your government, hard at work

Why do I oppose firearm registrations?  Well, one of the many reasons is that the government cannot seem to keep track of the registries it has already. 

For those of you who do not follow me on the Book of Faces, I seem to have acquired employment, and hopefully start getting paid again on this coming Monday.  In order to facilitate that, my employer has to run background checks on me, as well as verify that I am eligible to work here in the US (in short, be a citizen or legal alien). 

When I was born, I was, of course, enrolled in the government-run Ponzi scheme known as “Social Security”, and of course have a unique identifier number to go along with it.  Likewise, since I have been out of the States on occasion, I have a passport with its own, disjoint unique identifier number on it. 

Apparently the Department of Homeland Security, in all of its infinite wisdom, firmly believes that some combination of my birthdate, my SSN, and my passport number do not match, and is therefore tossing an E-Verify “Tentative Noncomfirmation” back at my prospective employer and me. 

The best part?  It is on me, the private citizen, to unscrew this idiotic federal Charlie Foxtrot.  I have verified the information repeatedly now, I have held multiple security clearances, I have passed more background checks than I care to count, and I am obviously an American citizen, but the DHS is refusing to own up to it. 

If the FedGov cannot keep track of essential data like who is or is not a citizen and what identification numbers are or are not tied to the person in question, how good of a job do you honestly think they will do when it comes to keeping track of non-essential data like who owns what firearm?  Do you think no-knock raids are bad now?  Just wait until tac’d-out door-kickers hit up Jane Smith, 90-year-old arthritic grandmother, because James Smith has an “assault weapon” he neglected to inform the feds about. 

When did “land of the free” get replaced with “papiere, bitte!”? 

unsurprisingly, i have never been polled

A (not so) recent post by Thirdpower reminded me of something I had been meaning to post about for a while now.

Consider every “poll” you see suspect until you can see the source data.

Yes, that is an unquestionably bold statement, but bear with me a moment. To begin with, only 9% of those people called actually comply with the pollsters. Nine percent. This problem compounds itself with the majority of the non-responders typically self-identifying as “Republican” or “Independent”, but the fact remains that those who respond to polls are those who want to take them, which creates a certain level of bias in the results.

To be certain, pollsters have gotten tremendously good at “compensating” for that bias, but once you start normalizing numbers, the bias of the person running – or paying for – the poll rears its ugly little head as well.

However, that was not the real reason I wanted to write this post; instead, there is this small detail that far too many people forget, or never actually knew: pollsters cannot robocall cell phones. Or, rather, they can, but it is illegal for them to do so.

As Pew Research explains, or, really, rationalizes, this legal block drastically increases the costs of polling cell phone owners, because numbers have to be dialed manually, the pollster company might have to reimburse the cell phone user for airtime (less so these days, though), not everyone who has a cell phone is old enough to be polled, people tend to check their caller IDs better on their cell phones, and various other reasons. In the end, the vast majority of pollsters simply do not bother.

How does this affect things? Well, take a look at this report from the CDC (*.pdf warning) regarding how many households tend to be cell-phone-only (i.e. do not have a landline at all) and how that skews the demographics. Do note that this survey was conducted in person, so it it is arguably more accurate than robocall surveys.

In short, 35.8% of households are “wireless-only” as of JUN12, with the overwhelming majority of 18-34 year-olds falling under that heading. Men were slightly (3%) more likely to be wireless-only than women, the Northeast is significantly less likely to be wireless-only, and Hispanics were more likely than non-Hispanics. In all cases, the trend has been steadily increasing since 2003 (when the total wireless-only households were around 3%), and if the current growth continues, it would not surprise me to see the majority of all American households being wireless-only by 2020.

Now, with the younger generations being markedly underrepresented, the Northeast being overrepresented, and various other hiccups and speedbumps along the way, how do you think that will affect the outcome of polls, and specifically polls relating to firearms? The ranks of young recreational shooters are growing every year, and getting more and more vociferous about their hobbies and rights, while the Northeast is notoriously a bastion of authoritarianism and anti-firearms sentiment – one need only look at NYC for a perfect example of both.

