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By Anonymous

The recent mass murder in Isla Vista California has reignited, at least to some degree, the debate over guns, mental health, and sexism in our culture. Due partly to my career in academia, I have been faced with a barrage of claims about how we need to remove the tools for mass murder from our society. I’m sure we all hear claims about how much gun control works on a daily basis. During a particularly heated debate last weekend, I was motivated to re-examine the information to assess whether gun control really was a solution to the United States’ violence problem . . .

I’m sure this information has been available in many sources, and will not be new to many readers. I make no claim to this being any kind of original research or groundbreaking information. That being said, there are very interesting correlations that we can find in the data, and my purpose for writing today is to try to increase awareness and provide concrete statistics that gun advocates can use in day-to-day debates.

First I began with a simple comparison. I compared the gun murder rates (GMR) for the 10 states with the highest and lowest gun ownership, and then compared the top half to the bottom half. These were the results (excluding DC):

Average Rate Actual Rate
Lowest 10 2.72 3.08
Lowest 25 2.65 4.46
Top 25 2.35 3.04
Top 10 1.87 2.44


This may come as no surprise, but both the average rate (the sum of the rates divided by the number of states) and the actual rate (Murders/Population) are lower for the states with the highest gun ownership. Plotted in a chart we get the following graph:


Excluding Washington DC, we get the following:


From these, we can safely assert that gun ownership rates do not positively correlate with gun murder rates. I hesitate to assert that gun ownership negatively correlates because of the sources of the data I’m using (self-reported ownership statistics) and the relatively small negative correlation.

But this doesn’t say anything about gun control laws. All it says is that more guns in private hands doesn’t correlate to a higher GMR. So let’s look at gun control’s correlation with GMR.

These are the states that have a gun murder rate less than or equal to 1 per 100,000 people (this puts many of these states in European ranges: Vermont, New Hampshire, Hawaii, North Dakota, Iowa, Idaho, Maine, Utah, Oregon, Wyoming, Minnesota, South Dakota.

Of these 12 states, only one is a strict gun control state (Hawaii). Two states are “1 star” states according to the Brady Campaign (Minnesota and Oregon).

When we graph GMR as a function of the Brady score, we received this:

As Brady score increases, so (very slightly) does the GMR. Again, we should not take from this that gun control causes higher gun murder rates, but it at least provides evidence that gun control doesn’t lower gun murder rates.

Interestingly that does seem to correlate positively with GMR’s population density. The lowest 25 from the chart above have a population of 220,780,595, whereas the highest 25 have a population of 88,481,910.

When charted against population density of each state, we get this:

So there we have it. I doubt that this information is going to support something substantive in the pro-gun direction. It would be a mistake to use this too forcefully to try to support loosening gun laws. I hope this compilation of data can provide an arsenal for gun control advocates to readily counter the gun control crowd.


Information for the above has come from the following sources: I have used the 2011 scorecard because most of the murder rate information is for 2010. The 2013 Brady rankings are available here.


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  1. Worst part is, I can’t even link this article to support anything. As soon as they see the web address, all the gun control people I speak with will immediately say “It comes from a pro-gun source!” and therefore decide to ignore even the actual data in the article. They will then continue to link articles from Mother Jones and the Huffington post to support their positions…

    • Why would you voluntarily speak with gun control “people?” Talk to your dog, or an ant on the sidewalk outside, you’ll receive a more intelligent response from them.

        • Talking to them may occasionally have that effect, but in my experience, they generally don’t respond to an article like this, with charts and graphs and stats. Their position is not a reasoned one, it’s an emotional one, so an emotional appeal works better to convert them.

          That’s why a range trip is the best conversion tool we have. Once they see with their own eyes that guns can be used safely, and more importantly, that they’re crazy fun to shoot, they’re more likely to switch sides. You replace their fear with enjoyment. Demystifying those “evil killing machines” with a range trip is worth a thousand links to pro-gun articles online.

    • Agreed. I love TTAG almost as much as my own web sites, but I can’t post this article to refute some BS on my own forum (not related to guns, but we have a “Talk about Anything” section) without the resident statist calling “Bias!”

      And yes, no graphical love here.

    • Using the term “Gun Murders” is not a good idea. It is a propaganda term. Consider the term “Hospital deaths”. No one wants more “Hospital Deaths”.

      We can easily eliminate “Hospital Deaths” by eliminating hospitals.

      Of course, then the overall death rate will rise significantly.

      That is why “Gun Murders” or “Gun Deaths” or “Gun Violence” are propaganda terms. They ignore all the other unjustified homicides. I would expect there to be more “Gun Deaths” where there are more guns. The question to ask is: does the overall homicide rate go up, if we are restricting ourselves only to criminal homicides.

      I think we should cast a wider net and also look to democides, which cause far more deaths, but the above is a step in the right direction.

