The hits just keep on coming for those poor benighted fools who still bitterly cling to the notion that "gun control" is the correct course of action. It is that time of the year again, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has released their 2011 Uniform Crime Report; the highlights? 3.8% drop in violent crime from last year, and a 15.4% drop over the past five years, and all this despite (or, perhaps, because?) of increasingly liberal firearm-related laws, increasing numbers of people getting their carry permits, and increasing numbers of firearms in circulation.
Funny how that works.
But all of this happy new information gives us this update to the "graphics matter" series:
All previous disclaimers and explanations still apply, with this one additional detail: along with the Census Bureau, the Small Arms Survey of 2003, the BATFE Annual Firearm Manufacturers and Export Report, Radical Gun Nuttery, and the FBI UCR itself, I also used the Shooting Industry Magazine’s mirror of BATFE import data (why the BATFE Memory Holes information older than 2006, I am not sure).
Anywise, as we can clearly see, firearm ownership took a marked jump around the 2008-2009 range (I wonder why?), while the total number crimes committed with firearms (CCwF) have been decreasing at various rates since 2007 and the rate of CCwF has been decreasing since 2006. Why, it is almost like the number of firearms in public circulation has absolutely no bearing on the number of crimes committed with those firearms!
Lo and behold, it does not. If we solve for the Pearson correlation coefficient for the raw numbers of firearms in circulation against the raw numbers of crimes committed with firearms, you find that ‘r’-value to be -0.45541 – a weak, negative correlation.
Then if we do what all good statisticians should do and consider rates instead of raw numbers, the rate of firearm ownership correlates to the rate of CCwF with a coefficient of -0.59906 – an arguably strong, negative correlation.
You will note that I am leaving out last year’s correlation numbers from this discussion; there is, in fact, a reason for this. As mentioned previously, this year’s information integrates data regarding the importation of firearms into America – something that had not been included with previous iterations of this graphic. While this increased data set gives us more-accurate information over the long run, it also means we cannot compare data sets that do not include these importation numbers to data sets that do include them. In other words, we will have to wait until next year to see how the numbers trend. (Yes, I could go back and recalculate the previous years’ numbers, but I am lazy, and you can do it yourself if you are really interested, given I make the spreadsheet freely available.)
The takeaway from all of this? The hypothesis that "more guns = more ‘gun violence’" is demonstrably false over the course of the past decade and a half.
(Of interesting note, I received the suggestion to integrate a line on the chart showing the violent crime rate as a whole; while the data is in the spreadsheet now, I refrained from actually adding the line, since it ended up hanging out with the rate lines, and that part of the chart was busy enough as it is. In any case, the total number of violent crimes in America has been steadily decreasing, almost without break, for the past 17 years – those numbers have not suffered from the same, wild, roller-coaster ups-and-downs that "crimes committed with firearms" seems to be afflicted by. I have no good explanation as to why criminals favor firearms one year and not the next, but it is interesting regardless.)