Indisputable Evidence: More Guns = More Suicide. Or Not.

Now that TTAG’s about to crest 700k unique visitors per month, I’ve had a little re-think about our outgoing links. I’ve taken on board what Sebastian and other internet-based firearms founding fathers said about not linking to MikeB302000’s website—lest I give his merry band of gun grabbers the “oxygen of publicity.” So if you wanna go there, Google ‘N Go. Meanwhile and in any case, I want to highlight the occasional TTAG commentator’s [not-so-secret] inability to marshal what are commonly called “facts.” The above chart is as close as he gets. And here’s the so-called reasoning behind its deployment . . .

High gun states: Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, South Dakota, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota and Kentucky – total population 100.6 million

Low gun states: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut – total population 100.6 million . . .

From the book by Prof. David Hemenway, Private Guns Public Health . . .

What the chart indisputably shows is that where there are guns there are more incidents of gun violence. It’s a sad fact that in America, women are brutalized by men too often, but what this chart shows is that when there’s a gun in the house, it becomes lethal. The total figures on suicides indicate that the gun is especially effective. Where there are fewer guns, there are fewer successful suicides. (source is CDC WISQARS 2003)

Yup, that’s it. A home-made chart with no variables save guns and suicides. More guns equals more “effective” suicides; a shibboleth trotted out to “commemorate” the suicide of Soul Train founder Don Cornelius.

No wonder gun control advocates rely on bloody anecdotes and emotional appeals to bolster their crusade for “common sense” firearms regulations. Truth be told, they ain’t got game.


  1. avatar Matt Gregg says:

    Funny how California, Washington DC, Illinois and New York aren’t included. Looks like Prof Hemenway knows how to cook his stats.

    Lets see the total number of homicides and suicides in each group.

    Are police shootings and self defense shootings included in the “gun homicides” number?

  2. avatar Frank Williams says:

    I can generate a chart that “indisputably shows” that households with cars have a higher suicide rate by CO poisoning than those without cars. And that those with knives have more stabbings. Households with a pantry full of pork rinds, bacon, and lard exhibit a higher frequency of coronary artery disease. And households where people eat food regularly show an alarmingly higher rate of death by choking than those households where no one eats anything.

    You can generate a cause and effect chart using almost anything and make it sound legit to the casual listener (or to someone who is grasping at straws for anything to support their viewpoint). Did you know that ice cream causes crime? It’s true. You chart ice cream sales and you’ll see they go up in the summer. So does the crime rate. That must mean eating ice cream leads to criminal activities.

  3. avatar Ropingdown says:

    I’ve never seen a more useless chart. Obviously, everyone in the five ‘low gun’ states HAS to travel to one of the ‘high gun states’ in order to get a gun and do themselves. That’s why they made themselves ‘low gun states.” They live in constant fear that they’d do themselves if they had a gun. But they finally give in and travel. Simple. Jeez.

  4. avatar Jay Dunn says:

    Even if it were true why would I really care. If I decide to kill myself I’m pretty sure I’ll want something fast and effective.


    1. avatar Ropingdown says:

      It is pointless as a consideration, isn’t it. Japan has no guns, lots of suicide. They love to jump in front of trains, and there are favorite rail spots where a few jump every week. Canadians switched to using a rope when handgun laws tightened. It’s a morbid subject. In the US the actual favorite means are probably prescription pill and drug overdoses, though many of these are classified as accidental. A french director once said, “all you need to make a good film is a beautiful woman and a gun.” The same is probably true for much of TV and the web….

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        In Japan, we should also NB that some (many?) cases of “family suicide,” where the parents kill the children and then take their own lives, are often categorized as “suicides” instead of “murder & suicide(s)” as they would be here.

        The rate at which Japanese immigrants to the US commit suicide, whether with gun or not, is lower than in Japan.

        In the US, males are much more likely to use firearms in suicides than females, and males are much more likely to be successful in the attempt.

        I’ve known two men in the rural west who took their lives with firearms, and the reason was the same in both cases: advanced stage cancer, and the inability or unwillingness of the medical community to prescribe sufficient pain killers for their condition (for which we can thank our “War on Some Drugs.”). In both cases, sadly, the men’s deaths were not instant.

