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The chart shows the combined suicide and intentional homicide rates for 26 developed nations. It is always hard to come up with a list of countries to choose, so I let the Washington Post choose this list. They conveniently came up with the list in an article on suicide. As with most international comparisons, one of the major questions is: What countries do you choose to compare? It makes an enormous difference, and can cause exactly opposite conclusions . . .

Why was Luxembourg included, but not Australia? Ask the Washington Post. Why was Iceland included, but not the U.S. Virgin Islands?  Ask the Washington Post. The numbers for intentional homicide were gathered from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, at this site.  Intentional homicide is defined as unjustified intentional killing of another human outside of warfare. For the sake of simplicity, I will use the term murder as a substitute for intentional homicide in the rest of the article.

The latest tactic among those who want a disarmed population is to lump suicide and murder together, in order to get a bigger number. This was done because the murder rate has fallen sharply in the United States, while the number of guns per person has risen about 40%. That makes it hard to blame the presence of firearms for a high murder rate. To make the “gun violence” numbers higher, the disarmists add in suicides committed with guns. There are about twice as many suicides committed with guns in the United States as there are murders with guns.

“Gun violence” is a propaganda term meant to create emotional antipathy to firearms. It means very little. Guns are inanimate objects.  Violence is neutral, like gravity. It can be used for good or evil.  What should be looked at from a policy perspective is whether the violence is justified, or not. Human actors are the controlling factor, not inanimate objects. It is unjustified violence that is we wish to minimize.

Suicide is a special case. It is almost impossible to defend yourself, against yourself. It is much harder for the state to defend you from yourself. Removing one method for suicide simply means that suicides will chose different methods. When Canada made guns harder to come by, suicide with guns dropped and suicide by hanging increased.

If the disarmists insist on lumping suicides with murders, they need to be made to own that assertion. The international comparison shows how silly that assertion is.

The idea that people in other countries are more capable of finding ways to kill themselves than people in the United States is laughable. Access to the Internet allows anyone with a computer or smart phone to find numerous ways to commit suicide cheaply, painlessly, and effectively, without a gun. I refuse to link to those sites, but they are easily found.

Many of the same people who become emotional about suicides committed with guns, support suicide facilitated by the state. It is easy to understand why. Personal responsibility is removed by removing access to guns; personal responsibility is removed by requiring state sanction for suicide.  In both cases, power is taken from the individual and transferred to the state.

In the top chart, Austria and Poland have combined suicide and murder rates very close to those of the United States. The combined suicide and murder rate of France is higher. The combined suicide and murder rates for Finland, Japan, Belgium, Hungary, South Korea, and Mexico, are much higher. By the “logic” of those who lump suicide and murder together into “gun violence”, Finland, Japan, Belgium, Hungary, and South Korea are all more violent countries than the United States, and they all have much more restrictive gun policies.

Suicide and murder rates both vary considerably over time. So does the comparison of the combined rates. The chart is not meant to show that highly restrictive gun controls promote suicide or homicide or a combination of them. Nor is it meant to show that the right to keep and bear arms results in lower suicide or murder rates. It is meant to illustrate the irrationality of an argument that lumps suicide and murder together, in order to further a political agenda.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
Link to Gun Watch

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  1. I’ve always wondered how we compared to the EU as a whole; I’ve never seen those stats– John Lott? Do you call his name 3 times while staring in a mirror?

      • And vote DemoKKKrat, ironically enough. Lott’s a member of DemoKKKrats 2000, and a life-long registered DemoKKKrat. Who’da thunkit?

        • I’ve tried to find a source on this for a while, but haven’t found anything except TTAG commenters repeating it. Nothing about him seems to indicate that he’s a Democrat (he’s even a columnist for Fox News) and I don’t know why he would vote Democrat when al of his research points either Republican or Libertarian.

        • I’ve got one of John Lott’s other books, Freedomnomics. It counters and calls into question some of the assertions in Freakanomics, criticizes Karl Marx in the opening and praises Adam Smith,…… If he’s a Democrat, he’s an old style Democrat,…. which is more conservative than the current GOP leadership.

        • If I recall correctly Lott started out his earlier research trying to prove that gun control worked and that fewer guns meant less crime. But he was a good scientist in that he did not ignore evidence that did not support his hypothesis. No. He did what scientists are supposed to do. Set the hypothesis and then try damn hard to disprove it. Ergo if one cannot disprove the hypothesis it may be proven. (of course this is why global warming ‘science’ is not science. They do not allow contrary arguments. It is not science if it cannot be questioned.)
          The result was contrary to what he thought he would find. More guns does not mean more crime. But more restrictive gun laws does result in more crime.

