Gun Violence in America

Holy shit!!!

I think if you look at homicide rates by country, guns are almost always a significant % of murders for any country anywhere near the murder rate or the US. Like 60-80% here, South America, and other violent places.

Counties with almost no guns have homicide rates around 1 per 100k or less, such as in Asia. That 1 per 100k is comparable to the non gun homicide rate in the US.

Guns make it easy to kill people, especially in the heat of the moment. The easy access to guns here is why we have violence and a high murder rate. Yes, we have other issues that add to it making us worse, but none of those issues compare to our gun problem.


“The researchers found that people who owned handguns had rates of suicide that were nearly four times higher than people living in the same neighborhood who did not own handguns. The elevated risk was driven by higher rates of suicide by firearm. Handgun owners did not have higher rates of suicide by other methods or higher rates of death generally.”

This is very similar to the gun murder to homicide ratio in the US and elsewhere in the world. Adding a gun to a situation and death is 4x as likely.


There may be some correlation/causation issues here (guy buys a handgun because he is considering using it to commit suicide), but still - this is something that really needs to be a part of the conversation.

For sure there is going to be some overlap. You can find study after study showing similar results.

It all seems to add up to suggest the single biggest risk to being shot by a gun is simply owning a gun. Gun makers know this, Republicans know this. It’s why federal money has been blocked from funding any research into the issue.

The first study says:

After we adjusted for confounding factors, individuals who were in possession of a gun were 4.46 … times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession.

How do you do that kind of study? As close as I can tell, they started with police reports of shootings in Philadelphia. After each shooting, they randomly called phone numbers in Philadelphia, trying to find people who will answer a survey. The question is, “Were you carrying a gun at ___ yesterday?”

These responders are the control group. They screened their control group by age group and race and I think matched them to victims on that basis.

They did not match by location, or for that matter …

we reasonably chose not to exclude participants as immune from hypothetically becoming cases because they were, for instance, asleep at home during the night or at work in an office building during the day.

They tried to use statistical tools to adjust for things like “my control interviewee was asleep at home at the time the other person was shot”.

I do not see how you can really make that work. I’m sure you can plug numbers into a statistical package and it will spit numbers back out, I’d want to look very hard at the details before I believed anything from that.

They did not do anything to locate people who believe that carrying a gun allowed them to avoid being shot. They don’t show up on police reports of shooting victims.

They did not interview the shooting victims to find see how the shooting actually played out (they did review what was on police reports), or why they happened to be carrying a gun when they were shot, or whether the shooter even knew the victim had a gun.

They have three paragraphs on possible mechanisms. Maybe the victim instigated the conflict, feeling empowered by the gun. Maybe the victim choose to enter a dangerous area because he/she had a gun. Maybe the victim was shot with his/her own gun by someone who had been unarmed. They didn’t speculate that the victim was committed to going into a dangerous area, with or without the gun, but chose to take a gun.

Any of those possibilities might have been informed with victim interviews which they didn’t conduct.

Do I think that sometimes carrying a gun causes people to take risks they wouldn’t take otherwise? Probably, a little. Is that effect big enough to offset other perceived benefits of carrying the gun? I don’t think that this study convinces me.


Maybe it is a bad study. There are plenty of others to consider. I’d think any gun owner or gun supporter would prefer to have more information and insights into the various risks of owning a gun.

If gun ownership results in x times more likely that someone in your household is shot, at what x do you choose to not own a gun?

I’m not sure how any of these studies can ever untangle the correlation/backwards causation.

Are people who carry guns more likely to get shot, or are people who are more likely to get shot going to carry guns?


Maybe, but it is not like we don’t have vast amounts of credible data to look at:

Outside of carefully controlled double blind studies, the murky causation from public data will only ever be able to tell you so much.

We have lots and lots of data to tell us that people who go to hospitals are much more likely to die than the general population. That doesn’t mean if you start having a heart attack you refuse to take an ambulance to the hospital.

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causation is overrated in this type of analyses.

correlation is equally useful and important

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That said, unless you’re living in an exceptionally high crime area, or some other extenuating case (diamond dealer) I think it’s pretty clear that having a gun in your home is more dangerous to your life or your families life than not having it.

From suicides, to accidents, to domestic violence, they all get amplified in the presence of firearms.


unless you think you’re a special snowflake, like most gunowners erroneously do, then correlation = causation

I think that when a victim reaches for a gun to try to shoot at a perpetrator who also is pointing a gun at the victim, that victim is likely to get shot (perp has a survival instinct).
A perp pointing a gun at an unarmed man, that perp is going to get what they want without resorting to shooting (though a psycho might shoot just for the fun of it).
Also, guns are valuable to perps. One more thing to take. Easier to take when victim is shot. Simple logic any perp understands.

Or, person thinking about buying a gun.

I’m saying that this particular study doesn’t seem to contribute any cause-effect information. I don’t see how it would be useful to me if I were thinking about buying a gun.

My guess is that many of the people who were shot were engaged in activities that aren’t part of my life.


The odds of using a gun to save lives are less than winning the lotto.

Otoh, America spends $100 Billion on the lotto each year.

So the statistics just don’t matter.

I wonder if winning the lotto increases your odds of helping save lives with a gun

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I always cringe when I see statements made by a “victim’s lawyer”; I also hate that a police department can also make statements to the media (that almost always show the police in a good light).

Could you imagine the uproar if an officer searched a little 6-year old boy for a gun? “OMG - what could possibly warrant such a thing? Now my child is traumatized and I’m suing the school and getting people fired.”
Warnings from multiple teachers should be taken seriously, but the last thing a school wants is bad PR. It shouldn’t be that way though.


That’s not news, Santos has been wearing his since he was sworn into congress back in 1956.