Nice set of data points Annenberg Public Policy FactCheck.org.

Much of the rhetoric we hear is pretty misleading — gun violence, as it turns out, has actually declined in the USA the past several years — but still, it remains much higher than most other industrialized Western nations.

The full article is worth a look.

 

Category: Data Analysis, Digital Media

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

30 Responses to “Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts”

  1. Reminder: Our Comment policy is here: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/comment-policy/

    Links to partisan silliness will not make it through the filters

  2. Pantmaker says:

    Looking at the trend in murder numbers vs non-fatal gun injuries…looks like someone needs to spend a bit more time at the range.

  3. According to FBI statistics, Crime in general has been falling for quite a while now .

  4. Wexler says:

    Guns are the hillbilly’s mutual fund; they are buying them as investments.

    I think the gun industry does like $12b/ year…that helps Obama’s economy. Thank you dummies, you are being played…keep buying.

  5. Lukey says:

    Is it that we have fewer actual crimes or a lower incidence rate? If it is a lower incidence rate, could that just be an artifact of the demographic trend where the fastest growing population cohort is the elderly, who tend to be less crime oriented?

  6. Frilton Miedman says:

    Unfortunately, Isuspect this site I’m posting isn’t non-partisan, I did a Google image search for “lead and violent crime”, hopefully I get past the “filters” here, the data used in the chart is non-partisan.

    I could not find this information on “non-partisan” sites (if there’s a such thing when it comes to the topic).

    One of the most common effects of lead poisoning is a lack of impulse control,

    It’s also important to note -Although we have seen drops in violent crime over the last 30 years, we are still by far the highest percentage of gun violence and death in the developed world by a far stretch, the information provided in the opening blog cannot excuse this.

    I understand that correlation ISN’T causation, but this 75 year chart at the top of the page is uncanny-

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/01/06/harris-perry-guest-lead-exposure-in-children-correlated-to-violent-crime/

    If we’re the highest per capita in the world for gun violence now, I can only imagine what we looked like in 1970.

  7. Wexler says:

    I just learned what GYOFB meant! Thanks! :)

  8. retrogrouch says:

    For understanding the across the board drop in crime – see the Donohue-Levitt hypothesis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legalized_abortion_and_crime_effect that Roe v. Wade has meant less unwanted children to child mothers. 20 years after Roe v. Wade crime rates plummet. Same in Australia, same in Canada. And the reverse in Romania where they outlawed abortion and crime went up 20 years after.

  9. requiem says:

    Another location that appears to be fairly non-partisan but with a good collection of data is here:
    http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp

    Frilton: IIRC, Honduras is tops for gun homicides, at a rate something like 10x ours. We look bad compared to Europe, but reasonably good compared with many others.

    Lukey: Most numbers are given per 100k, which would be an incidence rate. Given population growth, a decrease in actual crimes would look even better in the incidence rate.

    Some other thoughts:
    A) Lacking the social services of other industrialized countries, and having greater income inequality (e.g. by Gini coeffecient), should we be comparing ourselves to them in the first place? What if we actually have a low rate given the culture/services?

    B) What if gun control is largely irrelevant? It would be like having people arguing over whether red or black is the superior choice on the roulette wheel, when the results are for the most part completely independent.

  10. RW says:

    1) this is primarily a public health and safety issue

    2) microscopic parsing of constitutional amendments notwithstanding there is very little to distinguish it from tobacco, petro-chem et al: we have an industry group attempting to forestall policies that could reduce its profits and extensively funding efforts to prevent or deflect those policies

    3) as always there is some minority convinced their ability to smoke, buy gas-guzzlers, arm themselves, piss on a poor person, etc will avert some version of apocalypse whether that be a government tyranny, social collapse, zombies or whatever …so see #1

    For all that it is terrible and destructive of our society and democracy there is something also very tedious and predictable about it; one finds oneself wishing the oligarchs had better imaginations.

  11. algernon says:

    Thanks for posting this, providing broader perspective.

    For a bit of insight as to the degree our problem is cultural, it would be interesting to see the stats for the Dakotas & maybe Montana as compared to the rest of the US.

  12. Chad says:

    The article on lead poisoning causing crime (I think Barry had a link to it in previous post http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline) really seems to hold up well as the main cause. The abortion theory has some small holes in it. Though, as with any issue this complex there are layers upon layers that are the “cause.” Making assault weapons and extended clips very difficult to buy would just be another tweak like removing leaded gasoline and allowing abortions. The ultimate “cause” for all this and every other problem is a lack of reason and intelligence.

  13. whskyjack says:

    The lead/crime article certainly explained a lot in re to the crack epidemic crime wave.

