Skip to main content

As I was en route to searching for something else (mortality stats for the USA) I came across a recent article from the Guardian UK' "DataBlog". This blog has an interesting signature: "Facts are Sacred".

This was published just after the Sandy Hook tragedy as world attention was drawn to America's [pick one: fascination with/love affair with/addiction to] 'The Gun', not further specified.

Gun crime statistics by US state: latest data

There are a number of charts and a useful interact US map with state-by-state date. I am not posting the charts: the Guardian article is basically short and to the point and provides quite a bit of data at a glance.

Interestingly, there are no data for Alabama and Florida regarding murders by fire arms  for 2011. No mention was made of why this was.

The first thing I wanted to highlight is:

Just like the UK, the United States has seen a long-term decline in crime, with firearms offences seeing a steeper fall than other crimes
Again, no particular reason is cited for this apparent decline, but it is quite relative: There were about 10,225 firearms-related murders in the US in 2005
And the murder figures themselves are astounding for Brits used to around 550 murders per year. In 2011 - the latest year for which detailed statistics are available - there were 12,664 murders in the US. Of those, 8,583 were caused by firearms.
A slight decline. All other murder rates remained oddly flat over time: knives and cutting tools came in second, followed by "other" (no specifics), and "personal weapons" - hands and such.

Of course this slight decline is somewhat meaningless given that all but truly accidental or intentionally planned firearms injuries/deaths are technically avoidable preventable. The upside is that something somewhere is either working or changing: it would be nice to know what it is as people scramble to find solutions to both mass public shootings as well as day-to-day firearm crimes.

Another 'fact' or stat' the article asserted was the '89 guns per 100 Americans" number. I have no clue if that is truly correct or how one would arrive at such a number BUT I tend to trust it because I thought it was actually higher than that. For the sake of argument, I am considering it to be relatively in the ballpark. That is a LOT of guns.

The last graph is a state-by-state breakdown of firearms crime - crime, now, not accidents and I think suicides are not counted in this either - broken into a variety of subcategories.

Here in Georgia in 2011, total fire arms murders were 370, working out to be a 2% decrease from last year; Firearms were involved in 71% of all murders yielding a firearm murder rate of 3.93 per 100000; Firearms used in robberies - 72.48 per 10000; firearms used in assault - 58.64 per 100000.

You can click on the sub-categories and arrange the findings. North Dakota had 6 murders sending their firearm-related murder stats up 50% while Hawai'i had 1 - ONE - murder and an 83% decline. What's going on there?

California - with some of the tightest gun regulation in the US - lead the nation with twice as many murders as Texas, yet even this reflects a 3% decline in such crime.  Texas showed a 13% decline. No, really.

Connecticut, which has some of the most stringent gun regulation in the nation (WaPo) , has about 1/3 the firearm murders of Georgia, which wants to loosen gun laws as a result of the tragedy. It has a slightly higher rate of murder by firearm but HALF the rate of firearm-related robbery and just 1/3 the firearm-related assault. That seems significant....

There is another interactive map at the WaPo link which shows gun control laws stae-by-state: The map is

from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which is in favor of gun control. As you can see, Connecticut is ranked as having one of the strongest gun control regimes in the country, ranking in the second tier behind only California.
I highlighted Connecticut, of course, because of the heinous nature of the event. It occurred in a state with what the above data might suggest to be more effective gun regulation that my state (which, again, wants a gun leaning in every corner), resulting in far fewer firearm assaults overall.

So, all other things being equal (which they aren't) there do appear to be firearm regulations which do result in fewer incidences of violent crime and robbery with a firearm. Oddly, despite wanting a gun in every corner, if you use a firearm in any crime in Georgia, you face an additional mandatory 5 years. That's on top of any other sentences you might get.