Sure, now that the specific error percentages are known, pollsters can account for it – to some extent – but will they, and how will they? The farther and farther you get from the source data, the less accurate information can become; it all depends on who or what is separating you from the originals.

Which brings us back to my original point – if someone is unwilling to share their source data with you, and then show you how they got from point A to point B, I would strongly advise against believing a word they have to say. They might be correct, for all we know, but that is rather the problem – we do not know, and unless someone can demonstrably prove their case to me through a logical chain of facts and reasoning, I simply cannot bring myself to care.

(And, as always, our individual rights – as observed and protected by the Constitution – are not subject to popular opinion or poll approval. Even if the Second Amendment itself were amended out of existence, I, as a living, breathing, thinking human being, would still retain the rights to self-defense and ownership of private property, and from those rights the right to own firearms logically extends.)

you should read this guy

After almost two years of absence, Reputo is back, and is hard at work making up for my laziness regarding statistics and hard numbers. First off, he looks at the actual monetary costs of the various school-safety solutions floated thus far, then the costs in terms of crime, and finally the specious notion that saving one life is worth any cost, closing with a positively epic quote:

Some like to point to England with their 50 gun murders a year as an example for the US to follow. Really, so you would be satisfied if the US only had 300 gun murders (adjusted up for population)? Say that to yourself, "I would be satisfied with 300 gun murders a year." I wouldn’t be, I want 0 murders. Would you be willing to trade more violence (but less death) in the US for a lower number of gun murders? Kids being maimed by a psycho with a molotov cocktail is preferable? Even if it is 10 times as many kids? Sorry, that logic defies my understanding. It is a comparison that a rational person cannot make. Trading one for the other is not fair, regardless of the multiplier you apply. I want less crime (I care not whether it is committed with a gun or with bare hands). So I continue to research ways that we have reduced crime and advocate those (surprisingly, probably the largest decrease in crime has nothing to do with our control, but involves the relative population size of 15-29 year old males to the rest of the country).

Likewise, I cannot understand the mentality that would be willing to trade X murders for Y rapes/assaults/batteries/etc., and have said as much in the past, but the average anti-rights cultists out there seem to believe this would be a perfectly reasonable, rational exchange to make… as if the decision was theirs to make at all. I am not in the habit of putting value on human lives, and those who do so are only trying to figure out how best to balance out yours.

Coincidentally, my father was just speaking a few nights ago about a 100% guaranteed-to-work solution to stopping almost all school shootings, mass shootings, and probably mass murders in general – ban all males under the age of 30 (given the premise that 99% of the perpetrators of those crimes fall in that demographic). Hey, if it saves one life, it must be worth it, right? He is at least willing to hold off on the ban until my birthday later this year…

Not content to leave it there, however, Reputo goes on to look at NY’s new laws, old laws, and the ineffectiveness of both, complete with a challenge to the "gun control" extremists out there:

But don’t we need to do something? Why? If whatever we are proposing to do has already been shown to be ineffective, why burden the government with more laws to enforce or burden the people with more laws to break. But, what if one life were saved? One life hasn’t been saved. There is no evidence that gun control has helped the crime situation. If you think that one life will be saved, show me the evidence.

I echo his sentiments – if there is actual, concrete, verifiable data indicating that "gun control" has a salutary impact on crime rates, then present it, and let us have a look at it*. Otherwise, kindly sit down and shut up; the adults are talking.

(* – Note: given the increasing dataset of crime rates, population trends, and countless other variables, the distinct and marked lack of any causal evidence of the efficacy of "gun control" in reducing crime is starting to look like evidence of absence.)

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.)

graphics matter, year the fourth, updated, again

Thank God for my helpful readers.