        • I think you’ve mistaken Dr. Lott for another researcher, Gary Kleck. Professor Kleck is a lifelong Democrat and supports a number of causes commonly identified as liberal. Unlike many liberals, he is actually capable of understanding basic statistics.

  2. I couldn’t care less about if guns relate to suicides. Everyone has the freedom to do what they want so long as it doesn’t infringe on others. You should have total control of what happens to your body, including ending it.

  3. Not sure about the spikes in suicide in the 70s (I was a little kid), but I imagi,e the case could be made that the one in the early 90s would correlate nicely with the financial troubles then. It would be interesting to see a state by state breakdown. In California alone, at that time (not sure of the numbers, but I remember hearing more than a couple thousand), a great many contractors closed up shop, mostly in the residential construction sector. I fail to see how homicide of any kind can be related to suicides, again of any kind, can be seen correlationally, as an indicator that more guns equal more crime. I mean to say, crime perpetrated on others, not on yourself.

  4. Dan, you made the argument for removing guns from all law-abiding gun owners (can never do anything about criminal gun owners, but they are bad people living among more bad people, so gun violence in that community is just a problem for people unable to escape). The statistic that “proves” suicide using a gun is 60% more frequent than murder means that we can save how many people from gun violence if no one (not living in high crime areas) had a gun available. That number is an eye-opener. If we stipulate that most of the murders are committed by criminals, the number we could save would be the remnant murdered by non-criminals. Is that combined number of deaths not worth everything in order to achieve it? Just the elimination of gun-involved suicides cries out for gun confiscation. Yes, maybe a measurable number of people who would have used a gun will find another way but….we still save a huge and important number of lives.


    • No, that number is not worth “everything” to prevent it. Gun or not, people will be people. They will kill themselves, and others regardless of access to guns. Murder and suicide existed before guns, and still exist in places where citizens have no access to guns. Now… Go troll at huffpo.

      • I don’t think Dan intended to make such a stark observation, but it is really hard to build a case that condones doing nothing to eliminate gun-related suicide victims (the presumption always being that if the potential suicide is denied a gun, the suicide will not happen…a bogus ides). No amount of gun safety training will stop suicides, so we can’t go there. How do we address the argument that confiscating guns will “save” all those gun assisted suicides? Seems like something the POTG need to understand and be prepared to discuss logically AND emotionally. Of all the squirrely justifications gun grabbers use, preventing a significant number of suicides is the toughest to counter.

        • Or we could look into the reasons that cause people to commit suicide. Understanding these reasons will address the root of the problem and will help prevent people from turning to suicide as a “last resort.”

          No violation of Constitutional rights and lives are saved. Time to think beyond gun control/confiscation and focus on the real issue at hand.

          • Yes, addressing underlying causes is laudable, but attempting that has been going on for at least 40yrs, with no discernible improvement. and lately, the grabbers are fighting the notion that improved mental healthcare is a promising way to cut down mass shootings….stigmatizes the mentally ill, dontcha know.

            but the fight with the gun grabbers is not reducing events, but eliminating them entirely. how much damage to society has already been done under the banner of , “…if it saves even one…” ?

        • “not reducing events, but eliminating them entirely”

          That is literally impossible and I refuse to give up my Constitutionally protected rights for some kind of crazy pipe dream (or any other reason for that matter).

          • This is exactly what keeps us losing ground. Refusing to admit there is a need to explain gun rights to anyone. That stance does not gain us support. Makes us look like ignorant Luddites. It doesn’t matter that what grabbers want is stupid, the masses are buying it (a near 50/50 split on the issue is not an overwhelming majority in favor of gun rights). 2A supporters need smart, effective counters to the grabbers. Like it or not, we are on the defensive, all the time. Let’s grant that all suicides are committed with a legally obtained gun, let’s further agree that all DGUs are legitimate. Combined, that is a smaller number than Dan was talking about, but it is still significant.

            So, my proposition to you is, “Do you think all these deaths are not worth preventing? Not any of these deaths are worth preventing? Are you not willing to surrender your firearms to save X-hundreds/thousands every year?” Gun grabbers will destroy us with these questions if they catch-on to how to phrase them so our answers look crude and insensitive. Screaming “2A, 2A, 2A” will result in less support for us. Perception is very thing, and we need something to reverse the perception that gun rights advocates do not care about preventable deaths.

        • The only reason I started screaming “2A!” is because you went off the deep end saying that confiscating all guns would result in the complete elimination of all firearms suicides. When confronted with an amazingly ridiculous and completely un-achievable gun grab, why shouldn’t I stand on my “2A!” ground?