      • That’s precisely why I used Gun Murders. It plays by their rules and STILL doesn’t show gun control is effective. Using the data, it’s easy to do this by homicide rate in general. I used gun murder because it gets to the heart of the issue. If gun control doesn’t even correlate with reduced GUN murders, then we have won the argument without even resorting to murders in general.

    • You can also use the information from MotherJones or the Huffington Post to come up with the same graphics if you can use an excel spreadsheet and the graphing function – that would be because the data is all the same: it comes from reported government statistics.

  2. I can’t see the images either. Also I think you have a misplaced word in this quote: “I hope this compilation of data can provide an arsenal for gun control advocates to readily counter the gun control crowd.” I think that first gun control advocates is suppose to be gun rights advocates.

  3. “Are Gun murders related to gun ownership”
    I’m going to bet that most are not. Most are probably committed by gang member who stole the gun.

  4. You poor soul.

    I get the authors intent.

    Unfortunately this isn’t about facts, any more then your spouse saying “do I look fat” has anything to do with a scale.

    We are fighting a war of culture and perception, not logic.It’s like commercial air travel-it’s socially acceptable to be afraid of flying, despite the statistical fact that the drive to the airport is deadlier then the flight itself.

  5. Even if it was true, it’s a completely irrelevant topic.

    Go ahead, get rid of guns. Then in a few years, you’ll look aghast at the sharp spike of blade and blunt object murders and wonder if “knife murders are related to knife ownership.” The tool isn’t the problem. The killer is.

    Further compounding the irrelevance, so what if it is? It’s a right, deal with it. You don’t like it, move to the UK where you have a higher chance of getting raped, mugged, and killed by a knife.

    I bet you can also find that vehicle deaths are related to, gasp, car ownership. Why is no one pushing to get rid of cars? Or stairs? Or pools? All deadlier to children and people in general. Why not just give everyone a lobotomy since many murders are related to emotions? No feelings, no murders, and – the ultimate goal – no freedom.

  6. “Tools of mass murder”. Yes, I see their point! First, the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps. and, of course, the Rainers of Death, the United States Air Force should be abolished by presidential decree.

    Next comes the Angel of Death, the automobile. Over 30,000 dead and untold thousands maimed and disfigured by those Hellions of the Highway, Automobilius Americanus.

    Then we’ll talk about golf clubs, swimming pools, staircases, big rocks, and all the rest. After the success of all that, no one will want those bloody, evil guns….

    • Well, sort of…the Army and by extension, Air Force could be demobilized by the President in his capacity as Commander in Chief. Article I, Section 8 calls for a standing Navy (one reason why the Marine Corps still reside within the Dept of the Navy). The Navy technically would require an amendment to abolish.

  7. Server not serving up images — however here is a good conversation-stopper: Northern New England — VT-NH-ME — has the LOWEST gun murder rate in the us ~0.3-0.5 per 100K population — similar rates to Scandinavia, Canada and other LOW gun ownership societies. Gun ownership in VT is estimated at ~45% — other NNE states similar. Hawaii has a similar gun murder rate to VT — with less than 7% gun ownership.

    Many southern states with similar laws and similar ownership rates crank out an order of magnitude more crime. SO: NEITHER GUN OWNERSHIP RATES OR LEGAL BACKDROP IS A RELIABLE PREDICTOR OF GUN HOMICIDES.

    (click on top right column)

    • I would say that the most reliable predictor of violence (generally) is CULTURE. The second order best predictor is probably affluence — although culture plays a part in affluence.

      There are places in the US where “everybody” has a gun (VT) — and places where “nobody” has a gun (Oligarch hood in the suburbs) — that are equally safe. Likewise VT has some similarities to the deep south — in terms of “gun friendly” laws and high gun ownership — mostly rural — but your chances of being shot / stabbed / clubbed are MUCH lower up here. Look at the WIKI chart and sort. (I believe that suicides are not in this data-set.)

  8. These raw statistics should always be modified to remove suicides. They are always included, as suicide is always classed as mueder of self, but still murder. But basic reason says that we ought not to include them in any gun discussion, as it will skew the stats. Many suicides are commited with firearms, for they are easy and painless, but only a fool would attempt to make the case that a person who has decided to die by their own hand would be put off of that course of action simply because no firearm is available. Obviously, there are plenty of tall buildings and cliffs to jump off of, and failing that there are plenty of pills, knives, razor blades, ponds to drown in, etc. There are a multitude of ways to suicide, and to assert that it is the gun’s fault is no more sensible than saying its the cliffs fault that someone jumped off of it.

  9. Y’all should review links and graphics before articles are posted…

    Did the Freedom Group recently buy TTAG?

    Y’all are falling apart.