Last time around, thanks to commenter TS, we were able to integrate importation numbers into the "graphics matter" series of posts, which only served to perforate the "more guns = more deaths" hypothesis even worse. Unfortunately, though, Shooting Industry Magazine rearranged their site sufficiently that some data was apparently lost, and I had to drop the 1981-1985 section of the graph due to not being able to adequately source my numbers; I will leave the wholesale fabrication of statistics to the "gun control" extremists.

shootingindustrymagazinefirearmproductionThis time around, Hoplophobic Healer reminded me that the WayBack Machine does exist, and after digging around its guts for a few minutes, I was able to find this archived page documenting firearm production from 1982 until 2001 (said page screencaptured to the right, just in case it tries to disappear too). Unfortunately, the Shooting Industry Magazine did not track imports that far back, but at least we have domestic production numbers again, and based on that, I have decided to go ahead and add the 1981-1985 section back to the graph.

For reference, the 1981 year was chosen for the lower bound of this graph simply because WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports do not go any farther back. I know there are sources that do go farther back, but then you run into the question of whether or not they track their information the same way WISQARS does, and that just throws this whole graphic into question. (And, yes, I am well aware that WISQARS changed how they code their data between 1998 and 1999, but if you look into the explanations of what all they changed and why, none of it really affects the numbers we are looking at.)

So enough of this jibber-jabber, right? As with before, all previous disclaimers, details, and other important stuff still apply, including using the Shooting Industry Magazine as a source again. Now, on with the show:

americanpopulationfirearmsdeaths2009-3

I am again going to dispense with the acres of text, and instead consolidate it all down to this disclaimer: you CAN compare the correlation coefficients in this dataset to the correlation coefficients in the previous 1981-2009 datasets, but NOT the 1986-2009 one I put up last week. Y’know, just to make things more confusing. Things, of course, did change with the re-inclusion of those five years, which is why I always maintain that more data is more better:

The raw number of firearms in America correlated to the raw number of firearm-related fatalities with a coefficient of -0.41741, which is a little stronger than before including the firearm importation numbers.

The rate of firearm ownership in America correlated to the rate of firearm-related fatalities with a coefficient of -0.80373, which is significantly stronger than before.

In other words, what I said before only continues to hold true: the hypothesis "more guns = more deaths" cannot be true in the fame of reference of American society over the past almost-three decades.

Again, unlike the anti-rights cultists who are currently weeping into their bourbon at the sight of those numbers, I am more than happy to show my work – after all, if I did not, I would never have you kind people to thank for filling in the holes I made.

graphics matter, year the fourth, updated

[Please disregard this post, and instead reference this updated version, which has more data.]

No, unfortunately, the FBI has not released a finalized version of their 2011 Uniform Crime Report (it is scheduled for September), so I cannot update the second half of this post series, but commenter TS brought up a very valid point on the 2009 update for the CDC side of this post: what about firearms imported into America? I actually had that conversation in email with Howard Nemerov last year, but neither of us could figure out a single, consistent source of numbers for that particular statistic, so we never really got anywhere.

However, TS thankfully pointed me towards the Firearms Commerce in the United States, Annual Statistical Update which tracks production and import numbers from 1986 all the way up to 2011, and I had exactly what I needed.

Or, well, most of what I needed. As I mentioned previously, the Shooting Industry Magazine’s U.S. Firearm Industry Report has vanished from their site, and with it went all of my firearm production data from 1981 to 1986. I have searched high and low for such information elsewhere on the ‘net, and I have contacted SIM to absolutely no avail, and I have since concluded that if I cannot adequately source the data, I cannot really present that data as factual, so I have dropped 1981, ’82, ’83, ’84, and ’85 from the "Graphics Matter" dataset. I do not really want to do this (as I have always maintained, more data is more better), but if I cannot adequately source my numbers, I am no better than the "gun control" extremists whose arguments I am destroying with these posts.

