Monday, May 18, 2009

Gun Availability

The Violence Policy Center published the latest statistics which prove what many people already believed, that more guns means more gun deaths. In fact, I've always found it surprising that some people deny this obvious truth.

Washington, DC—States with higher gun ownership rates and weak gun laws have the highest rates of gun death according to a new analysis by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) of just-released 2006 national data (the most recent available) from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The analysis concerns itself with the five states with the highest per capita gun death rates and the five with the lowest. I've copied just the highest, Louisiana, and the lowest, Hawaii to show the difference. The national per capita gun death rate is 10.32 per 100,000 for 2006.

Household Gun Ownership 45.6 percent
Gun Death Rate per 100,000 19.58

Household Gun Ownership 9.7 percent
Gun Death Rate per 100,000 2.58

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “More guns means more gun death and injury. Fewer guns means less gun death and injury. It’s a simple equation.”

The VPC defined states with “weak” gun laws as those that add little or nothing to federal restrictions and have permissive concealed carry laws allowing civilians to carry concealed handguns. States with “strong” gun laws were defined as those that add significant state regulation in addition to federal law, such as restricting access to particularly hazardous types of firearms (for example, assault weapons), setting minimum safety standards for firearms and/or requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, and have restrictive concealed carry laws.

What's your opinion? Why do pro-gun folks refuse to accept obvious facts like these? Couldn't they accept this data and still maintain their position on the 2nd Amendment? Why is it necessary to also deny the obvious? More guns means more gun deaths.

Please leave a comment.


  1. MikeB,

    Since comment moderation is off, I'll comment.

    Why do pro-gun folks refuse to accept obvious facts like these? What facts? The VPC doesn't prove anything with its "study". They don't prove that "more guns more death", not by far.

    The VPC leaves out the District of Columbia that has a lower gun ownership rate and a higher firearm death rate. Wonder why that is?

    I've talked about this on my blog...a discussion you abandoned. Why didn't you follow up?

    The correlation with other factors is higher then firearm ownership rate.

    Let me point out how ridiculous the "more gun, more death" argument is. You have no guns in your home, correct? How many gun deaths have occurred in your home? Zero

    I have 5 firearms in my home. How many gun deaths have occurred in my home? Zero.

    My father in law has more then I can count (yes that is envy), and know how many firearm related deaths in his home? Zero.

    Now, look at some of the homes with no firearms, but drug usage, drug trafficking....isn't that house at more of a risk for firearm deaths then my home, then your home?

    It isn't the firearm, it is the other factors that make a difference. That is why we don't the "obvious" !!

  2. I've seen a similar study, possibly the same one--If I remember correctly if you went top 10/bottom 10, or top 25/bottom 25 states, or top 50%/bottom 50% by population, or include DC, the difference disappeared. Post-Katrina New Orleans is a crime-ridden hellhole, with an underpaid and understaffed police department notorious for illegally seizing legal guns.

    As far as weak vs. strong laws--I did the math on Brady rank and score for gun laws vs. crime rates by state, and found the correlation was near zero, and statistically insignificant--in fact, when I ran it again with DC included, the correlation reversed. If you care to spend 15 minutes on looking at the data yourself I'll be glad to help.

    We've talked about assault weapons, and I thought you wound up almost as puzzled as we are about how adjustable stocks and such made them more deadly. What aspects of assault rifles are particularly hazardous when compared to other guns?

    What percentage of accidents are attributable to the design of a gun? Most gun deaths are intentional. The more gizmos you attach to a gun, the greater the chance that one of them will fail.

    I've got a Ruger .22 caliber pistol with many of the "safety" features they want on all handguns. It has an integral lock like most recently designed guns. I don't ever use the lock, and I don't know anyone who does. I'd have to hunt to find the key to either of mine. These are totally inadequate to secure a gun, and if anything give a false sense of security.

    My .22 has a loaded chamber indicator that had to be redesigned because under some circumstances impacting the indicator could fire the gun. It has a magazine interlock that means the gun won't fire unless a magazine is inserted. I hate this feature, not because I want to fire it without a mag, but because it means I have to put a fucking magazine in it and pull the fucking trigger with the gun pointed in the air to take it apart for complete cleaning--How the hell does requiring me to put a magazine in to clean my gun INCREASE safety? I don't want either the ammo or magazines in the same room as a gun I am cleaning. Additionally, in many guns, the magazine interlock makes the trigger far less smooth.

