Monday, July 23, 2012

The world of guns and more guns

The Guardian UK has an excellent interactive map that displays among other things gun homicides by country. Another excellent interactive map is The gun crime map of America. And Gun crime statistics by US state provides data on each state including statistics as to other methods of murder and other uses of firearms, e.g., robberies. It seems, although this year in Oregon seems counter, the fact is that gun crime is down.

Country Statistics - excerpts. Category headings separated with semicolons. Bold used as reference points to help in comparison. I will make a proper table later (maybe).

Country: % homicides by firearm; Number of homicides by firearm; Homicide by firearm rate per 100,000 pop; Rank by rate of ownership; Average firearms per 100 people; Average total all civilian.

United States: 60; 9,146; 2.97; 1; 88.8; 270,000,000
England and Wales: 6.6; 41; 0.07; 88; 6.2; 3,400,000
Canada:  32; 173; 0.51; 13; 30.8; 9,950,000
Switzerland: 72.2; 57; 0.77; 3; 45.7; 3,400,000
Sweden:  33.9; 37; 0.41; 10; 31.6; 2,800,000
Mexico: 54.9; 11,309; 9.97; 42; 15; 15,500,000
Honduras: 83.4; 5,201; 68.43; 88; 6.2; 500,000

Country, population (ranking), density/sq. mile for the above:
United States: (3), 83.38;
England and Wales: (22), 656.35 [Numbers are for United Kingdom].;
Canada: (35), 8.88;
Switzerland: (94), 488.20;
Sweden: (87), 53.91;
Mexico: (11), 142.33;
Honduras: (95), 175.98.

Statistics are often nothing more than just that facts that do not necessarily demonstrate any cause and effect. But the number of guns in the US is startling - 270,000,000 firearms. And there seems little statistical information to understand why the US stands out in the number of guns and number of homicides by firearms.

Take a look at Mexico and Honduras. Both have relatively high population densities. But look at the density of Switzerland. For Mexico and Honduras one might argue that it is the drugs.

If one just compared the US with Honduras - they seem contradictory in possible rationales. Honduras has a much lower number of firearms per person than the US - but the homicide by firearm rate is much higher in Honduras than the US.

Take a peek at the gun map in America. The gun murders are definitely not uniformly spread across the country. The firearm murders per 100,000 are high mostly in the bottom half of the US.

What might be interesting too is the use of firearms in crimes other than murder. See the companion story to the gun map in America - Gun crime statistics by US state.

State Statistics - excerpts. Category headings separated with semicolons. Bold used as reference points to help in comparison. I will make a proper table later (maybe).

State: Total murders; Total firearms, 2010;  % change, 2009-10;  Handguns murders; Firearms, % of all murders; Firearms murders per 100,000 pop; Firearms robberies per 100,000 pop; Firearms assaults per 100,000 pop.

Oregon: 78;  36;  -12; 20; 46.15; 0.93; 15.04;15.93
Colorado: 117; 65; -31; 34; 55.56; 1.28;  21.96; 38
Texas: 1,246; 805; -7; 581; 64.61; 3.19;  64.57; 61.65
District of Columbia: 131; 99; -12; 32; 75.57; 16; 255.98; 99.25
Montana:  21; 12; -37; 6; 57.14; 1.22;  2.04; 28.36

Of interest - the above state ranking by population. [Also see other ranking methods.] Oregon (27); Colorado (22); Texas (2); District of Columbia (50); Montana(44).

Other than the cessation of the manufacture of guns - gun control laws are not likely to work. It is not possible to statistically connect cause and effect of gun violence with gun ownership. The false presumption seems to be that if certain guns are outlawed or that guns be registered or requirements to own a gun are more stringent the crime rate associated with guns will go down.

Take a peek at this 2008 New York Times article discussing a Supreme Court ruling on Washington DC near outright ban of guns.
"Justice Stephen G. Breyer, one of the dissenters in the 5-to-4 decision, surveyed a quite substantial body of empirical research on whether gun control laws do any good. Then he wrote: “The upshot is a set of studies and counterstudies that, at most, could leave a judge uncertain about the proper policy conclusion.”
The title of the New York Times article tells the story: Gun Laws and Crime: A Complex Relationship.

Looking at the Colorado story - his ability to legally acquire guns, ammunition, protective gear, and the various chemicals and explosive material had nothing to do with his intent to carryout his rampage, that is, he would have acquired whatever he needed illegally.

Moreover he was apparently intelligent enough to concoct his own explosive booby traps with materials readily available to the general public.

The news media seem focused on finding a cause - an explanation that if known future rampages can be prevented. Take a look at the various inexplicable mass killings - nothing is similar. There is no single cause. There is only the individual that maybe the best that can be said is that each were hardwired wrong.

None of the above supports deregulation of guns. There is just no rationale for people carrying guns in a civilized society. Guns seem proper for recreation and hobby. Had other people in that Colorado movie theater had guns - the massacre would have been much more intensive. Not unsuspectedly people there panicked.

See this from Philadephia police chief:
You had tear gas in there, and unfortunately, many states, and I don’t know about Colorado, but many states that authorize concealed carry have no provisions at all for people to receive training, marksmanship, proper handling of firearms, or whatever,” said Charles Ramsey. “So now you got two people randomly shooting in a movie theater. I don’t know how that helps.”
We need a through introspective look into the underpinnings of our society. Why is it that we seem to need or desire to possess guns in such numbers? Oddly enough we have the technology to track not only the weapons sold but the ammunition. Might lower the crime rate or at least solve crimes more readily. See Firearm Microstamping; California legislation; Ammo coding; and see this conservative point of view.

To say that gun laws and crime is a complex relationship - is an understatement.


Gun homicides and gun ownership listed by country – Interactive Map
Gun crime statistics by US state
Gun Crime US Interactive Map
State Gun Laws
Gun laws in the United States (by state)
Hand gun law

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