Saturday, January 07, 2012

Smoldering-Pants Brigade

So, I was reading an anti-gun site (they'd love to get a link) and stumbled over the assertion that "The U.S. has the highest rate of gun deaths per 100,000."

Um, no. Nope. Un-unh. Based on all gun deaths, Wikipedia claims we're #4, and I think their data set may be limited.

Suicides account for more than half of that; since there is more than one way to punch one's own ticket, maybe we'd better leave that out (but I'll get back to it later) and just look at firearms homicides, where the States are #9 -- right ahead of Northern Ireland, which has gun laws very similar to California (ranked #1 by the Brady Center To Disarm Americans, with an 80% score). Remind me again how those "tough gun laws" supposedly "save lives?" Our rate of 7.07 per 100K puts us right at the knee of the curve; the rate trends up sharply for the top 8 and flattens out below 9.

(If you look at murder rate regardless of weapon, the U.S. comes in at #34,* meaning there are a lot of places where you're more likely to be killed without the indignity of being shot. Is it that much nicer to get strangled or clubbed to death?)

One of the things that makes me wonder about the data set for those gun-death numbers is the similarly-organized pages for homicides suicides list a lot more countries. Perhaps it is easier (and less politicized) to get the overall numbers.

When it comes to suicide, we're number 41 -- after nice, civilized countries like Japan, Sweden, France and Canada. Britons, take heart and face the mirror without fear! You're way less likely to do your ownselves in. So the high firearms-suicide rate in the U.S. simply reflects the availability of means; Japan (with historically different attitude vis a vis taking an early exit) ranks #6 in suicides per 100K, despite some of the strictest firearms laws on the planet. People who seriously intend to do themselves in will do so, one way or another. (IMO, that's a basic human right -- it's your life. I hope you won't throw it away, I'll try to talk you out of so doing, but when the State intervenes and makes laws against it, they are claiming ownership of your life. Didn't we outlaw that sort of thing over a hundred years ago?)

So the next time some anti bewails how the U.S. is sooo0 terrible-awful 'cos we haven't got the gun laws of, say, California or Japan, remind yourself that people get just as dead under draconian firearms restrictions and in many cases, deader -- or at least, with greater frequency and likelihood.

But without a gun, it's a lot harder to keep other people from killing you. Just be able to say no! The best way to do that? Have a gun. Know how to use it. Carry it.

And don't let nattering nincompoops nag you into helplessness. They don't even bother to look up the numbers they so freely bandy about.
* There's a state-by-state table for the U.S., with year-by-year rates for the previous decade. Gun-friendly Indiana rates safer than Brady high-ranker Illinois and Indiana's murder rate is trending down, while Illinois' is trending up. Ooopsie! Remind me again how those "tough gun laws" supposedly "save lives?"


Carteach said...

Sam Clemens had the defining sentiment regarding statistics.

Since every country, every state, and every little bedunk county has their own way of reporting these things... the numbers culled as a result are meaningless.

Our own Justice (LOLOLOL) Department states that GB under-reports violent crime by more than 100%, in order to keep it looking all nice and steady dontchaknow.

Tango Juliet said...

Thanks Bobbi!

Eck! said...

Cognitive dissonance, when there are two ideas in conflict and they cannot be resolved and can manifest as cognitive distortions. See Wikipedia Cognitive distortion for more detailed analysis.

The anti-gun folks are a paradox. In their dissonance they claim the high place that they know better. the reality is they no not at all and their grip on reality is exactly the source of their greatest fear. Loss of control!


Borepatch said...

I haven't seen any studies (*at* *all*) showing correlation between less access to guns and lower suicide rates (say, Washington D.C. or Chicago before and after their gun bans).

I haven't seen any studies (*at* *all*) showing a difference in suicide rate between locales with very different access to guns (say, Washington D.C. and Alexandria, VA) that are not better explained by economic/social differences (standard of living, etc).

In other words, there doesn't seem to be any solid peer reviewed work saying that "less guns" correlates with "fewer suicides".

I must be missing something obvious, because Progressives keep telling me that they're smarter than I am, and that there's some sort of Republican War On Science, or something.