  5. avatar Adam says:

    Still misrepresenting your stats I see…

    1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

      Still trolling while your own blog hovers in the K’s and not the M’s, I see…

      Wait, that’s not even accurate, is it?

      1. avatar Adam says:


        My site receives maybe a couple of hundred views a month; I’m fine with that.

        In any case my site stats are not germane to the issue. Based on the information provided to me by Robert it is a flat out lie to say that TTAG has 1M visitors. TTAG has had 1M pageviews from Dec 27th to Jan 27th.
        Pageviews are very different from visitors.

        Oh, and isn’t it interesting how Robert has now changed his stance linking to and giving a platform to MikeB?Robert is so wishy-washy that there caould be a new TTAG feature: “WRST (What’s Roberts Stance Today?)”

        It’s also interesting that Robert has repeatedly said TTAG is not a money making venture, yet… here he is pimping (false) stats.

        1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

          Then, quite simply, why are you here? As a blogger, I’m sure you do realize that every hit counts, right? You don’t think that even 1% of people are curious enough to click your name like I did, do you? If you are so certain that Robert, et. al. are cooking their stats, why would you lend your legitimate page hits to them?

        2. avatar Adam says:


          Why am I here? Like you I’m a reader, I’m a supporter of the 2A, and perhaps (unlike you?) I care enough to call out when people are trying to pass of BS. Especially when those people purport to support a cause with which I have less than a passing interest in.

          I have a plugin that fills forms in automatically; including my site address. It’s not something I even think about.

  6. avatar bigtoe4u says:

    I reread that chart twice. I feel twice as dumb for doing such.

  7. avatar Josh says:

    I don’t agree with the logic of the anti-gun study. Its a half-assed logical fallacy designed to win over the ignorant.
    That being said, I also don’t think that the anti-gun folks have a monopoly on half-baked logic and anecdotal, emotional arguments to support their case.
    For every solid, reasonable 2nd amendment argument on these forums, I see another one comparing guns to cars. Bottom line: TTAG should try to debunk poor reasoning on the gun freedom side as well if it wants to live up to its name and stay one of the smartest places on the web.

    1. avatar caffeinated says:

      The reason many of use compare cars to guns is because cars easily kill more people a year than guns.

  8. avatar bigtoe4u says:

    Wyoming and Montana have less than 2 million population and they are considered high gun states?

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      In terms of the rate of ownership, (eg, number of guns per 100K people), yes, they are.

  9. avatar Anthony Meruelo says:

    Can’t wait until mikeb shows up to cry. I crave the sweet taste of his tears.

    1. avatar Matt Gregg says:

      You can already hear the sad cries, “Some of you people can’t be trusted”.

      “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”

      1. avatar Anthony Meruelo says:

        Predicted response to your comment, “Appeal to authority – argument invalid.”

      2. avatar Mikeb302000 says:

        I am cryin’, but it’s about Robert’s decision to not link back to my blog. But it’s not what you think. The hits I receive from here are probably fewer than you’d think, especially considering the tremendous number of readers. It’s not about that. It’s about his alignment with Sebastian and the others who have banned or blacklisted me in various ways. I’ve always felt it was a major feather in Roberts blogging cap that he treated me as an equal fellow blogger, just one with a differing opinion. Being relegated to the sidelines, so to speak, hurts. In fact, as was evidenced in those recent posts about my commenting and posting here, most of the Armed Intelligentsia voted in favor of granting me those courtesies, so I find this an odd decision.

        Anyway, about the stats in Hemenway’s book. You can disparage them and him, you can ridicule me for trotting them out, but please remember I’ve always maintained that playing the stats game gets us nowhere, that’s why I avoid it. What those stats supposedly prove makes sense to me. That’s the point. Do you guys think the conclusion is wrong, that where there are guns women are more likely to end up dead than where there are not? It’s the same argument about suicide, if no gun is available will there be exactly as many regrettable incidents using other means.

        I don’t think so. My common sense tells me that the lethality of the gun makes spur-of-the-moment violence more likely to end up fatal.