          To answer your other question, I stopped my cousin from slitting his wrists and I assisted with getting him psychological help. I chose not to disarm him, I chose to help him in a rational manner that addressed the core issues behind his depression. If (even after all this help) he decided that suicide was still the only option, I would be deeply saddened, but I would wish for him to use a method that would be the most humane and cause him the least amount of suffering. This option would be for him to use a firearm. I believe that a person can only be helped so much and that only the individual is able to decide what to do with their life (to include ending it). This is that person’s decision, not anyone else’s.

          • My setup was to establish a number of potential lives to be saved if all guns were confiscated (gun grabber heaven). Then, using that indistinct number, noting that gun grabbers have a significant tool in their hands (if they ever realize it) to use against gun rights advocates. My statement that Dan’s data showed “double” the number of homicides. Simple to conclude that if you could eliminate all suicides by removing all guns, that is a powerful argument. As a gun grabber, I would plaster that all over the internet.

            Doesn’t matter how stupid we think gun grabber dreams are, they are persuasive, and we have very few effective counters. We are not in the vast majority, we are teetering on defeat (one more leftist SC judge, and we are cooked). Don’t know that if we were a nation where 80% of the populace claimed 2A rights, the courts would be impressed. Grabbers are beating us regularly with emotional appeals, not logic. Saving X-thousand lives annually by eliminating the possibility of suicide using a gun is a powerful notion. Puts in the position of saying we don’t care, life is tough. Not an attractive position to be in.

          • Agree, but we are talking about a single group, gun suicides. A group that can be discretely addressed by removing a single, popular form of suicide. It is those suicides which can be ended by complete and total removal of the tool. Are we that uncaring? Do we not want to save so many unfortunates by doing something simple? Add to that the deaths from DGUs. Don’t we value those lives lost? If we sum the totality of deaths caused by gun assisted suicides, and defensive homicides, how many hundreds of thousands of precious souls would still be among us? How many children and children of those children? Oh the horror of what we have done !

            • And it would make it so much easier for strong men to rape, rob, or kill women of petite stature. Rapists thank you for your assistance. Not having to worry that the victim could shoot them is quite a relief.

              • Not really. After all, the ones suiciding want to die, and suicide is perfectly legal. I doubt the women want to be raped.

              • You went for the emotional appeal of rescuing people from suicide. They are within their rights to take their own life. Taking their guns does nothing for crime, and their loved ones feelings are immaterial, the individual wanted to die. In that sense, calling it a “rescue” is completely misleading, it is more correctly violating their rights.
                As to rape, disarming women would make them unable to protect themselves from an overpowering assailant, again violating their rights, in this case a right of self-defense.
                In boh cases, disarmament is a negative, a violation of the person’s rights.

              • OK, got it now. Recognizing your train-of-thought, here is the riposte (I used to spell that ‘repost’, but I took an online spelling course last night, and I’m good to go now):

                The news is full of stories about women being unable to properly and effectively use a gun (or almost any weapon) in defense against rape. Guns only get turned on the rape victim, before, during or after the rape. If rapists know women cannot, will not fight back, at least the woman has a chance to survive because the rapist would not fear attack, and have no reason to harm the rape victim. What we need is a national program to modify the basic cruel behavior of men. They need to understand that in a civilized society, rape is not an acceptable social outlet. They need to be more sensitive to the feelings and well-being of others, especially women. Women are every bit equal to a man, and no man would feel OK about being violated by another man, why should women be singled-out? It is the testosterone-charged, male-dominated culture that needs changing. Once men understand how women really feel about men, and about the sanctity of women’s bodies, rapists will be a thing of the past because they don’t want to be stigmatized and outcast.


                Guns don’t help improve societal norms, only counselling and education can remove rape from the nation.

                Howz that? Now, let’s go rescue those misguided people who think the only reasonable course of action is suicide. We need to save them, and re-educate them so they have a healthy sense of self-worth. Their “right to die” is subordinate to the right of society to benefit from the future contributions of the unstable individual.

              • Are you not reading deeply liberal/leftist outlets? There has even be claims by legislators in several states that maintain severe restrictions on open/concealed carry that arming women is pointless, that the women should be thankful they survived an attack and were not killed by their own gun. And there is all that stuff on the internet. Can’t put stuff on the internet that is not true; it is illegal.

                All seriousness aside, the riposte is designed to illustrate the mind we are up against in dealing with uncomfortable questions about why POTG do not want to give up guns so that others may live. On this, and some other blogs, the defense of 2A seems to be repeating a mantra that is gibberish to non-gun owners. We seem to have no effective counter, and prefer to just ignore “lib-tards”.