So, without further ado, the newly-updated pretty picture:

americanpopulationfirearmsdeaths2009-2

As you can see, if you compare this one against the previous version (and remember that this one only covers from 1986-forward, not 1981-forward), the slope of the "Number of Firearms" line is significantly steeper, which also means the downwards slopes of the "Firearm-Related Deaths per 100,000,000 People" and "Firearm-Related Deaths per 100,000,000 Firearms" are actually noticeable. The quicker folks amongst you are already putting together what that might mean.

I am going to dispense with the acres of text the previous posts are known for (except to say that all of the important stuff in them is applicable here as well), and get to the stuff you really want to hear about… right after this important disclaimer: you CANNOT compare the correlation coefficients in this dataset to any of the coefficients in any of the previous datasets. By lopping off those five years at the beginning, we change the playing field, and the coefficient numbers are no longer comparable (which is why I really did not want to do what I did); however, I dare say these current numbers speak for themselves.

So, with that said, the raw number of firearms in America correlates to the raw number of firearm-related fatalities in America with a Pearson coefficient of -0.63966, an arguably strong, negative correlation.

The rate of firearm ownership in America correlates to the rate of firearm-related fatalities in America with a Pearson coefficient of -0.86207, an inarguably strong, negative correlation.

At this point, it would be safe to say that the hypothesis "more guns = more deaths" cannot be true when that hypothesis is applied to American society.

If you want to check my math and see what else I omitted, the file is available here, and please, do, check it. I never would have had the opportunity to add into the importation numbers if TS had not checked my work, and I am sure there are other little details I am missing somewhere.

graphics matter, year the fourth

[Please consider this updated version of this post, which has integrated firearm importation data as well as production numbers.]

Thanks to the newest preliminary FBI stats on crime coming out recently (the past pattern was replicated again: crime is down overall), I was reminded that I needed to check up on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and see if they had updated their WISQARS system to include fatal injury data from 2009; lo and behold they had, so it is time to update last year’s Graphics Matter post:

image

We will follow with the pattern from last year and lead with the disclaimers first:

1. Intellectual property: While all of this data is publicly available from the sources listed below, it takes time and effort for me to collate it all together and present it in a (barely) understandable format. All of the images in this post are my original works and copyrighted by me. If you want to use any of these images, you are more than welcome to do so; however, I must formally request that you link back to this specific page and give full credit to me, the originator, when doing so.

2. Feedback: If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the graphs, my methodologies, my sources, my conclusions, or anything else, please post them here. I cannot and will not troll the internet checking the comments sections of all the webpages that link to this page trying to figure out what people think of this work. If you do not post it here, I will assume your concerns just are not important enough to express to me directly, and proceed accordingly. 

3. Fitting it all together: I had to fiddle with orders of magnitude to get all of the lines visible within the same general range, so ups-and-downs did not get minimized. This does not affect the accuracy of the data, it just moves lines around such that you can show them all on the same graph (so you can see the trending of various lines easier). Both the "American Population" line and the "Number of Firearms" line must be multiplied by 10,000 to give their "real" numbers. Additionally, the both forms of the "Rate of Firearm-Related Deaths" are presented in "X per 100,000,000". Again, this change does not affect the accuracy of the information presented (especially since I kept all the digits of each relevant data point, despite moving those numbers’ decimal points around). The important thing on this graph is trending, not specific numbers (although once you multiply by the appropriate order of magnitude, the numbers are still correct).

The "Number of Firearm-Related Death" line was not divided at all – its numbers are its numbers. However, be advised: this category includes "all Intents" of any fatal injury in which the "cause or mechanism" was a firearm, according to WISQARS – "all intents" includes "unintentional", "suicide", "homicide", "legal intervention", and "undetermined intent". This is done, with malice aforethought, to intentionally skew the numbers in favor of those who would support the "more guns = more deaths" hypothesis. Giving those people every benefit of the doubt makes it all the more priceless when their hypothesis is shown to be erroneous.

4. Where the numbers come from: The "American Population" and "Number of Firearm-Related Deaths" information came from WISQARS. Be advised: the CDC pulls their population numbers from the United States Census Bureau, who has a nasty habit of repeatedly going back and revising previous years’ estimates, so the historical numbers on these charts may periodically change.

