Tuesday, March 12, 2013

An Argument for Gun Registration


California is the only state that tracks and disarms people with legally registered guns who have lost the right to own them, according to Attorney General Kamala Harris. Almost 20,000 gun owners in the state are prohibited from possessing firearms, including convicted felons, those under a domestic violence restraining order or deemed mental unstable. 

“What do we do about the guns that are already in the hands of persons who, by law, are considered too dangerous to possess them?” Harris said in a letter to Vice President Joe Biden after a Connecticut school shooting in December left 26 dead. She recommended that Biden, heading a White House review of gun policy, consider California as a national model. 

As many as 200,000 people nationwide may no longer be qualified to own firearms, according to Garen Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. Other states may lack confiscation programs because they don’t track purchases as closely as California, which requires most weapons sales go through a licensed dealer and be reported.


  1. The key word in all that is confiscation. If you believe that confiscation won't be extended to all gun owners, you have too much faith in government and in your fellow gun control freaks.

  2. So your argument is that it helps with confiscations. Got it.

  3. Mike, since our thread is quite stale, I am moving this discussion up here (it’s important that we hash this out once and for all). The discussion is on “gun death” vs. murder rates as a viable metric continuing on from here:


    You said this: Would you show me that again? Or provide a link to your "proof."

    I imagine you did some cherry picking in order to come up with it, but I don't remember.

    The idea that by removing guns from the equation, murderers use other tools and there is NO diminished is absurd. Please show me the "proof."

    I did not do any cherry picking. The data I used was for every state in the union, though it is omitting DC. That’s a good thing for you. For this round, I’ll add in DC separately to show you what it does to the numbers. DC stands out because it is entirely urban, while the states encompass a range of demographics. Cities in general will have lower gun ownership and higher crime rates than the countryside, so I don’t object to looking at data without DC to make the broader point regarding the effectiveness of gun control.

    I originally posted my results on this thread:


    I’ll also post the main body of text from that post as a reply right here, so you don’t have to dig so hard, but I do encourage you to read the whole thread. Notice how Laci falls into “Homer Simpson Sarcasm Mode”, but never address the data. He’s got nothing. So what do you have, Mike?

    The summary of the data looks like this. On one side of the comparison we has two sets of data both provided by gun control organizations: gun ownership by state (LCAV) and strength of gun laws rating (Brady Campaign). We’ll compare both of those to “gun death” rates, murder rates, and suicide rates to show you the difference. You’ll even see not everything works out in my favor (data is data- I am not trying to manipulate anything. If you doubt me we’ll figure out a way for you to double check my work) In my previous post I didn’t include the Pearson coefficient for “gun deaths”, but it is important to show the actual disparity, so I added that for this round:

    Ownership rates vs. Gun Deaths: 0.602554 (a solid correlation- this is what LCAV touts)
    Brady score vs. Gun Deaths: -0.56651 (again, a solid correlation. You guys want this number to be negative so you can conclude, “When the laws get tougher with a higher BC score, gun deaths go down-hurray!”)

    Now, watch what happens when we substitute “gun deaths” for murder rates (i.e. actually making a difference):

    Ownership rates vs. murder rates: -0.08935 (no correlation)
    Brady score vs. murder rates: -0.05032 (no correlation)

    And by the way, here is what the numbers look like when you include DC (Brady doesn’t rate it, but given that DC has every law they ask for and then some, I’ll assume a score of 100):

    Ownership rates vs. Gun Deaths: 0.313752
    Brady score vs. Gun Deaths: -0.14131 (even this is falling into “no correlation” territory)
    Ownership rates vs. murder rates: -0.31318 (bad for you)
    Brady score vs. murder rates: 0.356601 (bad for you)

    Yikes! But, again, I don’t have a problem with leaving this out as we want a mix of rural demographics in each data set to eliminate the urban violence variable as much as possible.

    Ok, Mike, you’ve had your refresher on this topic, so what say you? You said the idea is “absurd” that murder rates wouldn’t be affected, which means you are hanging your hat on it.

    1. I can't follow it, sorry.

      "Ownership rates vs. Gun Deaths: 0.602554 (a solid correlation- this is what LCAV touts)
      Brady score vs. Gun Deaths: -0.56651 (again, a solid correlation. "

      In this part for example, are you talking about a particular state? When you say ownership rates vs. gun deaths, what does that mean exactly? Are you dividing one by the other? Can you say it in plain English?

