graphics matter, part three

graphics matter, part three

As previously demonstrated, the hypothesis of “more guns = more deaths” not only is not true, but cannot be true historically in the United States.  Despite that simple fact, “gun control” supporters still bitterly cling to the irrational notion that firearms are naught but the tools of murder and mayhem.

So let us humor them for a second.  We know that the number of firearms in circulation in America has been steadily increasing for as long as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has been tracking the relevant numbers.  Likewise, the raw murder count in the States has dropped to numbers unseen since the 1960s.

However, what about the percentage of those murders committed with the assistance of a firearm?  After all, if firearms’ only purpose is to murder other people, one would think that, even if the overall murder rate is going down, the percentage of murders that involved a firearm would be going up given the increased number of firearms in the country.


Well, as with many of the things “gun control” advocates purport to be “common sense”, the reality is a little more complicated:


The grey bars track the percentage of murders that were committed with the assistance of a firearm, and, as you can see, those bars do not come anywhere close to echoing the consistent climb of the number of firearms in the United States.

In fact, the trend line for the percentages is functionally level, with a slope of 0.0006, compared to the slope of 669.64 for the number of firearms in America.  Oh, and yes, that does mean that, averaged over the past 20 years, at least 6,696,400 firearms have been produced in or imported into the United States every year.

Despite the nearly level trend line of the percentages, there does exist a correlation of 0.14784 between the number of firearms in the United States and the percentage of murders committed with the assistance of firearms.  This is, however, a tremendously weak correlation, and given the very narrow range of percentages – a maximum of 64% and a minimum of 55% – it is certainly not enough to draw any kind of causal relationship.

So, could the increased number of firearms in public circulation lead to a higher percentage of murders involving those firearms?  Based on the available data, yes, it is possible… but it has not been happening consistently yet.

Source *.xls file.

Other Sources:

Small Arms Survey of 2003

Shooting Industry News

graphics matter, international edition

graphics matter, international edition

Now that we have shown that the hypothesis “more guns = more ‘gun deaths'” cannot be true in America, what about on an international scale?

Well, this is where things get really complicated.

Not all countries keep good records of their respective murders, much less their respective firearm ownership, so we are going to have to do a massive amount of estimating.

For the number of firearms in civilian ownership, we will refer to the 2007 Small Arms Survey, Chapter 2, Annexe 3 (*.pdf warning) and their documentation of 178 different countries.  We will consider the numbers from every possible country in North, South, and Central America; North, South, Eastern, and Western Europe; Oceania; and a few other odds and ends to round out the data set to a good sample body of 100.  I used the average of the “Low Total from Outside Sources” and “High Total from Outside Sources” where available, and “Registered” if not, to generate the ownership numbers for the individual countries.  It is worth noting that some useful countries – like Denmark, India, and Luxembourg – are omitted from the survey; for these countries, the only numbers available are “Total from Regional Correlation” – i.e. they were making a guess based on the guesses they made around that country.

Likewise, the population numbers for the countries considered came from the same Small Arms Survey.

I hate to admit this, simply because I hate using Wikipedia as a primary source for anything, but the numbers of murders per country, from which I calculated their murder rates, is from the List of countries by intentional homicide rates.  As always, these numbers are subject to the inherent flaws in various countries’ recording methods, as well as the flaws intrinsic to Wikipedia itself.

It is worth noting that we are considering total murders this time around, rather than simply “gun deaths”.  If you think recording methods are inconsistent among various nations, just imagine how messy trying to track means of death would be.

Here is the end result:


You almost certainly will want to click on it to make it larger.

The line slanting down from left to right is the trendline of the datapoints; basically it shows that the correlation between firearm ownership rates and murder rates in the 100 countries sampled is negative, at a coefficient of -0.1832.  Note that this is a weak correlation, and thus cannot be considered binding.

In other words, as with the trend here in America, the hypothesis that “more guns = more deaths” cannot be true on an international scale.  I am not a betting man, but I am starting to see a trend here…

If you want to see what the other 100 countries were, since a goodly number are stacked on top of each other, the source data is available for your consideration.

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.