                Back to the original post, the comparison between homicide and suicide seemed to scream for ant-gunners to shove that in our faces, all the lives that could be saved if guns were not available.

    • @2Asux: Wow, your logic sucks. How would getting rid of guns decrease the suicide rate? There are many countries with gun laws that are very much more restrictive than ours that have much higher suicide rates. Gun ownership has nothing to do with suicide. Other than if a gun is available it is a convenient way to kill yourself. But there are many, many others if guns are not available. Japan is a perfect example of this. People take pills, jump off buildings, slit their wrists, crash their cars into trees and on and on and on. You seem to be stuck on getting rid of guns and grasp at any argument that fits your premise. Instead, try looking at the data and then make a decision without your preconceived bias against guns. I know it is difficult when you are so angry. But calm down and try.

      • Re-read carefully. The gun assisted suicides will not all go on to use different means. Convenience of the tool is a factor in the attempt. So, if we had data to tell us how many suicide attempts were thwarted once guns were removed from those persons, and how many went on to use other means, what would we find? Let’s say that only 10% of suicides could be prevented by having no guns anywhere, what is that number? Are those people not worth tremendous sacrifice to rescue them, and allow them to change their minds and live? If not, how do we defend a position that seems to say, “tough luck, let ’em die”? We need a better answer.

        • So you are saying that car keys and balconies, not to mention (ahem) prescription drugs are HARDER to obtain than a firearm? On what planet? The one you dwell on?

          I think you are an anti-gunner trolling us, to what, try and find out what the strength of our camp defenses are? I’ve said all I intend to say to you.

          • Not on target.

            What I am saying is given that some number (how many?) of people would not complete a suicide at all if there were no guns. The gun grabbers believe that virtually all suicides use a gun. But if we are more rational, we admit that there would be an attention-getting number of people who would not suicide if a gun was not conveniently available. Add that number to the number of people who would not be killed in a DGU, and we have a challenge in explaining why we should not, as a nation, sacrifice our guns in order to protect the lives of those killed in defensive situations and those who suicide because a gun was handy. Let’s suppose that only 10% of homicides and suicides fall into the two categories outlined. Are those lives worthless? Are those lives worth doing everything possible to save? Are those lives not worth surrendering all our guns? If not, why not? Can we make a compelling argument that makes those deaths acceptable to the vast majority of residents? Slogans, and talisman thumping, and touting the sacredness of “natural and civil right” to self-defense with a gun ring pretty hollow to most of those we need to persuade. The number of people who believe anyone has a legitimate right to own/carry a gun is not as great as we would like to think. There is no vast majority supporting us. We need an effective counter to the “humane” arguments of the gun grabbers. And I think Dan identified a really tough claim against us.

    • “If we stipulate that most of the murders are committed by criminals, the number we could save would be the remnant murdered by non-criminals.”

      Congratulations. You have made the most asinine statement on the entire internet today. Except for whatever is published on Salon.

      • Dan identified that homicide by criminals (murders) are different from homicides by non-criminals. That reduces to the number of homicides committed by accident and/or defensive gun use. If we take the crimminal killings out of the equation, then the number of gun assisted deaths that can be controlled by gun confiscation (suicide/DGU) is an anchor for arguing that a large number of deaths from gunshot could be prevented if no guns were available (very, very few DGUs and suicides used illegally obtained firearms). I discount murders because society has thoroughly proven it cannot adequately deal with the criminal element access to firearms). My intent was to demonstrate that DGUs and suicides make-up a goodly number of preventable deaths (given no firearms were available to the law-abiding). That number can be used quite effectively against POTG. Indeed, that number makes the case that gun confiscation would be effective in numbers worth getting excited about. Now, how do we effectively (not vocally, loudly, and unsensitively) counter the argument that a notable number of people would be alive today if no guns were available. We have become immune to hearing a very persuasive line of reasoning, answering with sloganeering.

        • So your point is to take away guns so that i cannot have a defensive gun use to prevent myself from becoming one of those the statistics of a criminal homicides that you are saying are okay?

          Horseshit. Non criminal homicides are fine. I justifiably kill someone trying to kill me which ends up lowering criminal homicides by removing a predator from that small pool.

          Secondly its been proven that access or lack there of to guns has no impact on suicide rates. IE Japan… people will always find a way to kill themselves if their root problem isn’t solved that’s the counter argument.

          DGU’s solve the criminal homicide problem by removing predators.

          Suicidal people kill themselves no matter what and you can point antigunners to gun control paradise Japan as a counter to gun suicides, higher rates with different means.