      I swear I'm not playing hard to get. I really don't get it.

    2. No problem. I used Pearson coefficients (it's available as a function in Excel) to show a correlation between two sets of data. A perfect correlation would be a 1.0. This means as one number goes up, so does the other- for every compared data point. It doesn’t matter what the values of the numbers are, just whether or not they follow each other. A perfect inverse correlation would be -1.0 (when one set goes up, the other goes down). 0.0 would mean the two sets of data have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

      Ownership rates vs. Gun Deaths: 0.602554

      This number is the Pearson coefficient comparing two data sets of 50 data points each. In one table we have gun ownership rates for every state in the union. In the other table we have gun death rates for every state in the union (matched to the corresponding ownership rate). This is the number that your side touts. It basically says, where there are more guns, more people die by guns. That “by guns” part is what I have been objecting to for years. It is a “no-duh”. Similarly we can say where there are more alligators, more people die from alligators. Additionally, this doesn’t show the good value of guns. It also holds true that where there are more guns, more people defend themselves with guns. Again… no-duh, right? Neither of those statements alone indicate whether or not guns are harmful or beneficial to society because they both look at just one side of the coin.

      Ownership rates vs. murder rates: -0.08935

      This number has the same table on one side (gun ownership rates), but substitutes “gun deaths” for murder rates, and we see that solid correlation of 0.60 drops to zero. This means they are not related at all. No correlation. Random. You said it would be absurd that these numbers wouldn’t be related, so you’ve acknowledged that it is vital for defending the notion that gun control works. So that kind of puts you in a pickle.

      I also ran those calculations with Brady scores, and then again did ownership rates and Brady scores vs. violent crime rates and suicide rates, and you cxan see all those numbers in this thread.

    3. Thanks, TS, for the patience and the explanation. I think I understand a bit better what you've done, but I know it'll come as no surprise to you, I'm not convinced.

      Wouldn't comparing the murder rate between high gun states and low gun states be a bit more straightforward and informative? I believe it's been done and shows a general correlation favoring my side of the argument. There are exceptions, but overall more guns means more murders - not just gun murders.

      By the way, I agree with you totally that limiting the analysis to gun murders is deceptive.

    4. Mikeb, that's what he did. He compared overall murder rates to rates of gun ownership. Can't you read?

    5. Mike: “Wouldn't comparing the murder rate between high gun states and low gun states be a bit more straightforward and informative?”

      That is EXACTLY what I did. The calculation combines data between all 50 states showing how gun presence or gun laws relate to murder rates, and it spits out one easy to understand number of how well they relate.

      Mike: “I believe it's been done and shows a general correlation favoring my side of the argument.”

      And those used “gun death” instead of murder. Seriously, go back and look at every case you are thinking of.

      You can’t argue with my methods because I used the same methods that LCAV and Brady Campaign used to show correlation in your favor. I just substituted “gun deaths” for murder rates and the correlation went away.

    6. Mike: “Wouldn't comparing the murder rate between high gun states and low gun states be a bit more straightforward and informative?”

      Maybe this is what you are asking. It is not nearly as comprehensive but it is just taking the average murder rates of the top 10 gun owning states vs the bottom 10 gun owning states. You lose: 3.80 to 4.24. You’re better off with my Pearson calculation of zero relationship.

      WY 62.8 2.4
      MT 61.4 2.9
      AK 60.6 3.1
      SD 59.9 2.6
      AR 58.3 6.2
      WV 57.9 4.6
      AL 57.2 6.9
      ID 56.8 1.4
      MS 54.3 6.4
      ND 54.3 1.5

      AVG 3.8

      HA 9.7 1.7
      NJ 11.3 3.7
      MD 12.8 7.7
      RI 13.3 2.9
      CT 16.2 3
      NY 18.1 4
      CA 19.5 5.3
      IL 19.7 6
      MA 22.1 2.6
      FL 26 5.5

      AVG 4.24

    7. If you wouldn't mind, please tell me what those numbers are and where they came from and what the average is.

    8. You know why it cannot be that states with fewer guns have a higher murder rate? Because most murders are committed with guns.

