Conservatives and Guns

This is a follow up to The Irony of McDonald v. Chicago. One cannot post anything about firearms here on the Intertubes without some Second Amendment Uber Alles activist showing up to explain that eliminating firearm restrictions reduces gun violence. Well, take a look at this chart:

Crime Statistics > Firearms Death Rate per 100,000 (most recent) by state

The data is from 2002, so most recent trends may differ. I believe these are deaths of all types, including accidents and suicides. Just note that the top 20 states in gun fatalities (I’m not counting the District of Columbia, which is an anomaly in several different ways) are all solid red. The bottom 10 states are all blue or purple.

Differences in the amount of firearm violence from one place to another can have many causes beside differences in the law. One of the low-violence states, New Hampshire, has very lenient firearm purchase and possession laws, although I believe most of the other low-violence states lean more in the direction of restrictions. The high-violence states tend to be more rural than urban, but so are some of the low-violence states. I’m not seeing a clear correlation between poverty levels and gun violence at the state level, although you might see that at a city level. I assume that Alaska — the most trigger-happy state in the nation — is not being overrun by illegal immigrants from Mexico. So the only conclusion one can draw from this data, I believe, is that there is a strong tendency for more conservative states to have a higher rate of firearm fatalities. Make of that what you will.

Note to firearm “libertarians”: Be polite, argue from facts with links, and address only what is discussed in this post, or your comments will be deleted. See comment policy.

Update: From the Stuff That Ought to Be Obvious Department — this is from a UPI story from 2008

States with high rates of gun ownership have the highest firearm death rates, an analysis by a U.S. non-profit group found. …

…The five states with the highest per capita gun death rates — Louisiana, Alaska, Montana, Tennessee and Alabama — had a per capita gun death rate far exceeding the national per capita gun death rate of 10.32 per 100,000.

Louisiana had the highest rate of gun death, 19.04 per 100,000 and has household gun ownership of 45.6 percent. Alaska had a gun death rate 17.49 per 100,000 and household gun ownership of 60.6 percent. Montana had a gun death rate of 17.22 per 100,000 and 61.4 percent gun ownership.

Conversely, states with the lowest levels of gun ownership had the lowest levels of gun death rates.

Hawaii has a household gun ownership of 9.7 percent and a gun death rate of 2.20 per 100,000. Massachusetts has 12.8 percent rate of gun ownership and a gun death rate of 3.48 per 100,000. Rhode Island has a household gun ownership of 13.3 percent and a gun death rate of 3.63 per 100,000, the researchers said.

26 thoughts on “Conservatives and Guns

  1. It’s worth noting that Alaska has/had the highest suicide rate (State cross tabs are about halfway down).
    I didn’t look at other high gun death states to see if they also have higher suicide rates, wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see a correlation. So maybe more guns leads to more successful suicide attempts?

    I’m fine with private ownership of guns and don’t see a problem with some restrictions (eg felon in possession laws, background checks). I am curious about how many of the gun deaths were due to firearms use by legally permitted owners (CCW permit holders), and how many were self defense.

  2. Juxtapose this chart with each of the following:
    -Lowest education levels.
    -Lowest percentage of college grads.
    -Highest levels of people living at, or below, the poverty line.
    -Highest teenage pregnancy.
    -Highest infant mortality rates.
    -Highest levels of diabetes.
    -Highest levels of heart disease.
    -Highest levels of domestic violence.
    -States that have far more tax money received from, than tax money paid to, the Federal government.

    I’m too lazy to find the links for you. But I’ve seen them in the last few years, as I’m sure many of you have too.
    All “Red” States.
    All pro-gun, pro-Christ, anti-Liberal, anti-abortion, anti-immigrant.
    And it’s their Congressmen who slow down, and their Senators who constantly throw a monkey-wrench into, any progress. The same vermin who formed a conga-line behind Bush into disasterous deregulation, tax cuts, then wars, and now occupations – all unfunded.
    And now screaming about deficits.

    Oh, I forgot one chart, though it might be hard to find – Highest level of gullible, unempathetic morons who don’t know when to STFU and admit they’ve done far more harm to this country than any foreign entity ever could.
    Please, I beg of you, SECEDE ALREADY!
    If they don’t, can we kick them out?

  3. I have no problem either with regulated gun ownership; it’s our national, fanatical, guns-are-the-answer obsession that bothers me. It’s no surprise, given this bizarre belief system, that maha’s posts on gun restriction draw the most trolls.