    The California safety standards cost thousands per gun model. A difference as small as a stainless vs. blued slide, or a different color plastic for the frame may mean California considers it a different model, requiring separate testing. 5 guns are drop tested. 3 of those guns are then fired 600 times each. If any gun fails to fire in the first 20 rounds, or fails to fire more than 1%, the test is failed. I want a reliable gun, but an unreliable recreational gun is not an unsafe gun.

    I thought we had pretty much decided that us concealed carry holders are at least technically law abiding?

    Have we figured out how making the law abiding register their guns helps prevent criminals from misusing their unregistered illegal guns?

    Where is the logic in all of these restrictions?

  3. ...statistics which prove what many people already believed, that more guns means more gun deaths. In fact, I've always found it surprising that some people deny this obvious truth.

    For what I think is the third time now, we don't deny that "more guns means more gun deaths". We deny the importance of a distinction between "gun ceaths" and "violent deaths".

    If you bring "gun deaths" from 30,000 a year to zero, but overall violent deaths go from 60,000 to 75,000, you've lost. It's the lives and deaths that are important; fixating on the tools used is heartless and misses the point.

    Criminals and suicides use the best tools available to do what they do, whether it's a gun or a knife or a rope. And we have no good evidence to suggest that the "difficulty" of stabbing somebody or hanging yourself actually results in enough lives saved to balance the number of lives lost due to gun control's side effects.

  4. Why do pro-gun folks refuse to accept obvious facts like these? Couldn't they accept this data and still maintain their position on the 2nd Amendment? Why is it necessary to also deny the obvious? More guns means more gun deaths.It's because the "facts" quoted ignores certain data points, such as Washington D.C. and Chicago, and because they are only measuring "gun deaths". Justified (and praiseworthy) homicide using firearms are included and murder rate and violent crime rates are ignored.

    Try answering Just One Question,

    Can you demonstrate one time or place, throughout all history, where the average person was made safer by restricting access to handheld weapons?If you can do that then we can chat some more and discuss constitutional law if you want.

  5. Joe, I actually asked that question (with link to your page) a good while back.

    Mike's Answer: "Yes"

    and he didn't respond in that thread ever again.

  6. Good timing. This article explains things as well as I've seen it done.

    "Bloomberg's push to rid New York City of illegal guns has seen results. The number of guns recovered from crime scenes in the city dropped by 13 percent from last year. The number of people shot to death dropped from 347 in 2007 to 292 in 2008. Overall, murders increased from 2007 to 2008, but only due to an increase in crimes committed with knives."

    "but only due"!! If you are killed with a knife, you're death really doesn't count, apparently.

  7. "More guns means more gun deaths"

    And more knives = more stabbing deaths with knives. What's your point Mike? Also, show me actual EVIDENCE to back it up.

    if "public safety" is your issue why do you focus ONLY on gun deaths?

  8. Oh, hell, I'll give it a shot.

    Please check this Bureau of Justice Statistic page of homicide rates in the U.S. from 1950 to 2005.

    Please note that, after peaking in 1991, the homicide rate in the U.S. began a steep decline until it leveled off in 1999 at a rate not seen since the mid-1960's. Yet each and every year approximately three million new long guns and one million (or more) new handguns are purchased by American citizens.

    Thus your assertion that "more guns means more gun deaths" is mathematically refuted. From 1991 through 2005 at a minimum fifty million new firearms ended up in private hands (at a guess, an increase of something like 25% over those held in 1991) yet homicide declined from a rate of 9.8/100,000 population to 5.6/100,000, or 43%.

    Further, the corollary that fewer guns must equal fewer gun deaths is refuted by the example of Massachusetts. To paraphrase, their 1998 Gun Control Act has resulted in a decrease of licensed gun owners from "1,500,000 to 220,000, an 85 percent drop," however, "Based on incidents per 100,000, gun-related homicides are up 68 percent".

    So why do "some people deny this obvious truth", the "obvious truth" that "more guns means more gun deaths"?

