Violence & Firearms

Liberals, in their seemingly unending quest to disarm the American people, nearly continuously claim that stricter gun control laws reduce violent crime and make America a safer place in which to live.

Conservatives, in their seemingly unending quest to maintain the right of arms for the American people, nearly continuously claim that more lenient control laws reduce violent crime and make America a safer place in which to live.

Both sides have made such directly conflicting claims for decades and do not look like they’ll be shifting from their respective positions anytime soon. That being the case, it behooves people to do a bit of research into the available data in order to form an objective opinion. To that end I researched the FBI’s Violent Crime Statistics and the Brady Campaign State Scorecards.

This is where I totally enrage both sides of the gun control issue. Publishing non-partisan, objective data tends to do that.

Some key points of my findings are shown below. They do not well fit the claims of either side of the argument of gun control.

Top 10 Least Violent States

State Violent Crime / Capita Brady Campaign Rankings
Maine 0.00118 12
Vermont 0.00124 9
New Hampshire 0.00137 11
North Dakota 0.00142 4
South Dakota 0.00169 6
Rhode Island 0.00227 47
Utah 0.00235 4
Idaho 0.00239 6
Wyoming 0.00239 9
Connecticut 0.00256 54

So, according to the FBI’s statistics on violent crime, the ten (10) safest (least violent crime per capita) states have Brady Campaign scores ranging from 4 (very lenient) to 54 (fairly strict). Indeed, the safest is Maine with its rather Wild-West-esque Brady Score of 12 and the most dangerous – of the safest ten – is Connecticut with its Brady Score of 54. It seems that there is little or no correlation at all between gun laws and violent crime in the ten (10) least violent American states.

Looking at the other end of spectrum, the ten(10) states with the highest violent crime rates per capita, we see a worrisomely similar lack of correlation between gun laws and violent crime.

Top 10 Most Violent States

State Violent Crime / Capita Brady Campaign Rankings
South Carolina 0.00788 9
Tennessee 0.00753 7
Nevada 0.00751 11
Louisiana 0.00729 2
Florida 0.00723 6
Delaware 0.00689 22
New Mexico 0.00664 6
Alaska 0.00661 4
Maryland 0.00642 53
Michigan 0.00536 22

So, according to the FBIs statistics on violent crime, the ten (10) most dangerous (most violent crime per capita) states have Brady Campaign scores ranging from 2 (extremely lenient) to 53 (fairly strict). Even within this most dangerous ten (10) states there is no direct correlation between violent crime rates and the strictness or leniency of gun control laws.

Most telling though is the similarity in the Brady Scores between to ten safest and the the ten most dangerous states. Both group have a very similar set of scores and a very similar scattering of the scores in question.

Composite of Safest & Most Dangerous Sorted by Brady Score

State Violent Crime / Capita Brady Campaign Rankings
Connecticut 0.00256 54
Maryland 0.00642 53
Rhode Island 0.00227 47
Delaware 0.00689 22
Michigan 0.00536 22
Maine 0.00118 12
Nevada 0.00751 11
New Hampshire 0.00137 11
South Carolina 0.00788 9
Wyoming 0.00239 9
Vermont 0.00124 9
Tennessee 0.00753 7
Florida 0.00723 6
New Mexico 0.00664 6
Idaho 0.00239 6
South Dakota 0.00169 6
Alaska 0.00661 4
Utah 0.00235 4
North Dakota 0.00142 4
Louisiana 0.00729 2

Given these results, it seems difficult – if not completely impossible – for an objective opinion to be formed that there is a direct correlation between the strictness or leniency of gun control laws in the states and those states’ respective levels of violent crime. I think it would behoove both the Liberal and Conservative camps to consider another point of contention.

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17 Responses to “Violence & Firearms”

  1. What’s the correlation between violent crime and gun control « tangents and digressions Says:

    […] the correlation between violent crime and gun control Jonolan pulls together some data and says […]

  2. zhann Says:

    America is by far the most violent nation in the world (anyone who watched Bowling for Columbine has been made aware of many biased facts in this regards). The fact that this violence is often attributed solely to lax gun laws is laughable … Canada has more lax gun laws and is far less violent. There is far more to America’s violent tendencies than simply gun laws.

    This is a great post, Jonolan. I have yet to see the facts laid out in such a manner. I think that we are in agreement, in part, in our view on gun control. I have no desire to see American’s loose their right to bear arms, however there are times that I think that some common sense would be well rewarded.

    If people want to own firearms, so be it. If they shoot someone, I think that they should loose this right. People with Violent Tendencies should be checked, and people with criminal pasts should be checked. Bearing arms should not be a right, it should be a privilege. Privileges should be taken away, and there shouldn’t be means for people to go around checks (Gun Shows).

    These are, of course, simply my opinion on this matter.

  3. jonolan Says:

    Thank you, zhann. I enjoy and am gratified by your appreciation of this post. It took a fair bit of effort to put it together.

    We differ in our opinions on firearm ownership to some extent, but not to the level that would cause rancor. 😉

    One thing though – in Constitutional terms it’s the right to keep arms, not bear them. The right to Bear arms means the right to take active and armed part in the common defense – i.e. join the military.

