Disclosure: When I was in high school, I earned a spot into a program sponsored by the Friends of the NRA, through which I was flown to DC for a week to study the US Constitution (mostly the 2nd Amendment parts of the US Constitution…). During this week, I once mentioned that I didn’t see any harm in gun registration and, for the first moment in my life, turned out to be the most lefty progressive person in a room. I generally don’t have a problem with gun ownership (I don’t own one, but I am licensed in my state. I’ve done several gun safety classes from the time I was a Boy Scout through my mid 30’s with trained NRA instructors, who are the finest gun safety instructors in the world. I think criminals should generally not have guns or access to them, and I don’t think that the gun laws we typically have on the books today (a few days waiting periods, mandatory safety training, registration, licensing to own/carry/conceal) are overly onerous.
I think people who want to own guns should be able to with a minimum of headache and hassle, but I understand why some people want there, overall, to be fewer guns in our possession.
Anyway, maybe it’s the statistician talking, but I started doing some digging into murder rates in the US.
(you can see for yourself at: https://en.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_countries_by_intentional…, http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0873729.html, and http://www.washingtonpost.com/…/study-the-u-s-has-had-one-…/)
The good news: We are doing great, murder-wise. Like, I get it, all murder is bad, and there are a lot of things that go into reductions in murder-rates that I don’t want to get into here. But back when I was in middle school, the US overall was at about 10 deaths per 100,000. Now we are at less than half that.
The meh news with a positive spin: We have a murder rate around 4.5 per 100,000, which is really good compared to a lot of other countries that have areas with hugely concentrated poverty.
(Honduras, for example, where my beloved wife did her mission work, has a murder rate like 20 times what the US is. Mexico’s is about 3 times as much as ours. I hope anti-immigration people get a sense real quick about what people from the South are trying to get away from.)
Yeah, it’s not as good as Canada (which overall has about the same murder rate, 1.6%, as super progressive, hard line Democrat Utah does, 1.8%). But not all of Canada. Manitoba, the cleverly named Northwest Territories, and something called Nunavut (none of what? Canada? Why don’t you speak English!?) all have comparable or higher rates of murder rates than the US does.
So, whereas the US has a higher percentage overall, not all parts of it are equally murder, and there’s not a good correlation between blue- or red-ness of the states with murder rates. (Utah and Vermont are really low, Weesiana and DC are really high, with DC being the typical “gun-laws don’t work” example and Louisiana being the typical “no gun-laws doesn’t work” example from the parties respectively).
More meh: Mass shootings are a tiny percentage of homicides. They are just higher visibility. Trying to make gun-policy by focusing on mass shootings is not a good tactic, statistically, any more than focusing on foreign aid is a good way to discuss balancing the budget.
The bad: Lots of people still get murdered in the United States. Each of these is a very sad thing, and it would be great if we had better ways of preventing this. I recommend working and volunteering at low-income, high poverty areas, since murder rates are highly correlated with poverty and better education is correlated with not poverty.
The scary: If anyone is wondering what is going to kill their children, it will be obesity, cancer, and “unintentional injuries”. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm. It will very likely not be guns.
To quote Nick Naylor: “Well, the real demonstrated #1 killer in America is cholesterol. And here comes Senator Finistirre whose fine state is, I regret to say, clogging the nation’s arteries with Vermont Cheddar Cheese. If we want to talk numbers, how about the millions of people dying of heart attacks? Perhaps Vermont Cheddar should come with a skull and crossbones.”