Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Gun violence in most of the US is not that bad, considered state by state

Because of my particular vocation, I've never been terribly impressed by the power of facts because I think that reason is capable of achieving many things by itself.  Moreover, science and knowledge are always produced by interested institutions and parties, who despite their best efforts cannot denude themselves of prejudices (what's more, were they able to, they would consequently be unable to know anything!).  And so I've always thought that while science and research were important, they needed to be treated very delicately, and submitted to the court of reason.

But we know, since Kant, that reason has its limits and therefore must allow empirical science to be an equal source of education for reason.

So then let's follow science and see where it leads (and then allow that reason might have questions of its own).  It has led to some disappointing outcomes at time: that humans are not the products of intelligent design; that we lack considerable knowledge about the actual nature of all that exists (i.e., dark energy and dark matter); that climate change is real and that humans are most probably the cause of it.

One of the things I'd been concerned about, in creating this blog and in engaging with others, was the prevalence of gun violence in the United States.  I had an intuition that greater regulation could do something about it.  And that intuition may not necessarily be wrong, but it needs to be examined to be determined to be so.

But first, is gun violence greater in the US than in other comparable nations?  Assuming this information I found on Wikipedia is correct (and it's taken from different sources), firearm related deaths in the US are much lower than in at least a dozen other countries, including Honduras, Columbia, South Africa and Mexico (Mexico's only slightly higher than the US). 

However, it's still much higher than most comparable nations, by which I means nations with similar political stability, standard of living, etc.--what we generally might call 1st world nations.  In the US, per capita (100,000 people) 10 people die of firearm related causes. In Honduras its 64; Mexico, 11; Switzerland (which has at least approachable levels of gun ownership and being nationally comparable (i.e. political stability, standard of living, etc.), nearly 4 persons.  

Let's say that Switzerland is actually a good base point for judgment: if that were the case, then we'd have to say that gun violence, for the most of the United States, is not extraordinary, or even especially high. In at least 40 of the U.S. states, gun violence is lower or equal per capita than in Switzerland.  That means that in the remaining 10 states gun violence is high enough that it has increased the US's per capital gun violence to levels above 2.5 times above Switzerland.  

That is a fascinating discovery and honestly one that I had not anticipated.  

In the next post I'll talk about the correlation between gun violence and gun ownership, gun laws.  There are some unexpected discoveries here as well to be had.

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