  10. We can cut right to the chase with three simple facts:

    Fact (1) Members of violent gangs and drug distribution networks are responsible for something like 80% of ALL violent crimes … which includes murders … which also includes murders where the murderer used a firearm as the murder weapon. Those criminals by definition do not obey laws so any gun control laws that are supposed to force them to do something will not work.

    Fact (2) Maine, Vermont, and Utah have almost no barriers whatsoever to firearms ownership and carry (open or concealed) in almost all public locations … and those three states have the lowest murder rates in the nation. (Utah might have the fifth lowest murder rate but close enough.) Anyone can purchase a firearm in a private sale. And anyone who can pass a background check can legally purchase a firearm from an FFL and carry in public. (A nominal fee and training requirement is necessary for concealed carry in Maine and Utah. No fee, training, or license is necessary in Vermont.)

    Facts (1) and (2) show us that free-and-easy access to firearms IS NOT the problem … and that nasty people ARE the problem.

    At this point hardcore gun grabbers will claim that we can reduce the lethality of nasty people if we implement gun control laws that will make firearms unavailable to nasty people (gangs and drug pushers). And this is where fact number three is important.
    (3) Laws will not prevent nasty people from easily acquiring firearms. Any time a law manages to shut down one distribution channel, criminals will simply open another distribution channel. We need look no further than California Senator Leland Yee. Additional proof: federal, state, and local agencies have been fighting to eliminate “illegal” narcotics for decades. At the present time, there has never been a more abundant supply of heroin and a single dose now costs something like $5 — by far and away the lowest cost per dose (especially when you factor in inflation) since the “war on drugs” began. How is that possible given the myriad laws and billions, if not Trillions, of dollars that the federal, state, and local governments have spent trying to eliminate illegal narcotics? Just as criminals find a way to acquire illegal narcotics, they will find a way to obtain firearms.

    • That’s a keeper.

      Unfortunately, facts mean nothing to Progtards, nor to Evil Statists.

      The former dont think, only follow what the kool kids klub sez, and the later laugh at us, the progtards and the rest of the citizens who aren’t in on the deal.

    • Well put. I was just about to make a very similar post myself. Although it seems to me it’s better sense (gun sense?) to look at the actually situations that caused of all these deaths directly linked to firearms. After all it wasn’t the gun’s that killed people, it was the actions of someone wielding one. This especially important give how easy it is to play with the data in regards to demographics and statistics while completely ignoring the root causes of the violence.

  11. New York City gun laws are the toughest in the nation rival to most European countries. Let’s look at who is actually doing the shooting and killing according to the Crime and Enforcement Report in New York City:

    “Shooting victims are most frequently Black (73.9%) or Hispanic (21.5%). White victims account for an additional (2.8%) of all Shooting victims while Asian/Pacific Islanders victims account for (1.8%) of all Shooting Victims.

    The race/ethnicity of known Shooting suspects is most frequently Black (74.1%). Hispanic suspects accounted for an additional (21.4%) of all suspects. White suspects (3.4%) accounted for the remaining significant portion of suspects while Asian/Pacific Islander suspects accounted for (1.1%) of the known Shooting suspects.

    The Shooting arrest population is similarly distributed. Black arrestees (70.0%) and Hispanic arrestees (25.4%) account for the majority of Shooting arrest population. White arrestees (2.9%) and Asian/Pacific Islander (1.6%) account for the remaining portion of the Shooting arrest population.”

    • But… But… But… That’s racist! Just ask Mr. Holder. Or Rev. Sharpton (if he can even pronounce “racis” correctly).

  12. Hello all. I’m the author of the doc (anonymous for fear of retaliation). I’m happy to email the excel spreadsheet I used to anyone if they’d like to incorporate it elsewhere. Just send a request to gmrstatsdoc at I’ll send it asap, though it may take a while as the semester is just wrapping up.

    • Thank you sir, but respectfuly advise caution, but we have our own progtard trolls and I am quite sure enough mda lurkers who I am quite sure would gleefully out you in retaliation, and MS docs are notorious for having user specifics tags you may not be aware of in the file. Try a pdf, or an image file with metadata removed.

    • Very nice.
      A teaser cut and pasted from the study’s opening paragraph, with respect to the authors for the fine work and succint writing:

      “International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths.1
      Unfortunately, such discussions are all too often been afflicted by misconceptions and factual error and focus on comparisons that are unrepresentative. It may be useful to begin with a few examples. There is a compound assertion that (a) guns are uniquely available in the United
      States compared with other modern developed nations, which is why
      (b) the United States has by far the highest murder rate.

      Though these assertions have been endlessly repeated, statement (b) is, in fact, false and statement (a) is substantially so.”

      Ding Ding Ding-
      Dan, Nick- this pdf and link is worth a placeholder in the Facts About Guns reference section.

