graphics matter, 2018 edition

Before I provide you this year’s update on the data, it has come to my attention that I need to clarify a few things.

  1. The hypothesis of “more guns = more deaths” is not my hypothesis, claim, or allegation.  In point of fact, it is the underlying, foundational argument of every “gun control” organization in the country, and I am simply accepting it, at face value, for the sake of examining it.
  2. I am not setting out to prove any causation.  In other words, I am emphatically not making the counter-argument that “more guns = fewer deaths”.  Such a claim would require a lot more work and study than I am willing to put into these posts, unlike those aforementioned “gun control” organizations, who are more than willing to perpetuate easily-believable falsehoods in order to line their pockets and unjustly limit your rights.

With those caveats made as explicit as I can, it’s time to give y’all the update to last year’s post.  So, with another year’s data under our belt, is the hypothesis of “more guns = more deaths” accurate?

… not so much.

PopulationFirearmsDeaths2018

There was a surprising uptick in firearm-related fatalities in 2015, but over the course of the 34 years tracked, the trend remains mostly the same.

The number of firearms per capita and the number of firearm-related fatalities per capita correlate with a coefficient of -0.74808 – indicating a very strong, but negative, correlation between the two data sets.

The number of total firearms and the number of total firearm-related fatalities correlate with a coefficient of -0.17420 – indicating a significantly weaker, but still negative, correlation.

As students of statistics remember, correlation does not prove, or even indicate, causation, but correlation is a requirement for causation.  In other words, given that neither the rates nor the raw numbers are positively correlated, then the increase in firearms in the country over time cannot be causing an associated increase in firearm-related deaths.

In simpler terms, the hypothesis of “more guns = more deaths” remains false.

(The first post in this series, wherein I spell out the above caveats differently, but I thought fairly clearly, is available here.  The source Excel spreadsheet from which I generated the above graphic and numbers is available here, should anyone care to check my work.  As always, my sources are the CDC’s WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports (for firearm-related deaths and the US population), the Small Arms Survey of 2003 (for a starting point from which to calculate the number of firearms in circulation), the BATFE’s Firearms Commerce in the United States (this time the 2017 edition, and for the number of firearms produced/imported), the Shooting Industry News (for firearm production numbers before 1986), and Radical Gun Nuttery (for the number of shall-issue/Constitutional Carry states in the Union).

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the 2015 brady campaign state scorecard – how does it score?

Many years ago, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Ownership would release a yearly “Scorecard” to judge, based on their subjective and ever-changing standards, how well the fifty states were doing at implementing their desired “gun control” regulations.  Of course, we pro-rights activists would routinely dismantle, discredit, disprove, and generally destroy this “Scorecard” as being in any way useful, and they fell out of the habit of making such a fanfare of it.

In fact, the last one I can find published anywhere on the internet was from 2015, and was buried – almost like they were ashamed of it – in this rather paltry attempt at a knockoff of a TripAdvisor report of some sort.

From this 2015 “Scorecard”, we can determine a few things.

  1. No state, not even California, gets a perfect score.  Even with all of the draconian laws that California has in place regarding firearms, the Brady Campaign does not think it is enough yet.  This is, unfortunately, a typical mindset for the “gun control” extremists – they get a piece of the cake, and keep wanting more and more and more.
  2. The Brady Campaign has no idea what they are talking about.  For example, they penalize states 12 points for allowing non-residents to apply for carry permits by mail.  For some reason, though, they neglected to deducted 12 points from Connecticut’s, Idaho’s, and New Hampshire’s tallies for doing exactly that.  If we cannot trust them to get the basic facts right, how can we trust them on anything else?
  3. Speaking of “basics”, the “Scorecard” informs us, in big, bold font at the very top that “States can receive a maximum of 100 points”.  From checking the various positive point tallies, this is true.  However, it also leads the reader to believe that the states are judged on a 100-point scale.  This is false.  It appears possible for states to achieve scores of -47, and, in fact, Arizona has the distinction of the lowest score at -39.  How does a 147-point scale make any sense?
  4. Finally, the Brady Campaign had to blatantly massage their numbers to come out as “good” as they did, and they still are not that good.  But we will get to that.

All that said, the Brady Campaign incessantly claims that all of the various “gun control” laws they desire will somehow make people safer.  As such, it seems logical to conclude that – if they are correct – violent crime rates will be lower in states that have higher Brady Scores.

But are they?

Thankfully the Federal Bureau of Investigations makes finding state violent crime rates easy by way of their Uniform Crime Reports, and since this Brady Scorecard was published in March of 2015, we will compare it against the crime rates for 2014:

BradyScorevsViolentCrimeRate1

It does look like, impressively enough, that the Brady Scores and the violent crime rates of the various states correlate with a coefficient of -0.129, indicating a very weak – but negative – correlation.  This means that as the “Score” increases, the violent crime rate tends to decrease slightly.

