Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

19 January 2013

Homicide Rates by Guns and Other Factors

There are often claims that there is an explosion of homicide by guns in the USA.  But the actual data are shown here for homicides and non-negligent manslaughter:

This data is from a report by the Congressional Research Service for Congress entitled Gun Control Legislation by William J. Krouse, dated 14 November 2012.  The murder rates and those committed with the use of guns are higher than one would like of course, but they are not exactly exploding.  In fact, they have been coming down.

If we just look at the murder rate by gun and exclude non-negligent manslaughter, the U.S. rate was 2.75 per hundred thousand in 2011.  But this rate varied greatly from state to state and region to region.  The list of states and DC with rates above 3.00 is given below from higher to lower rates:

District of Columbia, 12.46
Louisiana, 10.16
Mississippi, 7.46
South Carolina, 5.41
Michigan, 5.06
Maryland, 4.70
Missouri, 4.64
Arkansas, 4.39
New York, 4.12
Pennsylvania, 3.97
Georgia, 3.93
Tennessee, 3.92
North Carolina, 3.87
Oklahoma, 3.64
Ohio, 3.54
Indiana, 3.29
California, 3.25
Delaware, 3.09
Nevada, 3.07
New Jersey, 3.07

The cause of these major murder rate by gun differences by state and other local variations has not been much discussed.  There does not appear to be a simple and strong rule of thumb based on gun controls that explains this.  DC and Chicago both have severe gun control laws, yet both have very high murder rates by gun.  Maryland and New York have relatively strong gun control laws.  Many of the states in this list also have relatively weak gun controls.  Other factors are apparently at work and they ought to be identified and come under discussion.

One of the most important factors is also silenced by those who police the debate in terms of political correctness.  This chart makes it very clear that a critical factor relates to race and the use of guns in murders.


One of the popular exercises is to compare U.S. murder rates by gun with those of certain Western European countries and Japan and note that we compare badly.  The chart above localizes much of the reason for the bad comparison in the U.S. black population.  Gun control legislation that does not take this racial discrepancy into account is unlikely to achieve much.  One certainly cannot find a legal reason to infringe the 2nd Amendment Right to owning guns of black Americans, while allowing white Americans their individual right to gun ownership.  This is a problem that has to be addressed in a much broader context.

There is actually very little that can be done by legislation about the murder rate by guns.  The primary issues are deeply seated in various American sub-cultures.  Even such an issue as the effort to identify mentally ill people who should not have guns is a secondary issue.  It is one worth pursuing and trying to improve, but we should have no illusions that it will have a major effect in reducing the amount of gun murders in America.

1 comment:

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Karen Long sent me this link which shows that there is no positive correlation with the number of guns owned either:

http://augmentedtrader.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/guns-and-homicide-worldwide-statistics/