    If a person loses their job, or custody of their kids, or is served with divorce papers or has their car repossessed, they need to leave their guns locked on the altar/in the cabinet and solve their problems by thinking. Pick up any newspaper, anywhere in the U.S., on any given day and you’ll see we’re not ready to do this. And, bottom line, obsession and irrational argument aren’t useful to support gun ownership. The trolls are self-defeating.

  4. How will we ever have any fun here if everybody is going to be so sensible and thoughtful? Ride to the sound of the guns! Remember the R who used to wind up his speeches with that one?

  5. Montana has a high level of gun suicide, similar to Alaska. We had an example of this within the family (which occasionally hunts). Easy access to guns may make depressives more likely to try to kill themselves. Sorry, no links!

  6. I wonder how many of the deaths were children who accidentally got a hold of the family gun; or, children who were shot by a parent who committed suicide after shooting the children.

  7. The guns issue is yet another way in which the term “conservative” is oxymoronic, if not Orwellian. In many ways, what we call “conservatives” do not in fact conserve. Not the environment, not the budget, not human life.

    On the other hand, do liberals liberate?

  8. On the other hand, do liberals liberate?

    Hmm, interesting question. In this instance, where “to liberate” would mean essentially “to allow others to discharge firearms into the air at will and hope they don’t kill bystanders,” I’d have to say no.

  9. …just a thought for consideration….

    While first stipulating that I fully understand the problem of gun violence and am fully supportive of efforts like those of the Chicago City Council to strike back at this week’s SCOTUS ruling on its gun control efforts in an effort to quell gun violence, I will observe that it may be that I have to finally acknowledge once and for all that I fall outside some sort of ‘proper’ line describing the Democratic party, because I would dispute that – from that cited 2002 list – either # 13 Montana (Democratic governor and US Senators and State House leadership, despite what one might think about those incumbents as individuals) or # 8 New Mexico (with it’s Democratic governor and Democratic dominance of both state and federal elected legislative offices) are part of some “Top 20” list of “Solid red” states…

  10. Nobody has yet to answer the question asked by Michael Moore in “Bowling for Columbine” and that is: Why in Canada where they have almost as many firearms per-capita as the US they have far fewer firearm related deaths? I think (I don’t know) that Canada has fewer hand guns, but nobody seems to want address Michael Moore’s question.

    • Why in Canada where they have almost as many firearms per-capita as the US they have far fewer firearm related deaths?

      I think one difference is social/cultural values. Why did Canada abolish the death penalty and not the U.S.? Why do Canadians value providing health care for everyone and not the U.S.? How did Canada avoid the decades of warfare between the indigenous tribes and white settlers, which happened in the U.S.? (Put another way, show me the Canadian equivalent of Wounded Knee or the Little Big Horn.)

  11. When I was managing a shelter for homeless women, there were two women in residence who had shot their husbands – one in self-defense, the other because he was having an affair with his secretary – the former got a year in jail and was on probation, the latter had money, hired a high-powered lawyer and got off with a hand-slap (those rulings are a whole other issue.)

    What would the women have done if there had been no handguns available in their homes. Each told me that she regretted, and would always regret, what she had done but at the time the gun was there so she used it. I wonder how many cases there are when the gun is there so it’s used – and like the women much regretted later on.

  12. phastphil – can’t answer your question but my Russian stepfather once told me how shocked he was to learn (1905) in school (Moscow, Russia) from his teacher that America had the highest murder rate of any country in the world. His ‘shock’ was that he had thought of this country as the land of milk and honey and all things good and blah, blah, blah.

    Crime, murder and just plain one-on-one violence seem almost endemic to America which hardly leads to the conclusion that we should all be armed with lethal weapons. (The self-defense argument, in my head, seems almost frivolous.)

  13. Hey, Joan,
    Off topic – do you Nebraskans ever call him “Ben”edict Nelson? Or is “Ben”edict Arnold Nelson better?
    If not, please start.
    BTW, I heard he’s made HIS contribution to the unemployment mess – he said he’d run again in 2012. Whew! One less in line.
    I know you’ll do whatever you can to make sure he leaves the Senate (yeah, I know, for an even more lucrative lobbying gig, but, what the Hell…).

  14. C U N D Go;ag said – “Juxtapose this chart with each of the following:
    -Lowest education levels….”

    It’s on the chart Barbara has the link to – on the left side . Best Educated States.. scroll down the list for the *least* educated state – Who gets the prize – Arizona…. LOL

  15. Gulag – generally, our “Dem” senator’s proper form of address is “Nelson, you a**hole.” Otherwise, we rarely speak of him. Seems if he’s ousted by a raging right-wing Republican in 2012 (I think it is), it really won’t matter because he’s 99% right-wing R already.