The guy who shot all those children got hold of a gun in his own home and which belonged to somebody else.  The end result was a massacre and a suicide: a murder-suicide event. Though a rather eloquent article at Slate, Murder-Suicide Research Sheds Little Light on Sandy Hook, suggests it's just not so clear because it doesn't totally fit the mold. What I got from that article, which I suggest you review, is that he started this spree at one house, went to another, and then to the school. While that may expand the pattern for murder-suicide researchers, my guess is most would agree there were some psychological/emotional disturbances at work.

All this could be arranged to suggest that the utter portability of that semi-automatic firearm with its high-capacity magazine, helped facilitate and amplify an incident whose roots may have developed and festered over time. And the most obvious intervention would be to somehow limit people's access to large capacity magazines: it would be the simplest and most basic approach.

What I think the data in the Guardian article show is that, as we all know, America has 8500 murders via firearms last year, far more than any other country on the planet and we have 89 firearms per 100 people, far more than any other country on the planet.

Sometimes the data shows looser gun restriction lead to more crimes of violence and that more gun control/'regulation tends to cut down some to a lot on crimes in general.

But just as the car insurance companies can tell you how many red sports cars will be in accidents in February, they can't predict which cars will be involved. Accidents continue to decline because a a wide variety of ongoing interventions, curtailing drunk driving being a big one, but they still occur with great regularity.

Again, something is working in states with more regulation and this should obviously be studied.

NOTE: I feel rather in the middle of an imaginary spectrum of 'gun control': neither rabidly pro-gun ownership (I don't own real firearms) yet very wary of approaches that would be 'too restrictive' specifically because of the potential to encourage a black market, pretty much defeating the purpose of trying to make us all  safer. This article is posted in the spirit of trying to find that which really does work because something somewhere clearly is.

Please keep discussion civil and productive.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I think a nationwide Public Education/Awareness (9+ / 0-)

    campaign trying to simply drive down the overall number of gun-related injuries and deaths would not be a complete waste of time or money.  .  .

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:24:37 AM PST

  •  One caveat (5+ / 0-)

    I've seen far too many debates over the effectiveness of gun control laws that gets bogged down in comparing one US local or state law versus some other.  The big problem with such comparisons is there are no borders, no import controls.  Of course a city-law banning guns is not going to be completely effective in keeping guns away from criminals when they can just drive 20 minutes to the next county and buy the guns there.  

    Comparisons between nations at least avoid that.  Yes, you can smuggle guns into Canada from the US (and the guns used in our gun crimes prove it happens a lot, and decent gun control in the US would likely reduce Canadian gun crime too) but you at least have to risk a border crossing, a car search, etc.  It's not a trivial endeavour.  

    Gun control laws without borders aren't totally useless - they'll still have effects on gun suicides, accidents and impulse crimes of passion by previously non-criminal people, but no, they're clearly not going to stop organized crime or other people intent on committing gun crimes from getting them.  

    •  This whole debate leaves out things such (4+ / 0-)

      as poverty, which drives a lot of crime, the war on drugs, which drives a lot of crime.

      Hawai'i and Texas are probably quite different in a variety of ways.  But so is California and it has the highest rate.

      it's all quite complex and this complexity makes it difficult to come up with interventions that will actually work.

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:52:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The perception is that guns are the easy variable (0+ / 0-)

        One thing that is an elephant in the room: hundreds of millions of guns and tens of thousands of fatal shootings? That's a huge ratio. I wish everything in life were that safe.

        If guns cause homicides they are dismal failures at it.

    •  I once lived in a "bad neighborhood" (3+ / 0-)

      on the beach in north Florida. They called it "The Hill" and it was lower middle class/working poor with scattered apartment units for welfare recipients. It was famous for being an area where you could buy pot (all the way down to nickel bags) from just about anybody on the street. Mostly AA, a few scattered whites and latinos.

