpret these findings. In addition to take it a step further and mention the increased likely hood of children dying a violent death due to guns in those states is misleading and irresponsible. All you are doing is increasing fear and ignorance. Finally using the # 75% is very dramatic. It is better to let folks understand the raw numbers and see if the numbers are significant. The correct way to interpret the results are “The red states have an average death rate due to gun shot wounds of x out of 100,000 people while the blue states have only x*25% out of 100,000. The exact correlation and causation of these numbers have not been fully studied yet. Now that is responsible journalism.
Finally, you can not minimize the importance of correlation and causation in these studies. To do that is mere ignorance. I spend 5 minutes and came up with a list of 25 variables that could be attributing to the increased gun fatalities in those states e.g., economy, unemployment %, guns used for hunting/livestock, population density, other crimes, #s of law enforcement compared to population, % of mentally ill, type of background checks done, type of gun safety regulations in that state. I can go on and on and on.