    I worked with juvenile crime in the late 80′s for 2 years(it took me 2 years to burn out). according to old timers who had worked in the system for years those kids were like nothing they had ever seen. It was during that time that I went from pro gun, no control to we really need to do something about this situation. Order and civilization became important to me than libertarian ideology.

    Jack

  14. stefanich says:

    This article in the WSJ reports that although gun murders have declined, the reduction in the murder rate can somewhat be attributed to medical science’s ability to treat and save victims of severe trauma such as gunshots.

    http://professional.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324712504578131360684277812.html

  15. Jojo says:

    Just make bullets illegal and most problems will be solved. Then gun owners can still own and collect their precious weapons but they won’t be able to hurt anyone with them.

  16. rd says:

    I was going to put the link in to the lead poisoning article, but Chad beat me to it.

    Two things jump out of the statistics above:

    1. Crime is dropping (it seems like the Pb poisoning may be the biggest single reason) and so are gun murders;
    2. More guns means more gun-related suicides and injuries.

    Suicide by gun, especially to the head, is by far the most “successful” method of suicide: http://lostallhope.com/suicide-methods/firearms/reliability

    If a suicide fails, then treatment often prevents further attempts, especially successful ones: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_attempt

    It seems pretty clear that more guns in the US means more deaths and injuries, regardless of what is happening with violent crime.

  17. Ajax says:

    Our problems go beyond guns, beyond culture, beyond violent entertainment. The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world (http://www.prb.org/Articles/2012/us-incarceration.aspx). I don’t see the benefit of bringing down the ‘gun murder’ rate if the murder rate remains unchanged. I think what this country needs is a policy change on drugs not guns. I’d like to see what ending the ‘drug war’ would do before we consider giving up on a 200 year old tradition of a civilian right to keep military-style arms.

    I believe that a safe and civilized society can also be an armed society. I don’t think the data show that the two are mutually exclusive. 2nd world countries like Russia and Brazil have extremely high gun violence even with near total bans on civilian gun ownership.

    I also don’t believe the 4th amendment is compatible with effective gun control. It may be that Japan style gun control is effective not just because of cultural differences but also because of a higher tolerance of police searches.

    Mainly as an American I want to be free, to have agency and to practice self-government. Gun ownership is part of that equation.

    Anyway, blah blah for what it’s worth that’s my view from here in New Mexico.

  18. DeDude says:

    Crime in general is down and so is gun-related crime. Having a gun in your house increase the likelihood of being injured by a gun (and the temptation of using it to kill yourself, if you get so inclined). So I think all of these numbers make sense.

  19. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    My concern is that I feel increasing gun ownership is only going to increase the likelihood of their use, especially with what I see as the more extreme gun-owners increasing their arsenal. I think the downtrend in deaths by guns is misleading due to medical advances in keeping people alive, as indicated by the increase in non-fatal gun injuries.

    Videos like this one really raise concerns for me. Is gun ownership about, “agree with me or I’m going to start killing people?”

  20. wally says:

    “but still, it remains much higher than most other industrialized Western nations”

    Too bad they didn’t put that in the chart as well. The other numbers take on greater meaning when you see how out of whack they are with civilized countries.

  21. Greg0658 says:

    wally you mean the countries with socialized medicine .. that safety net thingee .. that makes folks feel like taxes and the OpSys thinks they count for something other than shovel’g shovel ready projects from this hole to the next
    (UNTIL)
    they are no longer needed – then you get 18 months of a legal COLA plan – for a cost you can no longer afford

  22. honeybadger says:

    @Bob is still unemployed

    “My concern is that I feel increasing gun ownership is only going to increase the likelihood of their use”

    The numbers don’t bear this out.

    “Today, the number of concealed-carry permits is the highest it’s ever been, at 8 million, and the homicide rate is the lowest it’s been in four decades—less than half what it was 20 years ago. …Crime statistics in Britain, where guns are much scarcer, bear this out. Gary Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University, wrote in his 1991 book, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, that only 13 percent of burglaries in America occur when the occupant is home. In Britain, so-called hot burglaries account for about 45 percent of all break-ins. ”

    “But it is, in fact, possible to assess with some degree of accuracy how many crimes have been stopped because the intended victim, or a witness, was armed. In the 1990s, Gary Kleck and a fellow criminologist, Marc Gertz, began studying the issue and came to the conclusion that guns were used defensively between 830,000 and 2.45 million times each year.”