          Also troll harder and with better grammar. And yes i know mine sucks too i blame it on fat fingers and auto correct

          • I am amazed at all these knee-jerk responses. Think a bit. Work your way through it.

            One justification gun grabbers use is that untold numbers of lives could be saved (they never give an actual number) if potential suicides could not conveniently get a gun. Dan’s posting showed “double” the number of gun assisted suicides vs. homicides. That is an observation I think actually supports the grabbers. If you adopt the grabber thought line, eliminating gun assisted suicides (grabbers believe that guns are the only means of suicide), you could drastically reduce the number of gun related deaths. I took it one further and added the unknown number of DGU deaths and concluded that the total number of deaths that could be controlled vis confiscation was significant, and POTG have no effective deterrent argument (deterrent, not preaching to the choir). At present we are left blubbering “tough sh…”. Not a profitable method of increasing the majority of gun rights supporters.

          • School much?

            I used the word “homicide” correctly, as in DGU. Remove the murders from the statistics. That leaves you with suicides and homicides (for help, that means a number of deaths less than the stats used in the study, which lumped DGU with murders). Then, the combined number of people to be “saved” by absolute gun confiscation (forget grabbing guns from bangers or normal criminals) is still very significant. That combined number of potential “saves” is what POTG need to deal with. The grabbers and other crazies will use that sum to put us into the position of declaring those lives don’t matter; having a gun is worth the deaths of all those potential “saves”. How do we answer? Are we even aware that the crazy grabbers are more capable at molding public opinion through emotion, than POTG are at using law and logic.

            Say goodinte, Gracie.

        • Sam I am,

          The point is that suicide numbers tend to remain static despite method, ie people who want to kill themselves do. The counter argument to gun suicides is so you are okay with someone jumping in front of a commuter train, or off buildings, or means x to kill yourself.

          Suicide can only be reduce through intervention and care. Those numbers only go down if root causes are resolved not if a tool is removed.

          Also since most grabbers are coming from a disingenuous position TS can be a valid response.

          • Repost:

            “We cannot remove every means of suicide, but guns are easily identifiable, and lead to the vast majority of suicide attempts and success. If we can remove guns, then at least those thousands who would have used a convenient gun will be prevented, and given time to receive proper counselling….and thousands more saved every future year because they could not get their hands on firearms.”

            Repost alternative:

            “All those other means you mention are things, items, products we need as a modern society. Vehicles take us places, medicines make us healthy, cutting tools make possible the food industry, ropes and straps bind our packages and burdens for easy transport, plastic bags are needed to keep things clean and/or easy to move between home and car/bus, bathtubs are (well, you know), swimming pools refresh us and provide a great means of staying physically active. In short, we need all those other things, but there is no true “need” for a gun. Even if hundreds or thousands kill themselves with other things, why do you want to stupidly give-up something (guns) that could demonstrably save so many lives? It would be a start, and maybe we could learn something about how to keep people from harming themselves with those other things you put forth as counter argument.”

            Now what? We are woefully unprepared to meet grabbers on ground of their choosing.

      • I did a left shift, carriage return here and lost the string.

        Which people are you talking about being left to die?

    • The problem with the argument that eliminating guns would save some lives, whether from murder or suicide is that it is entirely hypothetical. It ignores numerous potentials. You can as easily construct hypotheticals that eliminating all guns results in far more deaths, from the resistance engendered to the necessary confiscations, for example, or that more people will commit suicide because of the loss of freedom or of a beloved hobby.

      It is just a pure hypothetical that is unrelated to the real world. Disarmists excell at creating hypotheticals. It is unwise to use them for policy decisions.

      • The hypothetical are the basis of almost all emotional arguments. Ultimately, you (gun rights people) must defend crass indifference to the possibility of saving the lives of many by simply ridding society of at least one killing tool; firearms. One day, the people who want to save lives will hit upon the tactic of forcing gun supporters to defend callous disregard of life, being quite satisfied that gun assisted deaths are just part of living in a free nation. I think gun rights supporters are inadequate to the task of persuasion on an emotional level, hoping raw, dry data, numbers, facts and logic will result in a country where gun rights are no longer in question. Given a near 50-50 split, non-emotional defense of gun rights looks like a losing proposition in the long term.

        • The emotional arguments for self defense and defense of the state trump the emotional argument for preventing some stranger from committing suicide any fair day of the week, month, or year.

          The emotional argument that the death toll from the conflict engendered by a proposed gun confiscation scheme, much of which would be imposed on those who proposed and promoted the scheme, is also highly effective. Emotional arguments based on individual self interest trump emotional arguments based on tenuous benefits to strangers.