    Because we understand numbers, logic and reason, and check the facts.

    Next question?

  9. Kevin - I have quoted facts ad nauseum here at MikeB's blog. (BJS, FBI UCR etc.) While he sometimes appears to take them into account they do not in anyway seem to have changed his viewpoint on the issue.

    Being anti-gun is much like religion that way. He believes, therefore it MUST be true. Belief is all that matters.

  10. Unfortunately, MikeB, the term "gun deaths" is the inappropriate one for this circumstance. Organizations like the VPC and the Brady Campaign use that term to describe not only criminals shooting citizens, but also citizens defensively shooting criminals, suicides shooting themselves, accidental deaths, and other similar numbers that do not belong together.

    When you get right down to it, it might sound uncaring and unfeeling, but accidental deaths are going to have to be thrown out right off the bat - every piece of technology on the planet has had "accidents", but they all boil down to human error. People are going to be stupid. People are going to have accidents. And I can guarantee you that out of the number of "accidental" discharges in our country, very few involved a firearm going off without any human interaction/operation at all. Once you cure the original sin of human stupidity, then you can start counting negligent discharges. (Or are you going to hold it against flat panel televisions that their owners put them precariously on the front edges of things, and then toddlers manage to pull those televisions over onto themselves? No toddler has died from such an incident yet (that I know of), but they are certainly accidents... but preventable accidents, and not the fault of the piece of equipment, but rather the stupid operator.)

    Likewise, suicides will have to be discarded. Those people will find some way to off themselves... that they chose a firearm is not a reflection on the firearm.

    And, finally out of my enumerated lists, defensive gun uses will have to be discounted out of the statistics as well. I am quite certain that the VPC included them for the sake of counting "gun deaths", but the fact is that a firearm being used to defend a law-abiding citizen is not a bad thing. In fact, that is the way firearms are supposed to be used - protecting people's lives, rights, and property.

    But the VPC would have you count all those events as broad-spectrum "gun deaths", and then categorize all of them as unavoidable, evil, and indicative of the bad-ness of firearms.

    Sorry, but that gos-se does not fly. And, in fact, as Kevin's information pointed out, the real facts point out a situation remarkably different than the one the VPC would have you believe.

  11. Even though Hawaii has fewer guns, it what few guns they have are killing just as many as the guns in Louisiana.

  12. Wow, another person who chooses to read statistics selectively!

    It IS true, figures don't lie, but liars can figure!

    Explain North Dakota, Mike. One of the highest in per capita gun ownership, but NO, zero,zip, zilch, nada, in gun deaths last year.

    More guns equal more deaths? Nope, numbers mean nothing in North Dakota. Maybe it's the cold weather? Yep, that must be it. If you have 9 months of winter, no gun related deaths occur regardless of the number of guns!

  13. Wow Mike, Congrats at getting picked up on some serious gun blogs on being a VPC parrot!

  14. MikeB likes to blame firearm owners for the actions of criminals. Yet he refuses to accept responsibility for the spread of child pornography by financing the computer industry.

  15. Or the fact that he openly admits to being an illegal gun owner in the past.

  16. I’m curious as to why anyone would rely on information like this coming from the bias of the VPC or other organizations like the Brady Campaign. They are clearly pushing a specific agenda and consequently their press releases should be suspect and subject to scrutiny. I personally would never get data or statistics on guns from the NRA, but rather use (as Kevin did above) sources not as susceptible to political, monetary or in-group bias, like the US DOJ/FBI or the CDC.

  17. Because MikeB's a 'true believer'.

    What's really funny is that Joshie denigrated the NRA for having NRANews to tell people what they want to hear. Then Mike goes and repeats VPC nonsense word for word.

  18. Why do leftists deny the extraordinary correlation between leftist governments and murder?

    Quite a striking correlation really, 100% I think.

    Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, the list goes on. And Hitler, yes he was kiddies, Hitler was absolutely a leftoid and not a 'right winger'. Guys who run the 'National Socialist Workers Party' just are not right wingers.

    So I'll take a heavily armed, American, gun crazy, redneck over the nicest, most polite lefty any day. Much safer, statistically that is.