The "Number of Firearms" was a little more tricky, though… I used the lower end of the range hypothesized in the Small Arms Survey of 2003 as my 2003 data point (as denoted by the large dot on that line). For any years after 2003, I added the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ Annual Firearms Manufacturers and Export Report numbers. For the years between 2002 and 1997, I successively subtracted the data from the same BATFE report. For the years between 1996 and 1981, I successively subtracted the data from the Shooting Industry Magazine‘s U.S. Firearm Industry Report (Extended)… which apparently does not exist any more. They still have a U.S. Firearms Industry Today article, but those numbers only go back to 1990; I have an email in to the Shooting Industry Magazine to see about making that missing decade of data public again.

If I had used the information from the 1997 study (192 million firearms in 1994), the number of firearms in America would be reduced by approximately 13 million each year. If I had used the upper range of the Small Arms Survey, the number of firearms in America would increase by approximately 38 million each year. I consider my choice to be a gracious compromise. However, the "Number of Firearms" data is only as accurate as its base assumptions, and I have no way of verifying if any of the three numbers available are accurate, or any more accurate than any others – there has been no authoritative, comprehensive inventory of every civilian-owned firearm in America, and there never should be.

The two "Rate" lines were calculated internally to the spreadsheet that generated this graph (however, the "Rate of Firearm Related Deaths per 100,000,000 People" correlates perfectly to a similar statistic generated by WISQARS (once you factor in that their rate is per 100,000 individuals)).

5. Conclusions: Obviously, both the population of America and the number of firearms in America have been increasing over the past 29 years. Additionally, the number of firearms has been slightly increasing faster than the population. Of note, 2009 experienced the single biggest increase in firearm production of all the years on the chart recorded thus far; over 5.5 million firearms were produced in the United States that year.

On the other hand, firearm-related deaths have declined, despite a significant bump in the early 1990s. Those deaths were very slowly increasing again in the past six years, but at a rate roughly commensurate with the population’s, and that increase stopped in 2009, which instead experienced a decrease in deaths.

And on the gripping hand, the rate of firearm deaths in relation to both population and number of firearms has been steadily decreasing (with a few bumps, here and there) over the course of the 29 years graphed.

This post graphically shows that the hypothesis that more firearms result in more firearm-related deaths is historically and demonstrably false. However, showing "more guns = more deaths" to be false does not prove "more guns = fewer deaths" true. In truth, as Yu-Ain Gonnano accurately observed previously, all this chart does is fails to reject the null hypothesis, which means there is more to the story than "gun control" extremists would have you believe with their "more guns = more deaths" oversimplification.

6. Verification: Unlike "gun control" extremists, I have used facts and figures to make my point. Additionally unlike "gun control" extremists, I will make those facts and figures, as well as my methods, publicly available (last year’s spreadsheet is available here). You will note that that particular spreadsheet also contains the data for my "more guns = more ‘gun violence’" Graphics Matter post, which will be updated as soon as the FBI finalizes 2011′s numbers. Feel free to download the spreadsheet (I promise it is clean) and take a look at the numbers for yourselves. If I did something wrong, please correct me. If you can find better counts of the number of firearms in America (or anything else), please provide them. I know that the facts are the only things that matter, again, unlike the "gun control" extremists, and anything that can give us a better look at those facts is something we should pursue.

And unlike those extremists, I certainly do not mind being corrected – the graph you see before you is the product of four years’ worth of feedback from you, the readers, and can always be improved in some fashion I am sure I have not thought of yet.