          • Agree. But what are the consensus emotional propositions from gun rights people? We shout at the world about ‘rights’, and ‘facts’, and ‘logic’ and ‘rights’. We are emotional, and passionate, and fight constantly among ourselves. But what/where are the consensus emotional propositions that can persuade the majority of the country that fear, and fog, and childish emotions about love, and saving and touchy-feely cannot actually protect the populace? Emotional appeals about “save the children” are powerful, because “everyone” understands the horror of losing a child to a crazed outlaw. Very few understand “the loss of a fundamental right”.

            • I have often used the emotional appeal of saving children to convert women to the pro-self defense camp. Just ask them if they would be willing to use a gun to defend their child/children. It wins over nearly all of them. I cannot recall one who said she would not use a gun to defend her child/children, even if she would not defend herself. We do not need “consensus” emotional propositions. We need to keep up the steady grass roots push on this from many levels. We are doing so, and we are winning.

              • To take the last first, I do not think we are actually winning. Seeing polling/survey results that the mix is something like 46% – 44%, favoring gun rights (but how much gun rights is an interesting question). “Winning” would be at least crossing the 50% marker, every poll, every survey, every time. While “winning” might be a progression, “victory” would probably be something like 75-80%, all the time (“victory” and “winning” are interchangeable for me).

                To your first point, sounds like a good approach…saving children. Haven’t tried it, but have heard a coupla lefty-babes just about shriek that they could never see themselves taking a life, for any reason under the sun. I just put those types on my list of people to never defend.

                About consensus….the gun grabbers have a single message, “guns are bad, period, QED”. There is not one widely known (via mainlining press) anti-gunner with a different message. A single message, pounded over and over. My thinking is POTG have too many messages, too many points of view, too many interests, and the resulting dilution mutes our effectiveness. Grassroots efforts cannot ever be discounted for powerful results, but the episodes are generally disparate, disjointed, and short-lived. Why do the name personalities who support gun rights not coalescing around a powerful message to be pounded over and over? “Natural, constitutionally protected civil right of self-defense through use of a gun” does not resonate outside the blogs. And that message does not have a positive emotional effect on non-gunners, much less anti-gunners. All along I have been holding that logic, law, history, facts do not persuade much because the audience is almost exclusively all about emotion in every aspect of their lives.

    • “Just the elimination of gun-involved suicides cries out for gun confiscation.”

      No. Japan surpasses America in suicides, and its suicide rate is much higher. Confiscating guns is not the answer.

      • Not concerned with suicide in Japan, or elsewhere. Question is how do POTG respond to the charge that they do not think the lives of suicidal people matter. What is the effective response to not wanting to prevent all those gun assisted suicides right here in good ol’ ‘merica? If taking away easy access to guns would eliminate X number of attempts/completions, why should POTG not want to be part of that solution? We can see that, “well, they wooda done it some other way” is so insensitive, callous and mean-spirited. People who are convinced that elimination of guns would prevent the suicide (‘cuz without guns being convenient, the potential suicide would take time to think about things and decide not to check-out). Aren’t those lives worthwhile?

        Before you take-off on the usual excuses, think about who you are trying to persuade. Those people are just full of emotional responses to everything, and cannot mentally cope with any explanation that does not bind their wounded spirits. Such people are influential, numerous (like, maybe the majority of the nation?), and they vote and donate to other mush-headed campaigns. Their arguments need to be neutralized, then they can be addressed in an effort to change their minds.

  5. What’s the source for the 2nd graph, comparing ownership vs. murders?
    I want to be able to use it in the future.

  6. I often wonder if there is a casual link between loss of freedoms and suicide. I mean personally, if taken to the extreme, say being put in prison, i feel that i wpuld probably be more likely to be suicidal.

    I’ve often heard of a feeling of helplessness related to depression. I can’t see that taking away freedoms would help with that.

    Since moving the the good old US of A from australia, i have really learned to appreciate the freedoms here. I feel as though i am treated as an adult. I bet coutries such as australia with their high rates of suicide would probably benefit from a good old dose of personal liberty when it came to suicide rates.

  7. These are the same liberals who want assisted suicide laws. The only way SUICIDE would matter is if the presence of guns “increased” the –rate– of suicide.

    Considering that Japan, with no virtually no civilian gun ownership has 10x (ten times!) the suicide rate than the United States, that cannot be causally related.

    Furthermore, Vancouver CA and Seattle WA have about as close the same population as any two cities in different countries could possibly have… the rates of SUICIDE are nearly identical. But in Seattle, suicide by gun is much higher than Vancouver.

    So what…. they choose to jump of bridges in Canada more than in Seattle.

