International Gun Homicide Data& Perspective on the Gun Control Debate Gaetan Lion December 19, 2012 1
The US stands out… Among other developed Firearm Firearm Firearm homicide rate countries, Americans’ per 1,000 in millions per 100,000 ownership rate of gunsUS 88.8 270 2.97Switzerland 45.7 3.4 0.77 (firearm per 1,000) is farFinland 45.3 2.4 0.45 higher at 88.8. TheSweden 31.6 2.8 0.41Norway 31.3 1.4 0.05 prevalence of guns isFrance 31.2 19 0.06 amazing at 270 millions.Canada 30.8 10 0.51Austria 30.4 2.5 0.22 And, the related gun crimeGermany 30.3 25 0.19 rate (2.97 per 100,000) isIceland 30.3 0.1 0New Zealand 22.6 0.9 0.16 a high multiple of anyAustralia 15 3 0.14 other developed nationsJapan 1.8 0.7 0.01 shown.Sources: the Guardian Datablog, UNODC 2011 &Small arms survey 2007. 2
Very high correlation between gun ownership rate and gun homicide rate Firearm Firearm homicide rate This correlation stands at 0.9 per 1,000 per 100,000 very close to a perfect positiveUS 88.8 2.97 correlation of 1. Therefore, gunSwitzerland 45.7 0.77Finland 45.3 0.45 ownership rate explains 81%Sweden 31.6 0.41 (square of correlation) of gunNorway 31.3 0.05 homicide rate.France 31.2 0.06Canada 30.8 0.51Austria 30.4 0.22Germany 30.3 0.19Iceland 30.3 0New Zealand 22.6 0.16Australia 15 0.14Japan 1.8 0.01Correlation 0.90 3
Other study finds close correlation between % ofhouseholds with guns vs % of crimes that are murders Note the variables are different than the ones I used. And, the relationship is not linear but exponential. Yet, the strength of that relationship is amazing. 4
Even factoring higher gun ownership, the US homicide rate stands out Actual Trend est. A linear regression generates Firearm Firearm Firearm homicide rate homicide rate Actual/ pretty good homicide rate per 1,000 per 100,000 per 100,000 Trend estimates of a country givenUS 88.8 2.97 1.03 2.9Switzerland 45.7 0.77 0.47 1.6 its gun ownership rate.Finland 45.3 0.45 0.46 1.0Sweden 31.6 0.41 0.28 1.4 However, for the US its actualNorway 31.3 0.05 0.28 0.2France 31.2 0.06 0.28 0.2 gun homicide rate is nearly 3Canada 30.8 0.51 0.27 1.9 times higher than what theAustria 30.4 0.22 0.27 0.8Germany 30.3 0.19 0.27 0.7 regression line trend suggestsIceland 30.3 0 0.27 0.0New Zealand 22.6 0.16 0.17 1.0Australia 15 0.14 0.07 2.1Japan 1.8 0.01 na na What this means is that not only Americans have a lot more guns than anyone else, but that Americans use them nearly 3 times as much to kill each other than citizens of other developed countries. 5 More guns times more usage = much higher homicide rate.
Visual Data This visualizes the data on the previous slide. The red dots are the actual data. The blue ones are the regression estimates that fit the data very well of any other country except for the US (at the right) where the actual homicide rate level is nearly 3 times the estimate. 6
ThoughtsReducing gun ownership through gun control legislation is indispensable toresolving this issue. But, other related confounding cultural factors remain thatcause the US homicide rate to be so much higher than as predicted.Key questions include who owns those guns? Why do they own them? And,what kind of guns are they?Notice that Switzerland and Scandinavian countries have relatively high gunownership rates. Yet, their related homicide rate is far smaller than the US. InSwitzerland, the ownership rate is boosted by the fact that every male active inthe military (2 weeks mandatory service per year) keeps his military rifle athome. And, this fact probably accounts for nearly 100% of the gun ownership inthis country. Probably similar factors are true in Scandinavia and otherEuropean countries.From a homicide implication, the answers to the mentioned questions areprobably more problematic (causal) for the US. 7
Data accessYou can readily access the data at this link.http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-hom.I encourage you to study the data firsthand and drawyour own conclusion and share your findings with friendsand colleagues. 8
Is there hope?Yes, there is. A quick “Images” Google Searchreveals that while the US crime rate is extraordinarilyhigh for a developed country, it has declined since theearly 90s… 9
# of Crimes has declined since the mid 90s The current crime level is where it was back in the mid 80s. This means the actual crime rate is a lot lower than in the mid 80s. 10
# of crime by weapons has declined since the 90sNotice how handguns account for the majorityof the crimes. 11
Gun Homicide rate by region The blue surface represents the national trend. The red one represents the region’s trend. See how low New England is, and how high West South Central is. Those trends probably correlate with income, education, unemployment. 16
Crime rate for four major cities Three out of the four cities show spectacular decline. However, Houston’s crime rate trend remains flat. 17
Crime rate by age group The aging of the population bodes well for crime rate. 18
Conclusion• In the first half of this presentation, we observed how both gun ownership and gun related crime rates are extraordinarily high in the US vs any other developed country;• In the second half of the presentation, we shared how US crime rates of all types have declined for the past twenty years;• The combination of those two themes suggests that first there is a lot of room for improvement. The US has a long way to go before it will narrow the gap vs the much lower crime rate of its international counterparts. But, second the situation is far from hopeless. Existing trends alone suggest our crime rate should continue declining. This declining trend may be supported by a combination of factors we have not explored much if at all including: 1) aging of the population, 2) rising education levels, 3) rising living standards, and 4) overall empowerment of women. Additionally, an improved Federal gun control legislation would most probably support the mentioned crime rate downtrend. To consider the counter argument, how could a gun control legislation truly increase the gun related crime rate? 19
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