  16. Doug,
    Thanks, I missed that.
    WTF happened to CA? 46th on the list? Another feather in the cap of the Reagan Revolution, I guess…

  17. I’m surprised that Florida made such a poor showing on the gun violence rankings. I would have guessed we’d be among the top three. A day doesn’t go by when somebody gets shot here in the Sunshine State. And now that Florida lawmakers passed the “stand your ground law” you can blow somebody away if you just feel threatened by them.

    Used to be that in order to legally kill somebody they had to be breaking into your house with a weapon,coming at you, but now you can waste them while standing in the checkout line at the local supermarket if they get in your face after you cut ahead of them in the line. The only criteria is to feel physically threatened. It’s a law that borders on insanity, and since it’s enactment almost every shooting that been protected by that law is jaw dropping in it’s particulars. It’s like they encourage people to shoot other people because they know they can get away with it. I think it’s a law they copied from Texas.

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  19. Swami,
    Y’all are threatenin’ mah beliefs. And Ah feel physically threatened bah yoh LIBERAL position.
    Now, back off, shut up, or I’ll SHOOT!!!

  20. Whoa. I hadn’t heard about that new law. Definitely puts FL on my “Do Not Visit” list.

  21. I’ll take some wild guesses, maha. Canada is still part of GB where there is no death penalty and which has universal health-care. Canada, except along the border with us, was sparsely settled which may have meant less settlers moving on to (usurping is the right word) Indian land, thus less conflicts.

    And we can’t forget that Canada is governed by a Parliament whereas we continue to try and make this disastrous Presidential System work. (I haven’t given hope for us when I remember that it took 1200 years for people to finally admit that indeed the earth went around the sun rather than vice versa – but not until, of course they’d burned countless souls at the stake for even suggesting it.)

  22. Canada didn’t dumb down their education over the last 50 years, either. America’s public school system has had the ‘lowest common denominator’ problem for a very long time – schools only teach to the level of the dumbest kid in the class.

    I’ve seen that with my children, my youngest daughter is in first grade and is way ahead of her classmates (her grades show that she was operating at mid-2nd grade level when she started first grade). She sits there in school bored out of her skull, mindlessly filling in the workbooks and getting top marks all the while.

    Canada still teaches their children things like critical thinking. And Canada doesn’t have Fox News to dumb down the already dumb adults. The sole purpose of Fox News is clearly to de-educate America.

    As to guns, I firmly believe guns should be regulated by population density. Cities like New York (and Chicago) are right to have extremely strict gun control laws. In New York you must have a damned good reason to even ask for a license to carry a loaded gun, one job is Diamond Carrier. I lived in New York City for 20 years and never once felt like I needed a firearm for ‘self-defense’.

    The ‘self-defense’ argument is a huge crock of $#!*, it has no factual merit whatsoever, and is a wholly invented line of ‘reasoning’ not based in fact. According to the wording of the 2nd Amendment, the reason we even have the right to ‘keep and bear arms’ is to be a part of a ‘well-regulated militia’, being ‘necessary to the security of a free state’. I don’t see ‘self-defense’ in there anywhere, therefore the self defense argument is NOT constitutional and has no bearing on any 2nd Amendment legal hearings. That whole line of BS really translates into ‘because I wanna!” and that’s not good enough.

  23. I lived in New York City for 20 years and never once felt like I needed a firearm for ‘self-defense’.

    NYC has lower violent crime rates than most other large cities in the U.S. There’s a handy table at Wikipedia that lets you do data sorting, and of U.S. cities with 1 million or more in population NYC has the second lowest rates of homicide and aggravated assault (lowest was San Diego) and the lowest rate of forcible rape.

    I count 76 cities in the chart, which I assume are the 76 largest cities. Of those New York comes in at 56th in homicide rates. A whole lot of smaller midwestern and southern cities have much higher homicide rates.

    Of all the cities, including smaller ones, you’re far more likely to be murdered in New Orleans, assaulted in St. Louis, and raped in Cleveland.

  24. “NYC has lower violent crime rates than most other large cities in the U.S.”

    Sure, now. I lived there in the ’80s, when the crime rate was much higher, when corner stores locked up tight at 9 PM and every purchase after that was made through a bullet-proof-lexan passthrough, when liquor stores were also behind lexan and there was only one narrow hallway for the patron to stand in and point at the bottles they wanted. When bars on the windows were mandatory or people would simply climb right in in the middle of the night. When there was still graffiti all over the subways.

    What changed? The Clinton ’90s, when the economy was booming because a Democrat was in charge. That’s what made the crime rate go down. Some would say it was fascist dictator Rudy Giuliani, but no, all he did was arrest street artists and other sidewalk vendors.

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