  8. Dean, can you provide the raw data numbers used to come up with your graph like you did for gun ownership in the US? Also, probably too late now, but in the future can you make your source graphs even larger? They’re still a little hard to read when full-sized. Thanks for consideration and the great work you do. I, for one, appreciate it!

  9. Suicide is not a crime. Your life your choice to end it. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather people got help because, in general, life is precious, but I’m not here to tell you what you can and cannot do.
    You cannot “save” those people by removing guns any more than you could save them by cutting their hands off so they couldn’t use a gun.

    • Have been wondering about that for some time. If a person has religious or ethical values that would not allow suicide, let that person have their values, and even try to persuade others not to check themselves out. But in society at large, why do we have laws punishing people who want to leave? If a person is a free agent, then why does society want to set-up roadblocks to that most personal of choices? We had no vote in whether or not we are born, are we thus condemned to have no vote in our exit, just because we came into this world without our consent?

    • “China?”

      Confucius say “Life in the Glorious Worker’s Paradise of China means no one would ever ever commit the Crime against Society of suicide…”

      • So all those suicide nets around the factories in the Glorious Workers’ Paradise are for LOOKS?

        • That sound was something going right over the top of your head.

          “Statistics on suicide in China are somewhat controversial in that independent studies often produce estimates that are greatly at odds with official statistics provided by the country’s government. On the basis of data gathered in 1999, the government estimated an overall rate of 13.9 per 100,000 people,[1] much lower than in the total rate in other East Asian countries: Japan (4) and South Korea (28.1).”

          Translation for Burke:

          The Chinese Communist Party won’t admit they have a problem.

          Get it, now?

        • Yes fashion statements for the world so Apple doesn’t look like a tool when their suppliers workers “accidently” fall

        • “Yes fashion statements for the world so Apple doesn’t look like a tool when their suppliers workers “accidently” fall”

          The United States taught Asia highly-efficient manufacturing, the Chinese took the lessons to heart and adapted it to their culture. (And in Japan they decided post-war to listen to and implement Ed Deming’s theories on manufacturing quality control.)

          And since the Chinese don’t have meddlesome bureaucracies like OSHA and the Department of Labor their productivity is among the highest in the world.

          Give consumers a choice on price they will tend to buy the cheapest.

          If there’s anyone responsible for the decline of manufacturing in the USA you can blame the Unions, the EPA, OSHA and the rest of their ilk.

  10. I beg you to show me how “more guns equals less crime.” What happens if the crime rate spikes with all the newly released prisoners Obama is unleashing on us? What happens to this talking point then?
    Using the same logic, we could say that more Starbucks equals less crime or more global warming equals less crime.
    Let’s be honest–a lot of our talking points are rubbish. “The 2A is to protect against a tyrannical government.” Yet, when those pesky Jack-booted thugs confiscate guns or curtail Liberty, we all look the other way.
    I want real arguments based on facts and not on fantasy.

    • Many factors affect crime rates. That’s part of what makes analyzing the effects of one factor (lawful gun ownership) quite difficult.

      There are indeed statistical, analytical ways to account for known factors in order to study the effect of an unknown factor. Then you can compare data a couple ways: 1) Geographically (comparing one state or county that enacted a right-to-carry law vs. a similar state or county that did not, during the same time parameters), and 2) chronologically (comparing crime rates before and after passage of a right-to-carry law). Combining the two types of comparisons creates a matrix that can yield valuable data. Repeating this process over thousands of geographic areas and dozens of time frames greatly reduces the margin of error.

      And if you follow these tested methods, as John Lott has, you won’t find any correlation between Starbucks or global warming and crime rates.

    • You are correlating two different ideas into one that on the surface seem related but upon deeper discussion are not. If more criminals, that for all intensive purposes, are not reformed and still intent on breaking the law, are released on the streets, then there is a chance that crime rates will go up. But they may or may not commit crimes using a firearm. And if they do use a firearm, more likely then not, they will break the law to obtain one. Detractors of the term “more guns equal less crime” have this illusion that it means handing out guns willy-nilly to every Tom, Dick and Harry, when that’s not even the proposal in the first place. What we are talking about is changing the laws in cities, states or localities that make it impossible or close to impossible for citizens or legal residents from legally purchasing a firearm. Otherwise, what you are also inferring is that either a gun has the ability to commit a criminal act on it’s own, or just possessing a firearm automatically makes and individual commit a crime. If someone honestly believes that, I suggest you move on to the next person because that’s a lost cause.

      I also disagree with the perception that the Pro-2a side is losing ground or even in the minority here in America.

