Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How Would You Explain Louisiana's Many Gun Deaths?

Local news reports

The Violence Policy Center has just released a report that says that in American in 2013, Louisiana was only second only to Alaska in the number of gun deaths per capita. You might be inclined to put a positive spin on that news - because the last report from the group put Louisiana at the very top of American gun casualties.

The VPC draws a strong correlation between rates of gun ownership and rates of gun deaths. But that seems to be a rather obvious point: sort of like saying that the number of children drowning inside their homes increased with indoor plumbing. It's not necessarily shocking that the number of gun deaths in a state jibe somewhat with the number of guns owned by residents of that state.

Besides, relative to the other states that lead the nation in gun deaths, Louisiana's gun-ownership rate is low.  With a 45.6 percent rate of household gun ownership, Louisiana trails Wyoming, Mississippi and Alabama. Yet it has more gun deaths than all of them.

So, assuming the accuracy of the figures the Violence Policy Center is using, there's something other than the mere presence of guns that's driving deaths from guns.

What is it? I'm sure folks here - at least when they feel safe in doing so - would say that it's the presence of black people that drives up the rate of gun deaths. But there aren't many black folks in Alaska - only 3.9 percent. And black people make up only 1.7 percent of the population in Wyoming, the state that rounds out the top five in gun deaths. The presence of those two states on the list should help us talk about guns and gun deaths in a way that doesn't fixate on supposed black pathology.


  1. Mike, you haven’t been doing a good job lately of avoiding the “gun death” correlations that gun control studies are usually based on. Do you remember when you said this?

    MikeB (11/29/2013): “I don't remember it quite like that, TS. I thought I got your point about the "gun murder" trick right away, but I wouldn't swear to it. In either case I have you to thank for that. I often see gun control arguments that contain that flaw and I avoid them now.”

    1. Yeah, I get it. But this article has some interesting comparisons between Louisiana and some of the other high gun states.

  2. Well, lets take a look. The CDC gives us these numbers for Louisiana.

    Homicide 446
    Suicide 408
    Accident 19
    Legal Intervention 6

    Predictably, the majority of the homicides are in the city centers and a good number are likely gang related.

    1. I don't know it that's ncessarily true, but even if it is, so what. Don't those count?

    2. Of course they count, but they do indicate as to WHY you have the numbers that are there. Then if you do something about the WHY, would that not stand to reason that the numbers could get lower?

    3. Keep manipulating those numbers maybe you can make all gun deaths and injuries disappear.

    4. It's about gun availability. That counts for gang shootings for negligence and for suicides.