  19. Mike: I'll be making my 8th trip to the National Matches at Camp Perry this year with the Texas State Team. We shoot the CMP week matches, then I stay for the NRA Championship. CMP week is shot with AR15s. NRA week is shot with mostly AR15s.

    So, thousands of folks from all over the nation coming together to stay in huts, trailers, motels and campers, all with one or more assault rifles. (Children too, with the same AR15s, on state Junior teams.) All of them with hundreds of rounds of ammo.

    How many injuries, fatalities, confrontations with civil authority do YOU think I am going to see when the most NRA of the NRA gather and shoot a hundred thousand rounds of match ammo out of their "assault rifles"?

    Well, for the last 100 years at Camp Perry, the answer is.......


    More guns= more deaths? Buddy, I don't know what to tell you.....

    I only shoot twenty matches or so a year in Texas and surrounding states. I've never heard of a firearm-caused injury much less a fatality.

  20. Michael said, "For what I think is the third time now, we don't deny that "more guns means more gun deaths". We deny the importance of a distinction between "gun ceaths" and "violent deaths"."

    Sorry to make you repeat yourself, it's not that I'm not listening. It's that I don't think you can speak for most of your fellows, at least not the ones who comment here. Most of them seem to deny flat-out that more guns means more gun deaths.

    What Linoge said seems pretty weird to me. Why would we want to speak about gun murders only? When we talk about gun violence and gun deaths, suicides and accidents have to count. Without the gun, gun accidents become zero, without guns, the suicides go way down because of the high rate of success when using a gun. So, for me, those count.

    The BIG QUESTION about where has gun restriction worked, has been asked and answered around here, but I think I answered that I don't know. I have a suspicion though. I think it's worked in the UK and Australia and many other places when you guys don't cook the stats to prove it failed. I think Kevin could do a great job proving all kinds of things with the existing statistics. You guys tend to do exactly what you complain about with the Brady reports and the VPC reports, which is cherry picking what to compare, spinning the thing to achieve the right results. And all the while you support the Tiarht Amendments so we have less available information to make policy changes and identify problem areas.

  21. I think it's worked in the UK and Australia and many other places when you guys don't cook the stats to prove it failed.

    Kindly elaborate. Every analysis I've seen shows that the rates of violent crime, murder, and home invasions continued to increase after Britain's restrictive gun control laws were passed.

    What leads you to believe that this information was tampered with, and what "uncooked" data have you seen that suggest violent crime and murder rates decreased?

  22. MikeB,

    If you think we've cooked the books, SHOW IT, PROVE ITIn every instance of providing statistics, I've SHOWN where I've gotten my statistics. I've shown the citation for my evidence.


  23. Bob, he hasn't proven a single point yet...why would he start?

  24. Weer'd,

    I know he can't prove it because it isn't true. You he can't prove it, the gunnies who comment here know it.

    Heck, probably most of the anti-freedom liberals who read here know he can't prove we've cooked a single statistics.

    I want to point out, over and over, again how MikeB accuses us of something but doesn't provide any back up for that accusation. Not a very effective argument on his part is it?

    I ,also,want to point out to everyone that I've challenged MikeB to a debate, repeatedly.

    Once again MikeB. Let's put together a 3 to 5 point discussion list. We'll agree on the points, write up our best case, PROVIDE OUR BEST EVIDENCE (with citations) and let the people see which argument has the strongest case.

    How about it Champ? Want to wrap up all the arguments into point by point debate format?

  25. When gun laws in the UK and US were similar, the UK had a much lower murder rate.

    As the US gets more guns, and more guns per capita, our murder rate has gone down

    As the UK reduces legal gun ownership, their murder rate has gone up. They haven't caught up yet, but if trends continue, they will.

    We have gained nothing if we merely substitute one form of violence for another.

    If we are looking at gun control strictly through saving lives, we need to consider several categories.

    Gun accidents are on one category, and I'll accept that they will be correlated with availability. Even here there is some substitution. Hunting and shooting sports are statistically safer than most other sports--If I remember right, bowling has a higher injury rate than sport shooting.

    When considering crime, we need to look closely at substitution. It does no good to reduce gun deaths and injury if there is a corresponding increase in other methods of death and injury. There is strong evidence that this happens. We also need to consider ratio--If restrictions primarily affect the law abiding, criminals may be emboldened to commit more crimes, believing themselves to be safer.

