Friday, June 20, 2014

Gun violence in the US, Part 2: the bad states

First, as an aside I want to point out that discussion on another site (PAGunBlog) has suggested that some of the information I am using may be flawed.  Most of this is coming a Wikipedia chart from 2010.  I guess I'm interested in pursuing it at this time because the information seems conducive to the arguments of gun rights proponents and I want to see how this will develop.  But so at any rate, I know these conclusions are dubitable beyond heuristic value.*
In the last post I claimed that gun violence may not be that bad if considered against a reasonable analog (Switerzland) where guns ownership/possession and basic social-political conditions are comparable.  That is, around 40 states have gun violence levels below the levels in Switzerland (3.84 per capita).  Although the per capita level of violence in the US is 10 firearm related deaths, that figure is arrived at by considerable (percentage-wise) deviations in the other 10 states.  Most notably, D.C. had approximately 16 firearm related death per capita.  That is at least 500% increase over most of the US.

So what are the states where firearm related murders exceeded these levels?  They are:
DC: 16.5%
Louisiana: 7.7%
Missouri: 5.4%
Maryland: 5.1%
South Carolina: 4.5%
Delaware: 4.2%
Michigan: 4.2%
Mississippi: 4.0%
Florida: 3.9%
Georgia: 3.8%
Just to be clear, it's actually only 9 states that exceed the Switzerland bar. Georgia is equal to it.

Not for gun rights proponents, it is very important that DC is at the top of this list because this is a city that has enacted serious gun control and obviously it has failed.  I think this point is probably true.  Of course, the response to this, which I think is simply intuitively persuasive (although it may not be right), is that trafficking guns from states where gun control is limited to DC is practically unenforceable.  Are you going to stop every car and search for guns?  That's a 4thA violation.

If you look at the majority of these states, you'll probably anticipate where these gun murders occur, and that is in the major metropolitan areas located in those states.  New Orleans, St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, Miami?.

One of the things I think we can conclude in these respects is that, as onerous as some of the tragedies are that receive media attention, they are anomalous in respect of most of the US.  Most of the US doesn't have a problem with gun violence--again, assuming Switzerland is the bar for what is and is not acceptable.

Gun violence is primarily an urban problem and a problem in states with major urban areas.

* Also, I want to say that these reflections have changed some of my fundamental intuitions about both gun violence and gun control.  Before these reflections I was anti-2ndA, anti-CC and anti-OC (and then the title of this blog was Against the 2nd Amendment and the description was similar).  After these reflections I've decided that I am no longer against the 2ndA, for the most part, and do not think that gun violence in general requires its abolition.  Moreover, I'm not against CC anymore.  I don't like it, really, but I think that the licensing of CC is adequate.  I'm still against OC, but reading about the OC experiment of Caleb on Gun Nuts Media has actually given me faith that even it could be reasonable, given certain conditions.  


  1. Your "gun trafficking" argument to explain/apologize for DC's high gun homicide rate falls apart once you consider other US territories with high amounts of gun control. Puerto Rico is a perfect example of a place that follows US law, is filled with Americans, has oppressive gun control laws, and has a very high gun homicide rate. Oh, and it's an island, so you can't blame its gun violence problem on surrounding states. Which you seem determined to do.

    You seem determined to disprove the Law of Parsimony.

  2. I hate to say this, because it will seem like yet another violation of the law of parsimony, but even if the Puerto Rico case definitely proved that there restrictive gun regulations did not solve gun violence, that would not mean that the "trafficking" explanations in DC and Chicago were still false.

    As for PR, it's not as though guns are outlawed there. In fact, it seems just like there is a somewhat complicated process to get a gun. But not that you cannot. Moreover, as you probably know, firearms are also frequently traced back to Florida.

    So you are also a fan of William of Ockham? I am definitely not "determined" to disprove the law of parsimony.

    But I take it your view is that PR proves definitively that trafficking cannot be the explanation for DC and Chicago? To me it seems like such an incredible simple, one might say parsimonious, explanation.

    Does your appreciation for parsimony incline you to support CDC research into gun violence?


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