    “Kopel argued, correctly, that Florida, like Colorado, has seen a drop in crime since 1987, when it started granting concealed-carry permits—which suggests to him that permit holders are not, in the main, engaging in crime sprees or taking the law into their own hands. ”

    You are next concerned that
    Is gun ownership about, “agree with me or I’m going to start killing people?”

    I certainly hope not. Some more quotes from the article, which explain my view, that the right to bear arms is fundamental to democracy– it implies trust in your fellow citizen.

    “It’s more than that,” Kopel went on. “Telling the population that they are incapable of owning a tool that can be dangerous means you are creating a population that loses its self-reliance and increasingly sees itself as wards of the state.”

    James Alderden put it another way: “Your position on concealed-carry permits has a lot to do with your position on the reliability and sanity of your fellow man.”

    My source is this article in the Atlantic
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/12/the-case-for-more-guns-and-more-gun-control/309161/

  23. ToNYC says:

    Since a gun is a dangerous tool capable of harming both the user and target who have defensible rights, like a motor vehicle; the FTC should require Liability Insurance to protect the innocent citizens from possible injury by an item in the public market.

  24. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    @honeybadger – “My concern is that I feel increasing gun ownership is only going to increase the likelihood of their use” The numbers don’t bear this out. “Today, the number of concealed-carry permits is the highest it’s ever been, at 8 million, and the homicide rate is the lowest it’s been in four decades—less than half what it was 20 years ago.

    I agree that gun homicide rates are down, I even stated as much in my comment that you selectively quoted. However, lower homicide rates does not necessarily mean lower usage rates. Indeed, the chart at the top of this thread shows non-fatal gun injuries and assaults are up.

    @honeybadger – James Alderden put it another way: “Your position on concealed-carry permits has a lot to do with your position on the reliability and sanity of your fellow man.”

    I specifically mentioned the more extreme gun owners and their increasing arsenals, and showed an example. I’ve seen a pro-gun person on Fox News. At the end of his interview, he left parting words along the lines of, ~liberals had better watch out, remember, we are the ones with the guns.”

    I have difficulty reconciling those types of comments with the concepts of patriotism and freedom, so often talked about by gun advocates.

  25. whskyjack says:

    From a Mother Jones article

    “Since 1982, there have been at least 62 mass shootings* across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. Twenty-five of these mass shootings have occurred since 2006, and seven of them took place in 2012.”

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map

  26. lalaland says:

    Crime has been down since the mid-90′s, but it got blown way higher than it should have by crack. Once the crack epidemic died down and cities starting using data-driven policing, crime started to fall. Homicides are where they were right before crack started messing everything up, so it makes sense that they’ve returned to that baseline. Considering how many people are incarcerated, the fact that most of those ‘lows’ are in the last 10 years tells you they aren’t that low at all, and I’d wager less people die due to increased time-response and first responder technology advances as well.

    America seems to have a wide tolerance for daily, urban crime, but a distaste for mass homicides, so the statistics aren’t addressing the trickiest part.

  27. capitalistic says:

    Pointless argument. Right to bear arms is fine. The right to own an AR-15 or .50 caliber handgun is ridiculous.

  28. ZedLoch says:

    What do they mean by “whole story.” The chart tells me there is a ridiculous amount of violence in the USA either which way you swing it.

  29. CB says:

    So statistically ONLY 11% of the population do NOT own guns? With concealed carry permits legal in many states you have to assume a growing percentage of people are armed at all times – legal or not. Increased gun ownership and seriously increased gun manufacturing = jobs and a big US growth industry. So the corporate and political solution is: MORE GUNS! Jobs! Profits! Constitutional Rights! …Public Safety? not so much – too inconvenient.

    Increasing the perception of fear by NRA, politicians and media has obviously created a civilian arms race only exceeded by the expanded militarization of police (hey they need to keep up.)
    The long game of relentless corporate lobbying and constant media advertising eventually changed cultural beliefs, laws and behaviors – persuading individuals to exercise “gun rights and freedom of choice” which directly benefit arms corporations, lobbyists and politicians but is often dangerous for the individual and society as a whole. So now human progress in the US = arming more teachers and janitors? Really??

    @honeybadger:
    The right to bear arms is fundamental to democracy – it implies trust in your fellow citizen?
    Yes but you, me and your fellow citizens make mistakes every day especially in stressful and confusing situations requiring quick decisions. Apologizing later just doesn’t cut it with guns, yet pulling a cell phone out of your pocket has been ruled a perceived threatening action for justified deadly force more than once already. So more guns! profits! jobs! but just don’t make any threatening moves?
    And no more ranting on this subject from me – promise.               

  30. wannabe says:

    Sorry, should have been 4.9 million additional assaults if the US had the UK assault rate, I missed the decimal.