    Suicide needs to be looked at separately. I've got an aversion to "for your own good" laws for adults. Many suicide attempts are seeking attention and aren't intended to succeed. These skew the "success rate" numbers. I would also say that someone who attempts with a gun generally means to succeed, and would make the effort to find a substitute method.

    If gun control worked well, shouldn't there be a success story somewhere? Shouldn't there be at least one place with conclusive evidence? There are many places where it has failed conclusively--Chicago, DC, New York, various genocides. The gun controllers have excuses, blaming DC's high rate on Virginia, without explaining why Virginia's rate isn't correspondingly high.

    If you are going to answer just one question--Where has it worked?

  26. "If gun control worked well, shouldn't there be a success story somewhere? Shouldn't there be at least one place with conclusive evidence?"Yup, we should see obvious successes in places like MA, IL, Chicago, DC, NYC, Philly etc. Hell, the UK banned guns and they're a damn island, so why do they still have a serious violent crime problem?

    If gun control works there should be ample evidence of its success by now.

  27. You left a comment at my blog, so I'll cut-n-paste my response:

    I'll make you the same offer I make to everyone willing to discuss the topic of gun control: I'm willing to debate you on all of the topics you mentioned - homicide, accident, suicide, etc. - either at my blog (I'll give you guest posting privileges) or by trading posts at our respective blogs. I don't expect to change your mind, nor you mine. I do this so that you can present your arguments and defend them in public, and I can do the same for mine. That way, those people who have not formed concrete opinions on the topic can see both sides and make informed decisions for themselves.

    If you're sure you're right, are you willing to defend your position?

  28. *headdesk*

    MikeB, you are going to give me a rip-roaring headache. I can see it now.

    If you remove knives, you remove knife accidents.

    If you remove cars, you remove car accidents.

    If you remove televisions, you remove television accidents.

    Now, what is the one common thread between all those three tautologies, and even the one regarding firearms as well? I will give you a hint - it is not the object.

    The answer, simply put, is this: If you remove humans, you remove accidents. All of them.

    When an accident happens, it is not the fault of the mechanism that was involved in the accident - is the fault of a person, maybe not the person operating the mechanism when the accident happens, but still a person, somewhere. Accidents happen with everything, because humans are involved with everything. Thus, the fact that humans have accidents with firearms (or automobiles, or knives, or televisions, or any other piece of equipment) is absolutely no reflection upon the object in question. Stupid people are going to have accidents (and non-stupid people do too, occasionally), and it is immaterial whether that accident is with a firearm or a truck.

    The existance of accidents does not prove that a piece of equipment should not be publicly available. Period. As such, statistics concerning accidents should not be used to demonstrate that a piece of equipment should not be publicly available.

    Statistics concerning accidents might prove that humans should not be publicly available, but that is something you should take up with SkyNet/GlaDOS/HAL9000/WOPR/etc.

    Regarding suicides, do you even know that of which you speak? Firearms are almost completely restricted in Japan, and yet their suicide rate is twice ours. If people really, really want to kill themselves, they are going to do so, and it does not matter if firearms are availble to them or not. As such, the numbers of suicides with firearms are largely irrelevant - those people would have found other methods in order to end their lives, and their statistics would have been tallied in another column, that is all.

    Again, this is a problem of people, not equipment, and it boggles my mind that someone as mostly-intelligent as you cannot see that distinction. Of course, at this point, I am not ruling out willful ignorance, especally given that statistics disproving your entire thesis are disregarded as being "cooked" or otherwise biased. Yeah, because I am sure the FBI wants to disprove the VPC... Likewise, I am absolutely positive the VPC has never misrepresented statistics...

  29. Kevin, I'm afraid I have to decline. The reason is I honestly don't have the time to do it. I appreciete the offer, it's one that Bob S. has made a few times. I would also like to say, it wouldn't really be a fair debate, my being an amateur and actually a newcomer to the gun issues and you and your friends being true experts. It's one of the things I respect about you guys the most, you certainly have done your homework.