And +5 to Carteach0. I'm glad that I lived in the UK 15 years ago, because I think that it's too dangerous now.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Belize!? We're behind Belize!?

Obviously, this is all Bush's Fault.

The Jack said...

Very good summation.

It reminds me of charts like this

and this

Also your aside on "gun-deaths" reminded me of Weer'd's project.

On the rates some antis will say that the US has the highest "Gun murder rate of "civilized" nations."

Which has it's own special condescending charm.

And speaking of Weerd and the best way to say no, you might be interested in this project of his:

Angus McThag said...

The Civil War was about PEOPLE owning people, not GOVERNMENT.

Can't have competition, dontcha know?

Divemedic said...

McThag: Civil was was not about slavery. It was about whether or not the federal government could dictate to the states.

Also: Roberta:
In Britain, a murder is not considered a murder for statistical purposes, unless someone is convicted for committing said murder. An infant that dies within the first 30 days after birth is not a death, it is a stillbirth.

Matthew said...

I find it amusing to ask folks who talk about "developed nations" or "civilized nations" or even "Europe" in relation to comparing us negatively to list the actual countries they mean.

Except for Japan, they uniformly cherry-pick North/Northwestern European countries.

Their vision of "civilized" is awful Anglo-Saxon/Nordic-centric when it comes down to brass tacks.

Roberta X said...

Divemedic: how's that affect their suicide rate, then?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know more about the official listings of suicide for Japan? I was told by a fellow college student, who spent a lot of growing up years in Japan (spoke and wrote Japanese well enough to be mistaken for a native speaker) that what we would list as murder+suicide (someone killing another and then themselves, usually family members) was listed in news accounts as suicide. He did not know about official records or statistics. This was many decades ago, so I may be out of date.

Stranger said...

Well, excepting a dozen US cities and three states, OUR homicide stats agree pretty well with reality. The error is just about 9% or an extra .43 on the official homicide rate.

That is not bad compared to Europe, where crimes against Rom and other despised minorities are not every counted. Greater Europe has a homicide rate of 8.6 in 2010 will probably be 9.0 in 2012. Without including murdered minorities.

England's homicide stats are another joke. England, where a dead body is "a matter of interest to the police," and a man is not a murderer until he has been tried, convicted, and the appeals have been exhausted. If that takes too long, the murder is not counted.

Nationmasters UN based figures are off the top of some idiot's head. The WHO does much better for most countries. For example, the UN says Mali has a homicide rate of 0.1 per 100K population - while working through the WHO data gives a far more reasonable 19.0 per 100,000 population.

As far as actual gun related homicides are concerned, we are somewhere between 40th and 50th. And if I had better data, I could be more specific.

In many ways trying to determine homicide numbers and rates is much like trying to measure anode voltage with a 1 ma meter and a divider chain made up of random unmarked resistors.


Anonymous said...


Statistical recording of homicides here in the UK has always been a political football. Up until 1997 each crime was recorded as a single instance of homicide, even if there were multiple victims (Scotland still does record this way).

The definition they use is:

"homicide includes the offences of murder, manslaughter and


"Around 15% of homicides as recorded by
the police are generally reclassified as other offences following police and court action."

So the statistics are hardly reliable. The 'funniest' example of this is the rates of 'race' crime.

"Figures recently published under the Freedom of Information Act seem to support such fears: of the 58 people killed because of the colour of their skin between 1995 and 2004, almost half were described as white.

The British Crime Survey reveals that in 2004, 87,000 people who described themselves as black or minority ethnic (BME) had been victims of what they believed was a racially motivated crime. They had suffered 49,000 violent attacks, with 4,000 being wounded.

At the same time a staggering 92,000 white people also said that racism was the cause of an attack or crime they had suffered. The number of violent attacks against whites reached 77,000, while the number of white people who reported being wounded was five times the number of black and minority ethnic victims at 20,000."

And the kicker?

"Among the "race crimes" committed in one year were some 3,100 thefts from Asian's cars, cars deemed to be "racially motivated."

Anonymous said...

Divemedic, you've got part of an argument there, but without Abolitionism, there wouldn't have been a Civil War--it kinda sorta was about slavery.

Maybe not 100%, but slavery had something to do with it.

Mike James