HOWEVER, there is a catch.

There is a section of the Brady Scorecard entitled, “CATEGORY 3: MAKING OUR NATIONAL GUN VIOLENCE PROBLEM WORSE”.

In this category, states are rewarded, or penalized, for their “gun death rate”.  Notably, this number is cited as coming from “A Violence Policy Center analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data” from 2013; why did they not just use they CDC data directly, and why not the data from 2014 at that?  Regardless, I am attempting to correlate a state’s violent crime rate with a “Score” that already includes an aspect of violent crime – naturally, this will strengthen the correlation.  As such, I went through and removed those points – positive or negative – from all states’ “Scores”.

Additionally, states are rewarded or penalized in this category for the number of “crime guns” per 100,000 residents exported from their borders – that is to say, firearms that were used in crimes in other states, but were originally bought in the state they are being scored against.  Notably, not even Hawaii – an island with significantly restrictive “gun control” laws – received a perfect score for this section.  Also, it is intriguing that the Brady Campaign is willing to give any “crime guns exported per 100,000 residents” a positive score – apparently they are willing to tolerate up to 13.2 per 100,000.  But, regardless, if firearms are exported out of a state and used in a crime in another state, they have no bearing on the safety of the people in the state that they are being scored for or against.  As such, I went through and removed those points from all states’ “Scores”.

Now that the “Scores” have been corrected from the Brady Campaign’s blatant attempt at massaging the data, what is the outcome?

BradyCorrectedScorevsViolentCrimeRate1

In other words, the corrected 2015 Brady Campaign “Score” for a given state correlates with that state’s violent crime rate with a coefficient of -0.0539.

Which is to say, it doesn’t correlate at all.  

Put simply, a correlation of -0.0539, given a sample size of 50 entities, is not statistically significant.

Or, to spell it out explicitly, there is no correlation between the Brady Campaign “Scorecard” and the safety of those states’ residents.

There is no evidence, whatsoever, that the laws supported by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Ownership are making anyone any safer.  Granted, those laws do not appear to be hurting – that is to say, crime rates have not gone up due to the implementation of those laws – but they still amount to unjust limitations on an individual’s Constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms.  For that reason alone, they should be struck from the books; the fact that they are not helping reduce crime is merely icing on the cake.

(Now, the real question is how many anti-rights blogs and sites and whatnot will copy-paste the original graphic and its conclusion without copying the part after “HOWEVER”.  I would appreciate if my readers could keep me appraised of such attempts at cherry-picking, such that I can call them out as the liars they are.)

(As always, I make a point of providing my source data, especially since I had to correct the Brady Campaign’s blatant manipulations.  Speaking of, should they attempt to Memory Hole their 2015 scorecard, I have duplicated it, unedited, here.)

russian origami

Time for a bit of a departure from the norm around here, as well as an inside joke:

560

Those shirts are available, in a variety of colors, should you want to pick one of your own up.

As for the joke… well, the original AK-47 plans called for the receiver to be stamped out of a piece of sheet metal, then have all of the various holes and slots cut out of it, and finally be folded into the appropriate shape.

That diagram on the shirt is the layout for an AK-47 “blank”.

are gun sales down under president trump?

One of the favorite tactics of the “gun control” extremists for the past eight years or so is to decry pro-rights activists as “racists”, and use the massive uptick of firearm sales during and immediately prior to Obama’s administration as “proof”.  I cannot say as though I understand that rationale myself, especially since both then-Senator and then-President Obama are on record as wanting to ban semi-automatic firearms, ban handguns, ban firearms based on aesthetic features, ban lawful carry of firearms, and so forth – you know, the kinds of things that would prompt people to purchase something before it became unavailable – but the “gun control” movement has never been big on logic.

In any case, now that Obama is no longer in office, the “gun control” extremists are using the supposedly decreased firearm sales as further “proof” of the “racist” nature of the pro-rights advocates, as well as “proof” that firearm owners are a “dying breed”, and on, and on, and on.

But are gun sales actually down?  

The answer to that question is, “Given predictable, seasonal trends, not particularly.”

First, there is no 100% reliable metric for the number of firearms sold at Federal Firearm Licensees (i.e. gun stores).  Yes, the FBI does publish the number of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks performed every month, but the caveat at the bottom of that PDF is very important:

These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold. Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.

For example, in North Carolina, if one has a Concealed Handgun Permit in good standing, a purchaser still has to fill out a Form 4473, but no NICS check must be performed.  Likewise, there is no limit to the number of firearms that can be purchased on a single NICS check, so one check can be one firearm, or one check can be a hundred.

