Statistics and Gun Laws
“Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming allow lawful firearm owners to carry concealed firearms without a permit.”(1) The average murder rate in these states is 3.1 per 100,000 people which is well below the national average.(2)
I wanted to see if there was a correlation between states that are very lenient regarding citizen’s ability to conceal carry (states listed above) and those state’s murder rates. I also wanted to see how these states compared to very strict states regarding conceal carry. I tried to be fair in comparing the states by choosing from the list of stricter states the four with the lowest murder rates.(3) It was impossible to control for population as the average population of Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming is only 2,072,903 while the average population of the selected stricter states was 5,068,480. Also, when doing comparisons like this it is impossible to have a 100% airtight comparison as other factors such as demographics, cultural differences, socio-political views etc… will never be exactly the same for each set of data. So there are definitely variables that seem to affect the fairness of these comparisons which goes to show that gun violence issues cannot always be settled by pointing to the numbers and drawing quick inferences from the data. It is easy for both sides of the argument to be inclined to search for data that supports their argument. Confirmation bias aside, the numbers do show interesting results that should be included in the national debate on guns.
When comparing the list of lenient states with the murder rate number to four very strict states (Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey(4), I found that the numbers were not very far apart. Lenient states had a 3.1 murder rate and strict states had 3.2. From this we can infer that there is a negative correlation between the factors of strictness of the state’s laws against gun owners and murder rate in the states. The stricter the laws, the higher the murder rate.
Also, an interesting thing happens when we juxtapose gun ownership percentage with murder rates in these two groups. The average gun ownership percentage among the lenient states was 47.65% versus 12.07% in the stricter states. So there was also a negative correlation when comparing gun ownership and murder rates. If any positive correlations can be made when looking at these groups of states, it would be when comparing population to murder rate. The higher the average population, the higher the murder rate. These numbers would have been drastically skewed if numbers from California, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, or New York were admitted. For example, California has a 21.3% gun owner percentage and a 4.9 murder rate. D.C. has a 3.6% owner percentage and a 21.8 murder rate.(5)
It could be suggested from the data that it would be wise to move to a more gun friendly state or city with a lower population density. Indeed the only positive correlation in this review dealt with murder rate and average population size. I think there are also other reasons to move from the higher population states which included lower cost of living, less traffic, less people, more family friendly, and less smog. However, these conclusions need to be decided on a family-by-family basis according to what is best for them. Keep in mind that this data should be kept in context; there are areas in lenient states that have high murder rates as well as areas in strict states that have very low murder rates.
This was written in attempt to show the usefulness and limits of statistical analysis. It was also written with the purpose of helping our national legislators tap the brakes by thinking prudently and not merely in reaction to national tragedies. We cannot always legislate problems away even though we have 435 professional legislators in D.C. who think that is the only way to solve problems. If gun control advocates want changes, they should call upon their state governors and legislators to create change if they believe that is the best route. A centralized, one-size-fits-all answer is rarely beneficial or flexible when issues are happening close to home. States and people can obviously keep and bear arms responsibly without Uncle Sam treating law abiding citizens like children. If you are thinking that the Federal government does not have enough oversight or say in gun related law please see United States Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 44, Section 922 for the pages and pages of laws that are already there.(6)
———————————————————————————————————– —————————————————————————- 1. http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp#f97– This report is using total murder rate and NOT just murder with firearms.
2. Data was calculated using numbers found at https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Gun_violence_in_the_United_State…
3. There are a total of 9 states that I define as “strict” based on their conceal carry laws and other legislation related to gun control. States include Illinois, D.C., California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. The four chosen in this comparison were Hawai’i, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
4. – these states are considered “may issue” states meaning that local officials have discretion as to whether or not citizens may obtain a permit based upon several factors such as immediate danger which the applicant has to back up with facts and evidence of their immediate need. Some “may-issue” states act effectively as “shall-issue states and others like Illinois or New Jersey act effectively as “no-issue” states based upon how they implement their laws (http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp#f97) 5.https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Gun_violence_in_the_United_State…