    • There is no proof that more guns equals less crime. There is only proof that more guns does NOT mean more crime.
      Want real arguments? Great, make some!

      • Overall, you’re right. More guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens does reduce crimes against persons, but there is a roughly corresponding increase in crimes against property when innocent persons are not present. That’s a difference worth desiring.

        As for making the equation universal, as in handing out guns to everyone, that’s kind of like the Laffer Curve in economics: both apply to certain societal conditions and not outside those. In the case of more guns = less crime against persons, the primary societal condition is low rate of gun ownership and carrying among the responsible citizenry. Once responsible citizens are armed, more guns is certainly not going to reduce crime, though it may not immediately increase it. Arm everyone equally, and you’ll definitely get an increase in crime.

        OTOH, that increase won’t last, because those with a propensity to use guns against others in aggressive fashion will largely shoot each other, reducing that part of the population, and secondarily get shot down by the responsible armed citizens. Eventually an equilibrium would be reached that I suspect would be very close to that obtained by arming all willing responsible citizens (at which point the question is whether the period of adjustment is worth the benefit of ridding society of a large number of violently aggressive people).

  11. The title says Murders but the chart lists homicides. Many people do not realize that the distinction between murder and homicide is VERY important.Here is a link that explains the difference somewhat:
    If someone attacks me and I shoot and kill them that is a homicide. Even if it is justified and in self defense.
    If a policeman shoots and kills a criminal that is attacking them that is a homicide.
    But when the gun grabbers use the term homicide it is just another way to inflate the numbers for emotional effect. Most people don’t know the difference between a homicide and a murder. There are always more homicides than murders because murder is a type of homicide.

  12. how hard can this be? there are 156(?) nations recognized by the UN. can these high-powered research organizations no come up with stats for all of them? always suspicious when a research population is artificially restricted.

    • I don’t imagine such figures are easily come by in North Korea, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Tuvalu or The Maldives. The reasons will differ: repressive, secretive governments, no use in doing all that stupid work, whatever. But there are indeed quite a number of nations where getting such data would be impossible, because of secrecy of because no one bothers to compile or keep the data. Some just don’t see any point in it. “People gettin’ kill all the time, suh!”

  13. Well seeing as over half of the countrys that exceed the US in suicide/homicide rates are gun free should say it all!

  14. “It is always hard to come up with a list of countries to chose, so I let the Washington Post chose this list. ”

    Dear Author,
    You should never choose “chose” when you mean to choose “choose.”


  15. The second chart is of questionable value because the vertical axis does not start at zero, which serves to make the trends look more pronounced.

    It’s a common trick used in statistics to make chart trends look far more important, but it’s out of place here.

    • The second chart is of questionable value because the vertical axis does not start at zero, which serves to make the trends look more pronounced.

      I disagree and here’s why. a) We’re not looking at the difference between 110 and 104 where we cut off 104 points and are only looking at the top 6% of the graph, we’re looking at 75% of the graph, only eliminating the bottom empty quarter which changes nothing, and b) both pieces of the graph are affected equally and have the same Y-axis values. The big thing is that this graph does not zoom in on basically “flat lines” to exaggerate small perturbations.

  16. A very useful article. Thank you, Mr. Weingarten. I hope this gets featured on the “Facts About Guns” page. I’m bookmarking this to link to the next time I choose to respond to some claim about “gun deaths”.

  17. Would like a chart showing these figures per-capita instead of per 100k. We have a larger population than Greece…like 300-11.

  18. Hmmm… the Czech Republic ranks fairly low, and their level of firearms freedom makes Vermont look like New York City.

    • Czech republic has firearm owner licences, background check for all purchases, registration, medical check and proof of practical and theoretical knowledge of firearm handling for concealed carry licence, no open carry at all… it sure is better than rest of Europe, but no gun heaven by a long shot.

  19. “Suicide and murder rates both vary considerably over time. So does the comparison of the combined rates. The chart is not meant to show that highly restrictive gun controls promote suicide or homicide or a combination of them. Nor is it meant to show that the right to keep and bear arms results in lower suicide or murder rates. It is meant to illustrate the irrationality of an argument that lumps suicide and murder together, in order to further a political agenda”


  20. Dean, since you have the figures to differentiate between murder and suicide, it would have been perhaps more enlightening to do so on your first graph, listing murders in one color topped with suicides in another color on each bar. Otherwise, excellent article!

  21. I recall an article here not so long ago that pointed out that if the three dozen most violent counties in the U.S. are taken out of the numbers, the rest of the country comes in near Iceland or Germany.

    So the question we ought to be asking is “WTF is wrong with those counties?!!!!”

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