    That particular point will be key a post I’m putting up fairly soon. 😉

  4. zhann Says:

    Thanks for the clarification. But, honestly, I am sure you have had issues with particular people keeping arms. Do you honestly believe that every American should be able to keep arms, regardless of, say, their mental capabilities? There needs to be limits to who can house firearms in their home, especially assualt rifles and automatic weapons. Particular people are unstable mentally, just read about the Virginia Tech killer … his type should not be allowed to own firearms. I specifically remember high school (grew up in upstate NY) where everyone owned firearms. While it was fun growing up with weapons at arms reach, it is scary to think what went on in those days. Many of those people should never have been allowed to have rifles … especially the ones that got a kick out of going into the forest to take out random wildlife.

    I am just saying, there should be some logical limit …

  5. jonolan Says:

    Frankly, zhann, I’m torn on the issue you raise.

    I’m quite concerned about the mentally deranged and felons possessing firearms, and am so for the obvious reasons of persona land public safety. Yet I’m loath to suggest removing someone’s Constitutionally enumerated rights.

    I keep coming back to Thomas Jefferson’s words to Archibald Stuart,

    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.

    Who’s mentally unstable and who makes that decision and by what criteria? It’s those questions, and the historical answers to them, that make me twitch.

  6. Paradigm Says:

    I read something similar to this in Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate. He listed several countries with strict guncontrol that were high in violent crime and vice versa. Almost all violent criminals are men with low IQ and lacking in impulse control. It’s in their nature. I suspect one reason America is so violent is because it’s a country of immigrants. The impulsive and restless move there while the others stay put.

  7. jonolan Says:

    I can’t really agree with that assertion, Paradigm. I don’t think that IQ and impulse control are accurate measurements of predilection towards violent crime.

    Desperation and despair seem to be better measurements for such criminal behavior. Such desperation and despair is more likely caused by a lack of education as opposed to a lack of intelligence.

    Indeed, one only has to look at the misused intelligence and tactical planning shown by many drug gangs in their ongoing wars with both the law and each other to see that these very violent men are not lacking in cognitive ability or impulse control.

    As for immigrants – that theory doesn’t hold much water as far as I can see.

    In the US violent crime is highest amongst the Black population. While they’re the descendants of “immigrants,” the vast majority of those “immigrants” were brought here by force, not by their own wanderlust.

  8. Josh Brandt Says:

    People seem to have the idea in their head that guns kill people, but they fail to take into account that the person behind the gun had the will to kill not the gun. Its like saying spoons make people fat.

  9. jonolan Says:

    Not always, Josh. Many of them do take into account that the person behind the gun had the will to kill. They just rather mistakenly and rather stupidly believe that, if they take away his gun, they can prevent him from killing.

  10. Paradigm Says:

    All surveys indicate that Americans are higher on impulsivity than other countries. And other studies show that the prison population is highly impulsive, regardless of ethnicity.

    Furthermore, lack of intelligence leads to lack of education not vice versa. IQ is 80 percent hereditary and is very resistant to environmental factors. Those ganglords are just a tiny tip of the iceberg.

  11. jonolan Says:

    I can get behind the idea that, as a whole, Americans are more impulsive than the more stolid populations of other nations. Our continued innovation is evidence of that.

    But neither intelligence or education are precursors, prerequisites or results of the other. There are many factors that lead to a poor education and many less than intelligent people with good educations.

    A lack of education though, is a common precursor to a lack of hope of betterment, which often leads to a despair and desperation that facilitates the ease of making violent and poor / evil choices.

  12. Prohibitive Arguments | Reflections From a Murky Pond Says:

    […] It’s predictable to the point of being pass, with the same sorts ranting or whining the same baseless arguments. […]

  13. cmblake6 Says:

    Jonolan, to give any credence at all to anything by the Brady Bunch tends to cause my view of your objectivity to suddenly go totally awry. For example, their ratings are based on the restrictiveness of the states gun laws, the more restrictive the higher their rating. Where I will grant some acceptance in the puzzle of why some states have higher crime rates would fall under environment and culture. But remembering that “per capita” numbers are per 100,000 people, you must look further into the actual location within the states that are confusing, and once again, the culture.

  14. jonolan Says:

    Diving deeper doesn’t do any good in most areas as most localities don’t have the gun bans of Chicago and such places. Most states have essentially one set of restrictions and permissions.

    What’s important in my opinion is that there’s no correlation to be found between Brady scores and violent crime rates over the long term. That’s important because it means that we’ve all, both Americans and gun-grabbers, been making invalid arguments and that might have something to do with stalemate we’re suffering.

  15. Joe Weare Says:

    Jonolon, I can’t help but take note that your first column is titled simply Violent crime per capita. This suggests to me that the numbers involve ALL violent crimes rather than only firearms related. I am bringing this up because I recently read an article by a journalist who did a very similar article except that he used world-wide statistics on a national basis then broken down by major cities, and limited to firearm -related violence only. the interesting conclusion was that yes America was toward the top of the most violent list but: If you subtracted the number from just three cities, Los Angelas CA, Chicago IL and I believe it was New York City, although it may have been Detroit, Mi (The 3 cities with the most restrictive gun laws in the US), America dropped to 4th from the BOTTOM of the list. I wish I could remember the where I read the article, but it was a few days ago, and I just simply don’t remember.

  16. jonolan Says:

    Joe, you are in fact correct. The 1st column is for violent crime et al, not just firearm-related violent crime.

  17. Violence & Firearms | Mizozo Says:

    […] Originally on Reflections From a Murky Pond […]

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