Guns and Stats

The following is part of a discussion I’ve been having on the issue of gun control in the USA. Where

I’ve read the article, which appears to focus more on the left/right political divide in the US, rather than focusing on the problem of gun crime and how to stop it. The fact remains – the USA has a bigger problem with gun crime than any other developed nation – you cite Plano in Texas, yet ignore the wider, national comparisons – such as the USA having a homicide rate more than twice as high as France, and nearly six times that of Japan.

https://www.unodc.org/documents/gsh/pdfs/2014_GLOBAL_HOMICIDE_BOOK_web.pdf

Whilst it’s true that crime rates in the US have been falling, it remains true that firearms form a major percentage of homicides – in 2011, firearms were actually used in 68% of murders. https://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/gun-violence/Pages/welcome.aspx#note1

https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jan/10/gun-crime-us-state

It remains the case that US homicide rates, including those committed by firearms, remain substantially higher than in other developed nations – https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/14/upshot/compare-these-gun-death-rates-the-us-is-in-a-different-world.html

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/21/gun-control-debate-mass-shootings-gun-violence

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-34996604

According to the FBI, in 2014, out of 11,961 homicides, over 8,000 of those involved a firearm. Also note that this ratio of more than 50% of total homicides (in fact, we’re looking at two thirds) is pretty consistent from 2010 to 2014. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/tables/expanded-homicide-data/expanded_homicide_data_table_8_murder_victims_by_weapon_2010-2014.xls

So whilst in your initial use of the FBI data you refer to the rifle, but ignore the overall picture of how guns contribute to the homicide rate.

Let’s also look at legislation per state. Mississippi, as per 2015, had a firearm death rate of 19.6 out of 100,000 – it’s worth pointing out that these figures probably include suicide and accidents, however this issues only serve to add to the idea that greater gun control is necessary, to prevent these problems as much as homicides. (source – https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/firearm_mortality/firearm.htm) Mississippi also has some lax laws on guns (https://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/jan/15/gun-laws-united-states).

Mississippi is currently a Republican state. It voted Republican in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Let’s look at another state. Alabama. Again, 19.6 gun deaths per 100,000 people. Alabama is also pretty slack on gun control laws. Again, Alabama has voted Republican at the last election, and has done so since 1976. Another state with a serious problem with gun deaths is Louisiana, with 20.4 per 100,000. Once again, gun laws are weak, and once again, from 2000 onward the state has voted Republican.

Let’s delve deeper. Alaska has the worst mortality rate as a result of guns of all US states. 23.4 deaths per 100,000 people. Alaska voted Republican at the 2016 elections, and has voted Republican for several of comparatively recent elections (back to at least 1980, I stopped checking at that point). No licence is required to carry a handgun, even openly or concealed, in Alaska. So in fact, the top four states listed by the CDC site are all Republican states and all have comparatively weak gun control laws.

Make that the top five. Wyoming has comparatively weak gun laws, and has voted Republican since at least 1968.

Montana, similar situation to Wyoming, in every respect. Next is New Mexico, the first state to have any meaningful and recent history of voting Democrat. Behind New Mexico is Missouri, the first state on the list to have enacted any meaningful regulations. Missouri has a mixed voting history but is currently Republican.

So 7/8 states – the eight worst states for gun deaths – are Republican and the top seven states all have slack gun control laws. In many states, irrespective of their voting history, it’s the states with the weakest rules that have the highest death rates. You may say it’s not fair to include suicides and accidents in these figures, but if these deadly weapons were not so easily available, would the casualty rate be so high?

The fact remains (and it’s one you haven’t addressed), there are more homicides in the USA – substantially more – than in other developed countries that have more robust laws in place. You may point to an article on violent crime in the UK – are you going to compare the figures to Australia, Japan, France and Germany? Are you going to present the figures for violent crime in the USA, and the weapons involved?

The Vegas killer was able to legally purchase 49 weapons. Let that sink in. Why would anyone need 49 weapons, and why would this not somehow send up a flare to the authorities? The system is failing, mass shootings continue to happen, the USA continues to have higher homicide rates (both with guns and overall) than many other developed nations, and yet the focus is always on ‘Constitutional rights’. There are 59 people in Vegas, and over 30,000 every year, who pay the ultimate price for that right.

https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2016-crime-statistics

What the above link reveals is that from 2015 to 2016, violent crime in the US actually increased. I quote:

The estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased for the second straight year, rising 4.1 percent in 2016 when compared with 2015 data, according to FBI figures released today. Property crimes dropped 1.3 percent, marking the 14th consecutive year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.

The 2016 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 386.3 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the estimated rate of property crime was 2,450.7 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate rose 3.4 percent compared with the 2015 rate, and the property crime rate declined 2.0 percent.

All figures below are based on violent crime per 100,000 people.

Worst city for violent crime: St Louis Missouri, 1817.1. Missouri has weak gun laws.

2nd is Detroit, with 1759.6, in the state of Michigan, which also has weak gun control measures.

3rd is Memphis, with 1740.1 in the state of Tennessee, which again, has slack regulations in many respects.

4th is Milwaukee in Wisconsin, with 1596.1 reported incidents of  violent crime. Wisconsin is not noted for robust gun control measures.

Meanwhile, California, with some of the most robust controls in the USA, has, under violent crime measurements, four entries in the top ten for having low rates of violent crime.

The worst two cities for rape are Anchorage in Alaska and Cleveland in Ohio. Louisiana in New Orleans is 3rd and Minneapolis in Minnesota is 4th. All four states have comparatively weak gun control laws. Once again, three of the top ten safest cities for rape are in California.

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