    Since my knowledge and experience is so limited compared to yours, I'd have to invest serious time in research and referencing just to make a half way decent showing, and unfortunately I just can't right now.

    Over the last year since I have become involved in the debate I've learned a lot. At this rate, hopefully in a year or so, I won't be quite so out-classed as I am now. It would be like my getting in the ring with the Pacman.

  30. MikeB,

    I haven't been involved in this issue much longer then you have.

    Your blog was one of the first two that I commented regularly on; the other being OneUtah.

    Go back and check out the dates.

    I'll help with any resources or research that you would need. I want to make this a fair debate.

    You've argued the points several times.

    All I'm asking is to put them together into a single coherent post.

  31. Heh, a guy who does 3 anti-gun posts every day, and who comments on a wide range of blogs discussing the gun issue, and "You don't have time"?

    Heh. No, you just know that you'll be called on your lies and misinformation, so you have to run away.

    Nice try. Also I called it!

  32. Soooo, you admit to ignorance, but that ignorance won't stop you from promoting "obvious truths" that aren't?

    You're right, we have done our homework. In my case about fourteen years worth of reasearch. You want some education? I'm offering to school you. I give cites to my sources - you're welcome, expected even, to check them for yourself.

    The only requirement is that you apply logic to the data that you are provided.

    Because "obvious truths" are a lot like "common sense" - a damned rare commodity.

  33. Sad thing is Mike is hardly an ignorant Man, he's just found "ignorance" a handy scapegoat to hide behind when he gets called on lies, misinformation, and double-standards.

    Also you'll not the volume of VPC and Brady pressers posted here. Mike Reads the Brady Blog and the VPC constantly, he's also aware that those who's only job is to argue this issue can't and won't either.

    So he just ran and hid.

  34. Kevin, Thanks for the offer. I've given you my answer.

    Weer'd, I'm afraid you're getting into that obsession of your again. Remember when you got into that one about my lying about living in Italy. You repeated it so much that one commenter on your blog said, "Wow, Weer'd, how d'ja figure him out, man?" Remember that?

    Lately it seems you can't write a comment without some little personal opinion of me, of what my intentions are, all projection and mind-reading. I feel this is getting into the "personal attack" category again.

    If you don't clean it up, I'll have to go back to moderating comments again. If that happens many of your fellow gun enthusiasts will cry, "Oh, shit, that fuckin' Weer'd, why can't he behave himself." Of course, Bob S. will quickly point out that it's not your fault that I put the comment moderation back on. That was my choice and everyone is responsible for his own actions. But I'll tell you this. You're the only one who makes me even consider using the moderation tool.

    So stop breaking my balls will ya? Please submit only constructive comments. And don't ask me if this applies to everyone or only you, you sound like my 5-year-old when you talk like that.

  35. MikeB,

    I'll ask if it applies to you!!

    Please submit only constructive comments. And don't ask me if this applies to everyone or only you,So far you've shown a dearth of "constructive comments"!!

    Mostly it has been repetitions of the same refrain "Guns are bad, People who own guns are bad because they don't stop bad people".

    So, how about following your own dictate and make some constructive comments?????

  36. "everyone is responsible for his own actions."Except of course when I and my fellow gun owners are responsible for the criminal actions of others, a claim that you repeat over and over again....

  37. The facts remain that this discussion is about INANIMATE objects! Not preprogammed computers either.
    It takes a human (not necessarily a thinking one either) to use this tool, it simply a tool - like a hammer or a car.
    Too bad those who wish to ban guns do not understand human nature......England banned guns, now has a growing knife problem. Hummm? Any linkage??
    Meanwhile, the 1st Amendment does not say one has to be intelligent to have rights, yet those folks seem to want to selectively apply the 2nd. May be there is a connection?
    Meanwhile, keep your bloody fingers OFF my private property!!!

  38. MikeB,

    I have a post up on my blog addressing the "availability myth".

    Certainly would appreciate comments from you.

  39. You're right, we have done our homework. In my case about fourteen years worth of reasearch. You want some education? I'm offering to school you. I give cites to my sources - you're welcome, expected even, to check them for yourself

    That's because MikeB doesn't want the truth, he can't handle the truth. What he wants is to remain willfully ignorant and free spread his bigotry to others.