        1. avatar RuffRidr says:

          “I’ve always maintained that playing the stats game gets us nowhere, that’s why I avoid it.”

          Except for in this case, where the stats supported your argument. I see how you are.

        2. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

          If only we could make such violence illegal. Oh, wait…

  10. avatar Silver says:

    Any rational, intelligent person would never pay heed to anything so obviously cooked and irrelevant.

    However, let’s remember: most of America eats up what the mass media and “intellectuals” tell them without question.

  11. avatar 559luke says:

    California is not a low gun state. Not in my safe anyway:)

  12. avatar ROger.45 says:

    “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan

  13. avatar Mike OFWG says:

    Interesting, the ‘low gun’ states seem to correlate to ‘low freedom’ states. I guess it all depends on whether you chose to feel like a subject, or a citizen.

  14. avatar caffeinated says:

    Yup that’s the same chart that I was looking at. The population groups are definitely cherry picked and it doesn’t even begin to talk about confidence intervals, outliers, means, medians, blah blah blah. No formulas. No regression analysis. Need I go on? It looks like some high school drop out found some numbers and tossed them into an excel spreadsheet.

    Perhaps that is in the book, but if that chart came from the book, I shudder to think how the author cites his sources.

  15. avatar RuffRidr says:

    I’m of the opinion that if you are borrowing something from someone else’s blog, no matter how ridiculous that content may be, then you should give them a link.

  16. avatar caffeinated says:

    So by what is implied on Mike’s blog and that of the book he quotes, there should be a correlation between firearms ownership and violent crime. Unfortunately for Mike, firearms and ammunition sales have been skyrocketing at historical levels in the last few years coupled with a recession. Yet the violent crime rates continue to decline. That same “common sense” that passes gun laws also could argue that the recession would push those living on the fringes of destitution to cross the line and commit violent crimes to make ends meet.

    It seems that the fear of being shot is a better deterrent than a law against violent crime.

    1. avatar mikeb302000 says:

      part of my idea is that gun availability is not the only factor. It is a concrete one about which something should be done.

      1. avatar caffeinated says:

        Nothing in statistics is concrete (which is what your blog is citing). If guns were the cause, the how is it that Japan has a higher suicide rate than the US? One could even argue that Japan has a higher standard of education and higher standard of living (and higher cost as well).

        Attributing violence to increased firearms ownership seems a little silly considering the recent increased ownership of firearms and concealed carry and what appears to be an inversely proportional relationship to violent crime (read record lows in violent crime per the DOJ).

        In the middle of a recession, one could argue that people low on their luck might resort to suicide. By your argument, the recent spike in gun sales should show a recent spike in suicides. There is no such spike even despite the economic mess we are in.

        So how do you explain Japan’s higher suicide rate despite their stringent gun control laws? If someone wants to kill themselves, a gun is no more effective (arguably less effective) than a bus, train, or overdose.

        Instead of trying to ban guns, why not spend that effort on suicide prevention in the first place? If you can’t understand the problem, how the Hell are you going to pretend to solve it?

        This is a misunderstanding between causation and correlation. Just because there appears to be a correlation does not mean there is causation. Just because I have a firearm doesn’t mean I will shoot myself or someone else. In fact I hope I never have to fire it at a human being.

  17. avatar GS650G says:

    How about we throw alcohol usage into the mix. Maybe they are banning the wrong stuff.

  18. avatar LeftShooter says:

    Wait, am I missing something here? There is no way that, for example, the

    “Low gun states: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut – total population 100.6 million . . .”

    have anywhere near 100 million residents. In fact, a quick count from Wikipedia (please donate if you use it!) shows the 7/2011 estimate for these six states to be about 22 million–just eyeballing the numbers.

    Whose “facts” were these?

    1. avatar caffeinated says:

      Mike cited these on his blog supposedly from a book Private Guns Public Health by David Hemenway.

      1. avatar LeftShooter says:

        I see. Thank you.

  19. Remember 2A’ers MikeB302000 lives oversees and works for the UN to subvert our 2nd Amendment rights. He does NOT occupy the same Dirt as us and as such his motivations and energies are in serious question!

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