      It really wasn't so bad a neighborhood if you didn't mind people smoking pot (a truly non-violent high), and I looked forward to the evening appearance of the 'veggie truck' - a 2-ton flat bed piled high with fresh fruit and vegetables that would park itself in the middle of the street going one block at a time. That brought out most of the neighborhood, turning the block into a lively street gathering as people haggled over the price of oranges and collards and sweet onions while shooting the breeze with the rest of the neighbors.

      Then all of a sudden - like over a period of less than a month - crack cocaine was introduced to The Hill. At the very same time crack hit (it was 1986, shortly after the CIA was introducing crack into LA neighborhoods, as reported voluminously by the Rocky Mountain News years ago), all the 'usual' guys from whom you could get a little pot quit dealing anything but crack, and they ALL had guns. I would venture that not a single one of them actually went to a gun store and purchased their piece. They'd come by them the same way they came by the crack, and probably from the very same people.

      The sound of random gunfire became so common day and night that we quickly moved out. Before we left I told friends still stuck there that it was a dirty plot and to stay the hell away from both crack and guns. I doubt any of them listened.

      Point of story: the guns that so infest crime-ridden neighborhoods (gangs and/or petty low-level drug dealing) are most likely NOT purchased for hundreds of dollars by people who could pass a background check. Rather, they get them from whoever has decided to exploit them by luring them into prison. How many people get killed before that happens apparently isn't a big concern to the gun-and-drug-runners.

      •  I guess (0+ / 0-)

        But all those guns started out as legal purchases somewhere.

        Someone with a clean criminal record went to a gun store and bought them, then resold them to the dealers.

        Or, you know, exploited the gun-show loophole and bought them there.

        Criminals aren't stamping guns out of sheet metal in their garages.  They're buying them from "legal" sellers because that's the easiest way to get them.   The general lack of criminals with guns in the UK or Japan says making legal guns unavailable does a lot to make illegal ones very difficult to get.  

        •  Actually, I strongly suspect (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fuzzyguy, annecros

          the guns came from some police department's confiscation vault. Yeah, they're supposed to destroy them, but way too many find their way back on the streets. You're right that at some point in their history they were purchased. I'm just saying the newly armed young men in that neighborhood didn't purchase them, and neither did whoever gave the guns to them.

      •  Thus contributing to correlation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau

        The number of guns went way up, the number of shooting went way up, so statistics would show a correlation.

        •  Discharging of firearms (0+ / 0-)

          certainly went way up, but I don't recall a significant rise in people getting shot in that neighborhood. Of course, we left when the shooting started being regular, so it might have degenerated into turf wars later. Statistically unnoticeable in the metropolitan area, given that it was always one big shoot-em-up in that county (Duval). In certain neighborhoods, not hard to guess.

          The 'plot' I warned my friends on The Hill about was obvious to us, not so obvious to the locals (apparently). Get into crack and the next thing you know you're either in dangerous debt to a supplier with a goon squad or in a turf war for who gets to sell on this street or that one to the drive-throughs (almost exclusively white teens/young adults). Or, most likely, end up doing way too much time in prison where those who concoct 'plots' like this warehouse their ruined-life victims.

          It was very sad to watch, it had been a lively and fun neighborhood for all its relative poverty, the block party pot-lucks were legendary... Until the veggie truck quit coming around and everyone had to hide behind closed and locked doors because the street was full of punks with weapons they absolutely didn't need to have, and who may have never even figured out they'd been set up for the fall.

  •  Just remember Doc (4+ / 0-)

    Cannabis is far more dangerous than guns, that's why it's illegal (in most States). Further proof that our country is fundamentally irrational.

    "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 07:51:43 AM PST

  •  Yes, gun crime has dropped (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    implicate order, jck, Scientician

    You are correct that gun crime has dropped in the past couple of years.

    Meanwhile, gun injuries and gun deaths have increased every year since 2000.  

    And as you point out, insurance companies can tell you what kinds of cars are likely to be involved in more accidents.  But nobody can tell which specific car will be involved in an accident.  Similarly, public health researchers can tell you which households are more likely to suffer a gunshot injury (those residencies where guns are onwed and kept), but no one can say which specific person will suffer an gunshot injury.

