Blog   Index   Scriba   Consulting   Hobby   Policy   Contact 


Checking the control of firearms

If you had told me a year ago that I would write an article about gun control, I would have thought you were insane. Alas, here I am, trying to be sane while putting together statistics that go in the face of what is considered "common knowledge" around here.

After the Sandy Hook shooting, the issue of gun control in the USA has lit up again, with all the typical arguments back and forth and people not listening to each other. And as usual, the "second amendment" side of the argument often does not see the difference between gun control and gun ban.

Also, there is a lot of pointing to the fact that tobacco is a much greater cause for death than gun violence as a reason not to do anything about gun violence. By this logic, we should also eliminate research on HIV, since tobacco tops also this.

That said, one of the main arguments of the gun control side is that the greater the gun density, the greater the homicide-by-gun-rate. One video I found on the subject made a very strange selection of countries to compare with, creating a feeling of a very biased view. So I continued searching until I found some interesting world data at the Guardian with gun ownership and gun violence rates are listed per country in the entire world.

As is typical, data is presented in a huge table made to confuse you, as you are able to digest only small portions of the data at a time. To see if there is a correlation, one needs to put it in a 2D graph. And so I did:

The USA is to the far right. Honduras is top left. One could argue that the countries with gun homicide rates above 10 are suffering from something far worse than the number of guns, and that a pattern for gun control may be found if we remove countries with civil war, lack of law, etc. So I removed all countries with a gun violence rate above 5, and got this:

I was a bit surprised to see this. There is only a slight indication that there is a correlation between gun density and gun related homicides when the homicide rate drops below 1. However, even then, it is very clear that other factors have a much greater impact on gun related homicides than the number of guns.

So if gun violence is a symptom, then gun control is a superficial treatment of  the symptom, and a sleeping pillow for those who think gun control alone is the number one factor. It does not address the real question: why do so many people want to hurt other people? What is it about society in each of these countries that make people more or less violent? If you can answer that question and implement strategies to correct the social issues, that is likely to have a much greater impact than gun control alone.