      Doesn't that make sense?

    9. Begging the question Mikey. TS ran the numbers, showed that you are wrong, and what did you do? Asserted that his numbers can't possibly be right because your construct must be true.

      Weak Sauce!

    10. Mike: “If you wouldn't mind, please tell me what those numbers are and where they came from and what the average is.”
      The first column is the gun ownership rate touted by LCAV (they’re on your side). I doubt they did the survey, but these are the numbers that they used when they released their “gun death” study. The first 10 states I listed are the highest gun owning states in order. The second column is the state’s murder rate for 2009- taken from the FBI UCR. The average homicide rate for those 10 states is 3.80/100,000.

      The next data set is the bottom 10 gun owning states sorted from the lowest. Their average murder rate is 4.24/100,000

      MikeB: “You know why it cannot be that states with fewer guns have a higher murder rate? Because most murders are committed with guns.”

      It can be that way because it is that way. Unless you are doubting the FBI numbers, or the LCAV survey (which will have high variation), or the Brady’s ability to interpret law and rate states. What is not to believe at this point? You said you are having trouble accepting this because most murders are committed with guns. Yes, that’s true- and these murder rates are true as well (keep in mind it is ~60% of murders, not 90%, so the non-gun murders can most definitely change the balance). You can still have murder rates that are unrelated to gun ownership. There are many reasons that could explain it- the most obvious is that not all gun owners are trying to kill people. Gun ownership ≠ Murder. If you think about it, this is at the core of your argument. If God conducted an experiment on this with two petri dishes full of homicidal maniacs, and introduced guns to one of them- yeah we would surely see a higher murder rate with the gun dish. If he conducts that experiment with only normal well-adjusted people, they would both have the same murder rate: zero.

      Second, you have to look at the scale of both of these numbers. One the left is the gun ownership rate for an entire state. For larger states, this total is in the millions. On the right is the murder rate per one hundred thousand. It is orders of magnitude smaller. As Greg perpetually points out (and as described in my first point), it is a very small percentage of the guns that are doing the killing. It is easy to see how the bad guys (the ones who are trying to kill people) have all the guns they need in every state. Since the vast majority of people are not murderers, that ownership rate reflects the percentage of good people who are armed.

      Which leads into my last point, and I know you’ll have a harder time accepting this. That maybe, just maybe, guns have a positive contribution to society too- that armed citizens can be an active, and passive deterrent to crime.

      I am just offering explanations. Why do you think the murder numbers are not what you expected?

    11. TS, it's usually at about this point that the crickets can be heard. Now, there's always a reason for the lack of a reply and it never seems to be that Mike doesn't have a valid answer. Nope. It seems to always be something else. Your data is no good, he's dealt with everything you've had to say before, he doesn't have time... Well, you get the idea, I'm sure.


  4. Speaking about correlation, this seems like a good time to introduce some data I compiled a while back based on a conversation we had. You can refresh your memory here:


    Basically we were arguing about the difference between correlating guns to “gun deaths” (a statistically pointless approach), vs. correlating guns to homicide rates (now we are getting somewhere). You guys kept saying it has been done countless times by reputable unbiased researchers (using Joyce funds), and I kept pointing out that they were showing “gun deaths”, not homicide rates. I said I would compile data using the FBI Unified Crime Report (UCR) vs. Laci’s link to LCAV for gun ownership found here:


    By the way, this was Laci’s answer to correlating guns to murder rates, of which it does no such thing. So I did it for them using THEIR data for ownership (which is the big unknown in all this). If you ask, I will post all my raw numbers so you can run your own calculations if you don’t trust me. This is what I came up with:

    The Pearson coefficient for LCAV state gun ownership rate vs. 2009 homicide rate is -0.02645. Oops, that is not good for you gun control folks. You need a positive number that says as gun ownership goes up, so does the homicide rate. No wonder LCAV used “gun deaths” instead. Now, that is an extremely small negative number, so I am not touting it as proof that guns reduce homicides. What it says is that there is NO CORRELATION. Now to compare apples to apples, I also ran the homicide numbers for 2002, since that is when the data was collected for gun ownership. For 2002 the Pearson coefficient is -0.08935. Ouch, that is even more negative, albeit still effectively zero.