    Because we can not know in advance which car will be involved in an accident, we ask ALL drivers to carry insurance as a condition to legally operate a car.  The insurance doesn't really reduce accidents in any way, but resolves some sticky post-accident social and legal problems.

    It makes sense that we ask the same of all gun-owners as a condition to legally use a gun.  Gun enthusiasts point out that such a requirement will not necessarily stop a mass public shooting.  They are correct, but there are nonetheless many good reasons to ask gun users to have coverage.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 08:04:14 AM PST

    •  Insuring would require registration (4+ / 0-)

      and registration is sufficient to establish liability, since that's the type of insurance you're talking about.

      Some sort of small policy would be feasible but further enriching insurance companies won't, in and of itself, help anybody but the ins cos'.

      Better yet are criminal liabilities: your gun was used in a robbery and you didn't immediately report it stolen - that should be a problem. Responsible gun owners shouldn't have a problem with this, since they are responsible anyway...

      Had Adam Lanza's mother survived this she would have been held liable as she was the identified owner of the weapon.

      Public awareness ed to help decrease accidents, as I said, can't be the biggest waste of money ever.

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 08:16:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How about a state-owned insurance fund? (0+ / 0-)

        Here's a radical idea.  Ask gun users to pay into a state fund, that is used to pay the costs of gun injuries and deaths: policing, emergency response, hospital costs, and costs of prosecuting and incarceration where a crime was committed.

        Currently, these costs are borne by tax-payers.  It makes sense that we ask the gun owners and users to pay more to cover thses costs, since it will be a gun owner who causes the incident that incurs such costs.

        Another way to accomplsih the same would be to impose a tax on guns and bullets, similar in concept to "sin taxes" on alcohol and cigarettes.

        that way, we avoid involving the for-profit insurance companies.

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 08:34:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  sure, I just don't have the impression they're (0+ / 0-)

          going to tell you that they saw it at the pawn shop, or whatever; I guess asking them to report might be a little hopeful

          human error never fails = : )

          by i saw an old tree today on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 08:53:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why a "tax" makes sense (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a2nite

            Imposing a "tax" on sales of guns and bullets is one way to recoup tax-payer costs of gun injuries and deaths, and does not depend on gun owners to report or register anything.  

            Tho" I would suggest that such a fee be levied on current license holders, as their license suggests they already own a gun.

            "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

            by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:04:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  suicides are the increase (0+ / 0-)

      guys turn 50 next thing ya know they're stickin a gun upside their heads. Something to consider before purchasing that first gun.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:06:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How many of those suicides are vets? (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, suicides make up a large proportion of the yearly toll of fatal gunshot injuries in the US.

        Currently, an active duty soldier in the US military is more likely to die from a self-inflected wound than from a combat injury.

        And it has been sadly estimated that one in five US suicides is a veteran (see Michal Moore's post today here at dKos).

        And lastly, the US leads the world in number of children under the age of 14 who kill themselves with a gun (USA!  We're number 1!! )

        Some gun enthusiasts have suggested that we should not count suicides as part of the total number of fatal gunshot injuries because people who commit suicide WANT to die.  Yet, as with homicides, suicide is a preventable death.

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:25:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Count differently (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KVoimakas

          people say "gun violence" to mislead others into thinking it's homicide, it's not, it's mostly suicide.

          How big is your personal carbon footprint?

          by ban nock on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 12:20:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Perhaps true (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ban nock

            I suspect you are correct that some people use the term "gun violence" when they mean gun homicide.  Perhaps they mean to mislead, and perhaps they are simply not being accurate in their language useage.

            However I use the term "homicide" when I am speaking of homicides, and I use the term "suicide" when I am speaking of suicides, and I use the term "fatal gunshot injury" when I am speaking of ALL deaths caused by a gun.

