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graphics matter, year the fourth, part two

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:

americanpopulationfirearmscrimes

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.)

9 comments to graphics matter, year the fourth, part two

  • Martin

    Have taken liberty to link to this entry and your blog. The jpg I took to place directly on my short blurb. Please let me know if you would rather not have that and I will just link (or even delete my blog blurp).
    You can see the blurp at “bgdcheck.wordpress.com”

    Regards, Martin

  • [...] thanks to a dedicated blogger Walls of the city the proof is in this graphic. See yourself for the whole entry. Why –  despite the open availability of the raw numbers and the voluntary [...]

  • [...] has Year Four of his Graphics Matter series up. And there’s a big surprise! Anywise, as we can clearly see, firearm ownership took a [...]

  • Excellent work, as always!

  • [...] this data and converting it to graphics for us for several years now. With the 2011 report out, he does it again. Here is the graphic that he created to show the [...]

  • @ Martin: You seem to have done a fine job citing it, not a problem :). My primary complaint in the past has been against sites that did not link to the original source material and then misrepresented what the graph was showing; you did neither.

    @ Jake: Thank you kindly :).

  • I have no good explanation as to why criminals favor firearms one year and not the next, but it is interesting regardless.

    I suspect it’s because of the incarceration cycle. The FBI UCR maintains data on three major violent crimes where firearms are used; Murder/Non-negligent Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Robbery. Obviously, those convicted murder will spend a lot of time in jail, but murder only makes up 1.2% of the violent crime. The next most serious crime, robbery, makes up about 30% of the violent crime. Persons convicted of this crime will spend just a few years in jail. The third, aggravated assault, makes up 62.4% of violent crime, people convicted of this crime will spend very little time in jail, if any. This last group is the persons going through the revolving door of the criminal justice system; locked up one year, then out the next or two to re-offend. That’s just my opinion, but I’m almost an #insurrectionist.

  • You may be on to something, but I have no way of proving you right or wrong. The massive slope down from the early ’90s is largely due to economic and drug-related crime that was running rampant around then. The steady rise only makes sense given the population continues to rise, and then the drop-off… well, I do not know.

    And that is one of the points of these graphs – there are so very many details and variables that go into determining whether crime will go up or down this year, trying to blame it all on one particular aspect is just plain stupid :).