    I also ran the numbers vs. violent crime rates:

    2009: -0.14332
    2002: -0.25019

    Now it is actually showing a slight statistical significance against your cause. Could it be that gun ownership reduces violence (being more likely to reduce overall violence than murders)? Maybe, but correlation does not equal causation so based on this data we can’t conclude that. It does unequivocally disprove that the presence of guns adds to violence or murder. Pearson correlations can give two answers: “no” and “maybe”.

    Note: UCR released 2010 data since I ran these numbers, but I don’t expect we’ll see anything different.

    (for more: see part 2)


  5. The above is for gun ownership (remember those figures were provided by an anti-gun source). We can also look at strength of gun laws. I’ll use the Brady Campaign state scorecard (again provide by an anti-gun source). In this case, you gun control guys will want to see an inverse correlation, while we’ll be rooting for positive numbers.

    BC vs. 2002 Violent crime: 0.11642
    BC vs. 2002 Homicide: 0.00063
    BC vs. 2009 Violent crime: 0.02131
    BC vs. 2009 Homicide: -0.05032

    Congratulations, you got your first number in your favor with 2009 homicides, but all these numbers are effectively zero. Again NO CORRELATION. You’ll note these numbers are pretty similar to the gun ownership numbers. I bet there is a real strong inverse correlation between gun ownership and strength of gun laws. Yep -0.76379. What does that tell us? People could say that maybe (“maybe” because correlation does not equal causation) gun control reduces gun ownership without reducing violent crime or homicide rates. In other words, it takes away guns from the law abiding without any appreciable result other than the fact that fewer people own guns. But I don’t think that is what is going on. It is the chicken and the egg- and I bet the chicken came first (as in low gun ownership preceded gun control). If we examined the change in Brady scores vs. gun ownership over time we could actually come up with a proper causation statement. However neither the Brady’s nor the LCAV provide a year by year numbers. If we did have that data, I predict we would see that when you don’t have a lot of gun owners fighting for their rights, you end up with a lot of gun control… and not much else, since neither violent crime nor homicide rates are affected.

    (and now onto Part 3)


  6. But alas, not all is lost for your side. I ran one more set of numbers for suicide. Source data found here:


    Low and behold, you guys have a pretty solid correlation between gun ownership/Brady scores and suicide rates by state (note there are year differences in all the data: 2002 ownership, 2007 suicide rates, and 2010 Brady scores, but I don’t think it would look much different with common years):

    Ownership vs. Suicide: 0.67119
    Brady Score vs. Suicide: -0.66289

    So what do you do with this? Do you say “ah ha!”? To do that you’ll have to throw the baby out with the bath water, and admit the same research shows no correlation for homicide rates (and gun control pushes the crime element more than suicide). You would think guns are a more significant tool for murder than for suicide, right? The distance advantage of guns or the ability to do quick follow up shots plays no part in suicides. Perhaps the difference is that guns play no positive role to prevent suicides, but they DO have a positive role in self-protection against crime? I doubt you will admit that. Even I don’t believe that is what makes such a large difference in numbers (though it could play a small factor). No, I think this is simply a case of correlation does not equal causation. To prove causation we’d have to look at changes over time. Does increasing gun ownership increase the suicide rate? Does adding a new gun law that increases the Brady score reduce the rate of suicides? Again, to look at that we’d have to have LCAV and BC data over time and they don’t provide that. Also, there are other correlations to suicide other than gun ownership. For one, there is a geographical and financial correlation with these states. Also political (we know red states buy more guns). Maybe they kill themselves when they see Republicans running the government ;)

    Furthermore, we could look at Western Europe, which you guys love to do when talking about homicide, but it doesn’t work for suicides (most western European countries have a significantly higher suicide rate than the USA). Remember this thread?


    Again, you’d have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. To tout Europe’s homicide rate, you’d have to ignore their suicides. And to tout our suicides rates by state, you’d have to ignore our homicides. And to tout our national homicide rate, you have to ignore our national suicide rate. You can’t win. But it all works out nicely when you just say “gun deaths”, doesn’t it?

