After scowering the internet and a few of my favorite statistic gathering websites for data on the link between firearms and violent crimes/murder/and accidental deaths I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. The data is all over the place.
When you look at JUST the data inside the United States its confusing enough, but when you begin looking at the entire planet the task become daunting. There is WAY too much misinformation and bad data on both sides of the argument (pro gun/anti gun) to take almost any article at face value. So after reading what seems like 100 articles and 100 data sets I finally came to a few conclusions that I think are worth sharing. Since this will probably be a fairly lengthy and boring article I’ll give you the conclusion first:
A.) Evidence shows that legislation (strict gun laws) is not the determining factor between firearm ownership and firearm crime.
B.) Evidence shows that there is a coorilation between gun availability and the number of firearm related incidents (sometimes, but not always realated to A above)
C.) Evidence shows that there is a coorilation between Government Oppression of the population and lack of legal gun ownership.
D.) Evidence shows that in any population most violent crimes involving firearms were almost always perpetrated by an illegally obtained firearm regardless of the strictness of firearm laws. (Laws do not prevent criminals from obtaining guns).
E.) Evidence shows overwhelmingly that Demographics (race, gender, education, income, ethnicity) play the KEY role in the link between firearms and firearm related incidents.
F.) The answer to ending gun violence in America and optimizing Liberty is by addressing education, income gaps, social norms, and behavior of the people – especially males between the age of 17 – 26.
What the Numbers Say
Statistics show that there is no real coorilation between strict gun laws and gun related homicides as countries with varying percentages of households with firearms are found all over the list. I found this chart very interesting – the countries with the most strict gun laws (no households with guns) were found on both the top and bottom of the list for ranking by Firearm Homicide. This tells me that there MUST be something else going on. A quick bit of research in to these countries tells me that drugs, war, and demographics are the key to crime and more specifically gun related crime.
An issue of Demographics?
The link between demographics and firearm incidents was disturbing to me. These statistics in and of themself are enough to tell me that we are addressing the wrong problem when we talk about gun control. This shouldn’t be an issue of “should we have guns or not”, but rather one of “how do we fix the cultural problem” in this country. Why the disparity?
The fight against gun control is fighting the symptom, not the problem.
- In 2007, African-Americans represented 13 percent of the population yet accounted for 49 percent of all homicide victims.
- In 2007, 80 percent of gun deaths among Whites were from suicide.
- There is a strong link between race/class and education/test scores. Furthermore there is a strong link between lack of education and violent crime indicating those in poverty and of specific ethnic groups are at higher risk of committing a firearm related crime.
Weapon Availability vs. Gun Legislation
There is certainly a link between gun availablility and firearm related incidents. However, “availability” is not always measured or coorilated to the legality of obtaining those weapons. So we cannot conclude from that alone that the strict legislation prohibiting the pocession of weapons is the case. Furthermore, in the United States we see other effects of gun ownership – such as the states with the highest levels of gun ownership actually have the lowest overall crime rates. Is ther a link? I don’t know, but it is important to remember that causation is not always coorilation.
To give an analogy – The United States has the highest percentage of population with availability to automobiles, thus we also have the highest number of automobile related deaths and crimes. Does this mean we should create more legislation dictating how we use our privilage to drive? No. As with gun ownership there are intrinsique benefits and risks associated with gun ownership as well as automobile ownership.
Also, creating legislation around Gun Control implies that people intend to follow the law. Studies show that most violent crimes related to firearms were made by people with guns obtained illegally in the first place. Laws only effect people who intend on following them.
Freedom and Gun Control
Something the Founding Fathers knew all too well was that for citizens to remain free from the tyranny of their Governments (or any other oppressor) it was necessary to have the ability to fight back. In the most oppressed countries around the world it is no surprise that legal gun ownership is almost zero everytime. To rule a population, first you must disarm them.
I certainly am NOT saying that the trick to ending oppression in these nations is giving every household a gun, but what I am saying is that there is a certain amount of liberty in RESPONSIBLY owning a firearm. Furthermore, there is no evidence that further legislation in the United States would do an ounce of good toward disarming criminals. Even at a global scale we see inconsistant data as to whether strict gun laws help or not.
What should we do about firearms and violence?
The data points in one direction. The ONLY way to decrease gun related crimes while maintaining our liberty is to via education, closing income gaps, and altering cultural norms. Just like we knew all along – to change the world, first you have to change the heart and minds of the people living there.