  13. Sadly, no amount of facts will sway the avowed gun grabbers. Maybe pictures of Shannon and Gabby selling porn in a sleazy storefront and the arrest of Mike Bloomberg for child porn trafficing might change their mind, but I doubt it. To do that would require them admitting that they were wrong, which they would NEVER do.

  14. I would make the following arguments:
    1. The gmr should also include gun violence as a separate rate. Additionally I would include defensive gun use as well.

    2. I would then show the rate of violent crime per those same conditions, and discuss the resulting trend.

    3. Finally I would compare unemployment rate and public debt rate and see if there was a trend as well.

    If possible, I would try to trend this out over the last ten years and see what can be noticed.

    The only issue with comparing sates is that some are very small. Such things as storms or a crime spree could impact the data.

    Addressing other comments: if a graph on ttag is bias, then why would a fact from a gun control group be any less bias? I say share away.

  15. No graphics.
    Given the inane thought process that we need to remove anything that could lead to mass murder then when are going to get rid of Airbus and Boeing? I believe a aircraft crash could be considered mass murder… If so one big plane will murder a few hundred people at once. Back to the horse and carriage.

  16. You need to examine the statistic which actually has a relationship to murder rates: percentage of young black men in the population.

    Doesn’t matter if it’s a population where legal guns are effectively banned — NYC for example — or where there are almost no controls — Alabama, for example. The rate for murders committed by young black men will be several multiples of that for all other groups.

    • You are acting as if you’ve established a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but all you’ve offered is thinly-veiled racism.

      In the real world, causal relationships are much harder to determine. For instance, some people may confuse the flood as the cause of the rainfall.

      Really, you were just fishing for a kindred spirit to bray out, “Yay-uh! It ‘s the damn N***ERS!”

      Tomorrow’s topic: CRIME CAUSES POVERTY, followed by DEATH CAUSES GUNS.

      Just saying you’ve offered no worthwhile analysis, but it’s no worse than the kind of drivel I’ve heard from social workers, to wit: “If you ask her to marry you, she’ll stop acting so crazy!” 😀

  17. Bad method. Never take an average of averages because it weighs all the averages equally. For instance, the average for New York (high population) should carry more weight than the average for Idaho with a small population.

  18. The methodology on this is screwed up. As hill country dog pointed out yu are using an average of averages.

    What you really need to get at is your gun ownership by state. Those numbers you are using are BOGUS. Did you look a your source for that? they determine gun ownership by gun death! That is the heart of the lies in the “more guns= more death” studies, they use as the determinant of number of guns the number of gun deaths, not any real independent data.

    We already know from looking at Gallup and GSS by state that the further north and east you go, as well as in California, Gallup and GSS have their biggest undercounts. Why is that? Because nationally, and especially in Democrat dominated areas, legal gun owners LIE to pollsters and state they don’t own guns when they actually do own them.

    Also you data source on ownership makes no attempt whatsoever to define what the ratio of illegal guns owned by gangbangers and criminals vs legal guns owned by law abiding people.

    On top of that many people who own guns legally do so specifically BECAUSE they live in a high crime area. Back when cash was common, liquor stores and gas stations, both with low profit margins and thereby lots of cash, where subject to more robbery than dress stores or a five and dime. Does than mean if gas station and liquor store owners tended to be armed, that being armed made them more subject to violence? NO they were armed BECUASE they were ALREADY subject to more violence.

    Look the real easy comparison is to take a look at Maryland vs Virginia. Same region. Virtually identical demographics in income, age dist, education levels, SATs, home ownership etc etc. They even share a major metro (Washingotn DC) and have their own cities as well.

    The carry numbers are public. Virginia has about 10x more carry, and about 40x more carry that is normal civilians and not retried cops. Estimates on overall gun ownership are about 10% more households in Virginia.

    yet it is Maryland which has virtually double the murder rate, 60% higher rape and other violent crime rate and 50% higher other crime rate.

    Just use Maryland vs Virginia, which is a valid equal demographic comparison, instead of Alaska vs Hawaii or Arkansas vs conneticut which are not

    • I used actual rates in the column right next to that one. That one column doesn’t invalidate the rest of the info (I took the total population for the top 10 states calculated the gun murder rate by the total numbers of gun murders). This is not an average of averages.

      The data for gun ownership came from a polling survey (which I note in the article). It is NOT based on gun murders or deaths. It will likely reflect legal ownership (note DC has virtually no ownership and yet very high murder rates).

      I also admitted that there are massively confounding variables and this was a cursory analysis. This is why I noted that we should not attempt to draw too strong conclusions from this. What it does show, however, is that nationally, neither gun ownership rates nor gun control is correlates to reduced gun murders.

  19. Only the Administrative Assistants would read a piece like this and they would summerize the info spun to their own leanings on the matter. AA = Liberal Lawyer + stricter gun control. Most lawmakers don’t have the time or brains to understand what is written. JMNSHO!


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