  7. Okay, let's try this again.

    Violent criminals have used clubs, hammers, and knives with disturbing efficiency to intimidate, severely injure, and kill people. Note that clubs, hammers, and knives are available everywhere to anyone at almost no cost and without background checks. That means anyone can easily acquire and use those items for violent attacks.

    If our society and/or criminal justice system does not trust "dangerous people" among us with firearms, why does our criminal justice system let those people walk freely among us knowing they can easily acquire clubs, hammers, and knives and attack citizens with devastating effects?

    Background checks and firearms registration do absolutely NOTHING to stop criminals from attacking us with alternate objects which are equally effective. So why do we waste finite resources with background checks and registration?

    1. Why? Maybe because most murders are committed with guns.

    2. Just for fun, let us suppose that criminals did not have guns. Are they going to say to themselves, "Gee, I don't have a gun so I won't commit any more violent crimes."? Of course not ... criminals will use alternate objects as weapons.

      It is already illegal for criminals to have guns and to violently assault citizens and yet criminals break these laws every day. Pass any laws you want and you will accomplish nothing because criminals will always acquire guns or alternate weapons and attack citizens. Gun control, which is really civilian disarmament, will never affect criminals and will never stop violent criminals from harming citizens.

      What civilian disarmament does accomplish, however, is making good citizens vulnerable to violent criminals.

      Sorry MikeB, I refuse to help rapists impregnate my wife and daughters so that you can feel good. And you should be ashamed of yourself for helping rapists to attack my wife and daughters with more confidence.

    3. Mike B,

      Imagine that an activist wanted to end obesity and was convinced that eliminating bowls was the key to eliminating obesity. The activist then manages to make it illegal to use credit cards to purchase bowls. Problem solved, right? Wrong. People who still want bowls will simply use cash instead of credit cards to purchase bowls at stores.

      Next, the activist manages to make it illegal to use cash to purchase bowls at stores. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Now people trade items for bowls at stores. And then that becomes illegal. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Now manufacturers start making large, wide "mugs" with handles that are the same shape as bowls. So the activist outlaws those. Then people heat plastic plates and reshape them into bowls, or carve their own bowls out of wood, or make them out of clay, etc. etc. etc.

      And in that scenario, I didn't even mention the fact that people could still eat/drink themselves into obesity without bowls using cups, plates, forks, etc. etc. etc.

      It is the same with criminals and gun control. If criminals want an object that they can use as a weapon to assault people, they are going to get it, whether they have to use a credit card, cash, trade, or make their own ... whether the weapon is a firearm or a club, knife, or hammer.

      If there were no down side to civilian disarmament, of course it would not hurt anything to try it. But there is a down side to civilian disarmament: it makes civilians (especially women and the elderly) totally vulnerable to criminals who have the incredible advantage of youth, speed, and strength. Millions of violent crimes happen every year in the U.S. -- many of them without any firearms whatsoever. Any "solution" to violent crime that makes citizens weaker and more vulnerable is a no go.

    4. Mikeb, did you read the data above? There's no correlation between gun ownership and higher homicide rates. What that means is that in places where there are guns, people use guns, but in places without guns, people use other means. The lack of guns doesn't change the rate of killing.

    5. Yep, what Anonymous and Greg said bears itself in the numbers. I'll welcome any challenge to the calculations. If you want to pass this on to Baldr who "does statistics for a living", I would be happy to defend it.

    6. Anonymous: "Imagine that an activist wanted to end obesity and was convinced that eliminating bowls was the key to eliminating obesity."

      That facile comparison overlooks the fact that we don't want to eliminate guns. We want gun owners to be better qualified and to be held accountable when they act badly.

    7. Mikeb, I've told you this before. When you say that you don't want to eliminate all guns, WE DON'T BELIEVE YOU. Can you hear me now?

    8. Unfortunately, Mike, the comments of many vocal gun control advocates does not bear out your assertion that there is no desire to eliminate guns. This is not a new thing. What has changed that we should trust you folks now?

    9. Hell, Mike's own comments contradict his assertion. He's called shooting, wanting to own guns, wanting to hunt, etc. all mental illnesses or sick behavior. If he bothers to respond on this old thread, I'm sure he'll say I'm a liar or misconstruing his comments and point to all the times he's repeated what he states above, but his ongoing hostility shows that he doesn't mean what he's saying. Methinks he dost protest too much.