All that said, most parties – both in the “gun control” camp and in the pro-rights camp – consider NICS checks to be at least an indicator of how the firearm sales market is doing.  Just bear in mind that it is not an accounting of actual sales, and does not even provide an actual floor for the numbers.

Second, how do you quantify “down”?

If one looks at the average monthly NICS checks for the past four Presidents, you will see that President Trump is actually in the lead:

AverageMonthlyNICS

But that is not a strictly fair comparison, since he has only had four months in office, while Obama had 96 (for the sake of simplicity, despite United States Presidents being inaugurated on the 20th of January, I am counting their time in office from the first of February to the 31st of January, since the data is provided on a by-month basis).

So what about the actual number of NICS checks per month?

NICSChecksByMonth

So a few things stand out on this chart.

On the one hand, firearms are apparently a very popular Christmas gift, and the NICS checks reflect this seasonal nature.

On the other hand, there has been an almost steady increase in NICS checks since 2002 – seven years before Obama took office.

On the gripping hand, yes, NICS checks did peak out at 3,314,594 in December of 2015, and, likewise, are now at 1,942,677 in May of 2017.

The problem with simply calling out those two months, however, is that it is blatant cherry-picking.  It is true that the peak checks in Obama’s presidency is higher than the lowest checks in President Trump’s time in office, but that does not even come close to telling us if the total checks are down under the new President.

For example, as I said previously, there is an obvious seasonal nature to NICS checks, with December almost invariably being “high season”, and May or June typically being the “low season”.  In fact, if one looks at the percentage drop from the peak month in one year to the low month in the following year, you will see that President Trump’s May is doing better than average, and, in fact, the second-largest seasonal drop happened during Obama’s administration:

NICSPercentageDrop

Likewise, note that this past May – likely either the low month for this year, or close to it – still had more checks than any May before it.

The fact is, firearm sales have been massively trending upwards for the past 14 years.  Given that the trend started well before an African-American President, and given that the President in question was adamantly and openly anti-rights,  the allegations of “racism” are about as valid as trying to claim that firearm sales are “down” based on all of four months of data.

That is to say, not at all valid.

(Note:  This is not to say that firearm sales are not going to drop during President Trump’s term(s), just that claiming that they are “down” already is incorrect at the time of this post.  Someone else is more than welcome to try to do predictive analytics on the numbers (*.xlsx file), but seasonal averages with an underlying trend are a pain in the ass, and I am not willing to undertake that at this time.)

graphics matter, part two, 2017 edition

Last year’s edition of this post adequately explained the methods and reasons behind this post, so feel free to skim it if you need a refresher.  The sources remain the same:

So, with another year of data under our belt, does my answer to the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun violence’” change?

PopulationFirearmsCrime2017

Nope.

The short answer is that the rate of firearm ownership correlates with the rate of crimes committed with a firearm with a coefficient of -0.57582, showing a negative correlation between the two.

Likewise, the raw number of firearms in private hands correlates to the raw number of crimes committed with a firearm with a coefficient of -0.44568, also indicating a negative correlation between these two data sets.

In a shock to no one, the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun violence'” still cannot be true.

As always, please feel free to check my work (*.xlsx file).

 

utah concealed firearm permit holders are more law-abiding than average

Well, you cannot honestly accuse me of burying the lede, but I will admit that the posts here are getting a touch repetitive.

In any case, another graph to add to the list:

UTCFP

In 2015, Utah revoked all of 1008 licenses, and had 212,349 active permits in residents’ hands at the end of the year.

Given that, Utah’s “failure rate” with permits was approximately 0.475%.  On the other hand, in 2015, Utah had 3,216 violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents.

Based on those numbers, it is entirely rational to conclude that an average Utah Concealed Firearm Permit holder is at least six times less likely to break a significant law than an “average” Utahn.

I am sure that surprises… no one.

texas license to carry a handgun holders are more law-abiding than average

I am very thankful that so many states make a point of publishing generic data regarding their license to carry programs.

That said, here’s another image to add to the pile:

TXLTC

Yes, Texas did, in fact, revoke some permits in 2015.  But are you starting to see a pattern for the relative numbers?

Regardless, in 2015, Texas revoked a grand total of 880 licenses.  On the other hand, there were 937,419 licenses active that year.

Once you run the numbers, Texas had a failure rate of 0.094% with their Licenses to Carry a Handgun.

Comparatively, Texas had a total violent and property crime rate in 2015 of approximately 3243.6 per 100,000 people.

So, in a conclusion that surprises absolutely no one, Texas License to Carry Handgun holders are at least 30 times less likely to break a significant law than an “average” Texan.  

At this point, I do not think anyone would blame you for noticing a trend.