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:


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?


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.)


are gun sales down under president trump?

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:


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?


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:


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?



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).


putting firearm owners in perspective

According to the United States Census Bureau’s Population Clock, there were 317,474,097 people in America at the end of 2013.

Based on polls conducted by CBS News, the General Social Survey, Gallup, ABC News, The Washington Post, and CNN, it seems safe to conclude that at least a third of all Americans own a firearm, or live with someone who does.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports for 2013, there were 273,044 total violent crimes committed with firearms (8454 murders, 122,266 assaults, and 142,324 robberies).

At full size (click to enlarge), the following graphic is 1029 pixels by 1029 pixels, and thus each pixel on it represents 100 firearm-owning Americans.  The small, red square in the lower-right corner of the graphic is 52 pixels by 52 pixels, and thus each pixel on it represents 100 violent crimes committed with firearms.


Even if you assume that every single violent crime committed with a firearm is committed by a separate firearm-owning American*, we are talking less than 0.26% of the total firearm-owning population of the country.  Yet “gun control” supporters are sanguine with limiting, abrogating, or outright denying rights to the entire blue area, all in the blind, baseless hope that their policies might reduce the size of the red square.

Of course, as we already know, that red square is shrinking all on its own despite – or, perhaps, because of – the increased number of firearms in citizens’ hands, the increased number of concealed carry permits, the fact that every state in the union now has some form of carry permit system, the increased prevalence of Constitutional Carry, and all of the other countless ways pro-rights activists have been preserving and protecting Americans’ rights.

(* – This is, of course, a horrible assumption to make, given America’s high recidivism rate.)

graphics matter, part two

graphics matter, part two

Now that we have dispensed with the myth that “more guns = more gun deaths”, what about the second-most-favorite talking point of the “gun control” movement: “more guns = more ‘gun violence’“?

Well, the first problem is what, exactly, is “gun violence”?  For simplicity’s sake, and for the sake of actually finding relevant data, I am going to define “gun violence” as “any crime committed with the assistance of a firearm”, or “CCwF” for short.  Specifically, after consulting the Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s Uniform Crime Reports for 2013, we are going to consider murders, robberies, and assaults where the perpetrators employed a firearm.

As with the previous post, the Centers for Disease Control will be providing the population of the United States (though we will not be using WISQARS, since we are not interested exclusively in fatalities or injuries), the Small Arms Survey of 2003 will provide the starting point of our firearm count estimation, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and Shooting Industry News providing the production numbers, and Radical Gun Nuttery did the counting for the number of “shall-issue” / “Constitutional carry” states out there.

So, given all of those wonderful numbers, do more guns really mean more “gun violence”?



For the numerically inclined, the rate of firearm ownership correlates with the rate of crimes committed with firearms with a coefficient of -0.58535, indicating a negative correlation between the two data sets.

Even when we consider raw numbers, the number of firearms in America versus the number of crimes committed with firearms correlates with a coefficient of -0.46199, still indicating a negative correlation.

In other words, the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun violence'” cannot be true.

Again, feel free to check my work (*.xlsx file); folks have pointed out mistakes I have made in the past, and I am always seeking greater accuracy.

Also, it is worth noting that somewhere in the 2012 to 2013 range, assuming the Small Arms Survey of 2003 is even close to accurate, America reached parity between its population and the number of firearms in its borders; there are enough firearms for every single American to own one.  I dare say our Founding Fathers would approve.