            "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

            by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 02:27:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  What's the rate? Population increases over time. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mildly Unsuccessful Lurker

      Last time I checked anyway.

      Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

      by KVoimakas on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:24:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nominal rate is steady (0+ / 0-)

        The gunshot fatality rate during the years 2000 forward has hovered just above 10 per 100,000, suggesting that gun fatalities as a proportion of the population have neither increased or decreased over time.

        Another reason why talking only about "crime" is misleading.

        When we speak of injury or death rates, to be complete and accurate we we have to include populations demographics in our discussion.  Factors such as gender and age are known to interact with gun ownership and use, and have changed within our US population in recent years.  

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:32:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The number of homicides by firearm is dropping (2+ / 0-)

          at least from 2007-2011 per the FBI: link

          Do you have a link to the overall rate for the last 10 years?

          Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

          by KVoimakas on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:37:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  CDC web-site (0+ / 0-)

            The CDC web-site has a huge amount of data on all kinds of injuries, including gun injuries.

            Yes, the number of homicides using a gun has decreased in the past couple of years.  This is a good thing we can all applaud.  Let us hope the trend continues.

            And because gun availability is positively correlated with both gun injuries and gun deaths, limiting the availability of guns will result in decreases in all gun injuries and gun deaths (i.e. not just gun homicides).  This is why placing limits and restricitions on gun sales and use is such a good idea.

            "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

            by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 10:12:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  OK I'm done. Forgot who I was talking to. nt (0+ / 0-)

              Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

              by KVoimakas on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 11:15:49 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  That's not what it means (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KVoimakas

              "because gun availability is positively correlated with both gun injuries and gun deaths, limiting the availability of guns will result in decreases in all gun injuries and gun deaths"

              You can't use correlation in a "because" clause.

              If you're right, then that's not the reason you're right.

              •  Correction (0+ / 0-)

                You are correct: I made a mistake.

                It is misleading for me to say: "And because gun availability is positively correlated with both gun injuries and gun deaths, limiting the availability of guns will result in decreases in all gun injuries and gun deaths (i.e. not just gun homicides)".  

                A more accurate statement is: "And because gun availability is positively correlated with both gun injuries and gun deaths, limiting the availabilitwy of guns will coincide with decreases in all gun injuries and gun deaths (i.e. not just gun homicides)".  

                You CAN use correlation in a "because" clause, so long as you are careful with your wording.  When two numbers are correlated, it is incorrect to suggest a change in one number causes (i.e. "will result in") a change in the other number.  It is more accurate to say a change in one number will be coincident with a change in the other number.

                I am indeed correct about the positive correlation of gun sales and the corrected statement above.

                Thank you for pointing out my error.

                "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

                by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 02:15:18 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  I've been seeing that date when I go looking for (3+ / 0-)

    other stuff on google.

    One way I think it could be improved is to look at urban/rural firearm/suicide rates.

    I saw one Justice Department source that broke it down by size of town. Center of large metro/large metro/over 50K people/Over 10k people/small town/ rural

    The differences were surprising and informative. Homicide is overwhelmingly big city, lessening in the burbs, tiny in the sticks. On a per 100K basis of course.

    Conversely suicide runs in the opposite direction.

    First have to identify problem to lesson it.

    I strayed from what your message is, which is that gun homicide is decreasing, and I'm glad.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 09:04:41 AM PST

  •  Cell phones, Freakonomics (0+ / 0-)

    I don't remember where I read this.  But if your victim or a witness is going to be able to call the cops within a few seconds or possibly take your picture; it will be harder to get away with crime.

    Then, there's the Freakonomics theory.

    Here is Utah's homicide report for 2012.

    I will a little surprised to see how often we stab each other here in gun-crazy Utah.  But our homicide rate is still pretty low.  If you really don't like someone, chances are; someone driving a V8 SUV too fast on black ice will take them out and get rid of them for you.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site