Correlating Homicide with Gun Ownership

There is no obvious correlation between gun ownership and murder, either among US states or among European countries or among other countries of the world. Guns aren’t the main variable.

Between western Europe and the US, it is the main variable. That is the point. As they pointed out in the comparison between London and other US cities. The number of robberies and muggings was not all that different. The key difference was the robberies turned into murder in the US due to prevalence of guns.

But of course if you compare the US and South America or the Caribbean then weak institutions, poverty and inequality will be more important factors.

This is like comparing pot plants of different height and development. If some plants are starved for water, then that will be the main differentiating factor and not soil quality. However if all plants get plenty of water then soil quality may be the key differentiating factor.

And if water and soil is equally good for all plants, then genetics may be the key differentiating factor.

What you are doing is the same as looking at a large population of plants and saying soil quality is of no importance, but it only looks that way because lack of water is the primary problem stunting growth. What me, Vox, New York Times etc is essentially saying is that when you compare plants with equally good access to water, then soil quality will be the key differentiating factor.

I did continue from there to show that murder rates are correlated with poverty rates, the racial mix of a state, and educational outcomes.

And you keep ignoring my counterpoint that comparisons between US states are pointless. The borders are open. Guns flow in unhindered. This is even a problem where border do exist. Just being close to the US is a major amplifier in violence. 60% of guns used by Canadian criminals come from the US. The Mexican drug cartels are armed almost entirely by guns smuggled out from the US.

There is a good chance that the US itself is a major factor in driving violence in South America and the Caribbean by keeping the flow of guns going. If the US border is not very effective in stopping guns flowing into Canada and Mexico then obviously state gun legislation in the US, is next to pointless. And hence your statistics on the matter is pointless.

Although I do think gun regulation probably has some effect in the US. But that would be hard to measure with your linear regression, because the states which have the most gun crime are likely to institute the strictest gun laws. Hence in many ways strict gun laws should be correlated with more gun crime, not less.

Thus to actually be able to properly analyze the effect of gun regulation in the US, you would have to find a group of states which diverged on gun regulation over time. Then check whether states which implemented stricter gun regulation would see a smaller rise in crime than those that didn’t.

Now, I am not a professional statisticians so there may be more factors to take into account. But I am just giving you one suggestion for why your simple analysis will not cut it, and you need something more advanced.

But to stress this once more. I don’t necessarily expect to see a big difference from this, simply because borders are open between states. One could perhaps find a way of evaluating this by looking at statistics over the origin of guns involved in crime in states with strict gun laws. My prediction would be that guns are more likely to be out of state. That is if the gun regulations are meaningful. My impression is that there are basically no states with strict gun regulation in the US. There are just states with very lax laws and states with less lax laws. Either way getting a gun isn’t very hard.

Since there’s an impasse on getting gun control in America, we could instead focus on reducing violent crime, reducing income inequality

I would be very much in favor of that. I am after all a social democrat. But as far as I see it, this is about what you can do in the short term. Stricter gun regulation is something which can have an effect much more quickly. Solving Americas inequality, poverty and mental health problems is a longer term project. And ironically the ones who are against gun regulation are even more against anything that smell of social democracy.

Getting a conservative to agree to stricter gun laws or a more taxes is a hard call.

and directing public safety interventions towards the black community — for instance, policing black neighborhoods more, to make them safer, rather than less.

Unless you deal with police brutality and institutionalized racism in the US, this cannot work. You cannot even call the police for a wellness check while being black without risking that the person you need checked on isn’t beaten or killed. The African-American population will simply view a stronger police presence as an occupying force. If you want real change, you need police reform.

You also need profound legal reform in the US. In the US you are turned into a criminal over nothing and put into a hellish prison system which spit you out again later as a hardened violent and dangerous person.

One of the reason I left the US, was due to the feeling of living in a police state. Every small transgression seems to result in a heavy handed response.

It is my belief that the US police and justice system is as much a producer of crime as a solver of crime. Soft drugs, prostitution etc needs to be decriminalized. Sentencing reduced.

Based on correlations, I would expect that murder will increase with higher inequality, higher percentage of African immigrants, higher violent crime rates, and perhaps more weakly with prevalence of guns.

Why pick a divisive metric such as race, when poverty, education etc would be equally good in making predictions? Hell even something as problematic as IQ tests would be a better metric. Making these conclusions based on race easily has bad consequences. An black person who would obviously do well in a country due to say education level, achievements etc would be denied entry on the grounds that “black people are criminals.”

I am not a professional criminologist. But if your Vox inspired model of guns causing crime is disprovable with a few minutes of work in excel, I feel comfortable saying it’s basically trash.

Except it wasn’t. Their models was better than yours IMHO. They took into account countries being different. You didn’t.

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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