Monday, February 18, 2013

Do Gun Laws Lower Violent Crime?


Gun Regulations are big news right now. Of course, no one wants a repeat of Newtown. Bust, as always when it comes to guns, passions reign. The NRA shouts“Guns make you safer. Because the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” And the Left shouts back, “We need more gun regulations. That's the only way to keep our streets safe.”

Being a skeptic by nature,  I wanted to find some data to analyze. I wanted the data to be relatively clean, coming from a reliable, unbiased source.  Finding violent crime data was easy. The US Census Bureau provided some very clean data on violent crime rates by state.

I was a bit more pressed when it came to data on Gun regulations. The only place I could find online that provided a clean, easy-to-use “gun law scorecard” was the Brady Campaign. But Brady tends to be advocates for gun control. And, thus, potentially unreliable. But they did seem to do a decent job of quantifying the laws that a state had on the books. So, instead of raw scores here, I took a state’s rank in the gun violence score card.

The completed data table is posted at the bottom of this page.

The results?

  • There appears to be no correlation between gun regulations and overall violent crime rates.
  • A state’s Brady Gun Law rank accounted for less than 1% of the observed variation on violent crime rates (to be exact, .0.67%).

The results throw into dispute claims by both sides in the gun regulation environment... 
  • NRA’s claim -- “Looser gun regulations decrease violent crime rates.” BUNK. If it were true, we'd see a steadier relationship, with laxer gun policies leading to lower violent crime rates.
  • The Left’s claim -- “Better gun regulations lower crime rates.” BUNK. If it were true, we'd see a stronger correlation between strong gun regulations and less violence
Therefore, my research leaves me in a quandary. Because the data support neither side ....
 These results also square with the UN data which I analyzed and posted earlier that shows that there is no correlation between a country’s Right to Bear Arms and its murder rates.

So, it’s time to continue digging. What can we do that will improve the murderous tendencies we have in the USA compared to other rich, industrialized First World Countries? 

But until then, we have the clown show. The Right freaking out on Fox, and the Left wringing hands on MSNBC.  Which will, as always, be amusing be amusing.

Some other Factoids...
  • Ten Least Violent States (From least to most violent): MAINE, NORTH DAKOTA, VERMONT, NEW YORK, SOUTH DAKOTA, UTAH, RHODE ISLAND, WYOMING, IDAHO, and MONTANA. 
  • Ten Most Violent States (From most to least violent): SOUTH CAROLINA, TENNESSEE, NEVADA, FLORIDA, LOUISIANA, ALASKA, DELAWARE, MARYLAND, NEW JERSEY, and MICHIGAN


STATE GUN LAW RANK VIOLENT CRIME Per 100 K
SOUTH CAROLINA 22 766
TENNESSEE 22 760
NEVADA 29 742
FLORIDA 41 712
LOUISIANA 47 698
ALASKA 50 688
DELAWARE 18 682
MARYLAND 7 679
NEW JERSEY 2 643
MICHIGAN 11 562
ARKANSAS 39 552
MISSOURI 39 546
ILLINOIS 9 542
CALIFORNIA 1 533
TEXAS 39 516
ARIZONA 50 501
OKLAHOMA 47 497
NORTH CAROLINA 12 476
GEORGIA 22 471
MASSACHUSETTS 3 447
PENNSYLVANIA 10 439
NEW MEXICO 39 435
ALABAMA 17 425
KANSAS 39 425
COLORADO 15 392
NEW HAMPSHIRE 27 352
OHIO 25 350
WASHINGTON 15 346
INDIANA 39 315
MINNESOTA 17 312
MISSISSIPPI 39 299
IOWA 25 284
WISCONSIN 41 284
VIRGINIA 19 282
NEBRASKA 29 282
CONNECTICUT 5 281
HAWAII 6 281
OREGON  15 280
WEST VIRGINIA 39 280
KENTUCKY 47 263
MONTANA 47 254
IDAHO 47 247
WYOMING 39 240
RHODE ISLAND 8 228
UTAH 50 224
SOUTH DAKOTA 39 171
NEW YORK 4 139
VERMONT 27 137
NORTH DAKOTA 47 128
MAINE 25 116


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