7. Controlling for variables: In short, I did not. Countless "gun control" extremists have fielded the argument that more guns invariably lead to more firearm-related fatalities. Their argument never progresses past that point, so this post makes no attempt to do either, and instead focuses on the core hypothesis contained within it. Obviously, the firearm-related fatality numbers in America are influenced by far more things than simply the number of firearms present, but I lack the wherewithal and data to adequately address all of those various factors, nor is it really necessary to adequately make my point. It is precisely due to that omission and simplification of the situation that trying to misappropriate this chart to claim that the Brady Bill is responsible for the sharp decline in firearm-related fatalities is a failing argument before it is even expressed; rather than try to convince yourself it works, I would suggest that you might want to check out this set of four posts done by fellow pro-rights weblogger Reputo. He takes a look at all of the significant elements at play that could describe that somewhat precipitous increase, then decrease, in crime in the 80s and 90s, and does so in a significantly more-understandable, less-confusing way.

So how did 2009′s data change things? Due to the increased output of firearm manufacturers in the United States that year, there were some fairly noticeable changes. The American population grew 0.87% (a bit slower than the previous year), firearm-related deaths actually decreased 0.78% (breaking a four-year trend), the number of firearms in common circulation increased by 2.12% (significantly faster than the previous year), firearm-related deaths per 100,000,000 people decreased by 1.63% (a departure from the previous year’s number), firearm-related deaths per 100,000,000 firearms decreased by 2.88% (a significant swing due to the increased production), and the number of firearms owned per 10,000 people grew by 1.27% (ditto).

Basically, 2009 provides us a nice little microcosm to demonstrate the full failure of the "more guns = more deaths" myth. That year’s significantly increased firearm production – spurred, no doubt, by the significantly increased firearm demand preceding and following the 2008 elections – increased the total number of firearms in America by over 2% – the biggest number I have seen thus far in this exercise. On the other hand, firearm-related deaths actually dropped by almost a full percentage point, breaking with a trend that was steadily pointing upwards. Even allowing for the possibility of a "lag" being implied in the "gun control" extremist’s myth, firearm production had been "spooling up" since 2003, and there has never been a single year when firearm production was negligible, which completely destroys any chance of their drawing a causal relationship.

… Which brings us to the second half of these posts. We are all familiar with the phrase, "Correlation does not equate to causation," but a lot of people forget about the rest of it, "… but causation requires correlation." So, given that the hypothesis of "more guns = more deaths" is demonstrably false over the past 29 years here in America, is there any correlation at all between those two events?

Given that the chart of firearm-related deaths is not monotonic, we cannot solve for Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients, so we are stuck with the Pearson correlation coefficient, which allows us to solve for linear correlation between two data sets. As you can see on the spreadsheet, I solved for linear correlation by hand, and then by using Excel’s onboard linear regression tools, with the same results.

Assuming the number of firearms in common circulation describes the X-axis of a graph, and assuming the number of firearm-related fatalities describes the Y-axis of a graph, the equation necessary to describe the closest-fit line is: Y = -0.3929X + 41037. The ‘r’-value for this line is -0.41533, and the R2 value for this line is 0.17250.

What does that mean? ‘r’-values can range from -1 to +1, with +1 meaning that all data points lie perfectly on a line, with Y increasing as X increases, and -1 means the same with Y decreasing and X increasing. 0, logically enough, means no correlation at all. Based on an ‘r’-value of -0.41533, the number of firearms in civilian circulation and the number of firearm-related deaths are correlated, but in a negative fashion – as the number of firearms increases, the number of firearm-related fatalities generally decreases, though not in anything even approximating a "direct" fashion.

Additionally, it is interesting to note that last year’s data yielded an ‘r’-value between firearm numbers and firearm-related fatalities of -0.37031. As the dataset grows, so too does the negative correlation between raw numbers of firearms and raw numbers of firearm-related fatalities; in other words, the truth just keeps helping us and damaging the arguments of those who would deprive us of our rights.

To give you a pretty picture of what we are talking about:

image

As we discussed in a previous year’s post, there are no other equations that match the current distribution with any better degree of fit and do not suffer from some radical departures later on in the graph, so we will just move right along.

Is -0.41533 a significant correlation? Well, it seems to depend on who you ask, and whether or not you are interested in doing some complicated math, but, regardless, it is still a negative correlation. At this point, though, I am willing to say that the negative correlation between raw firearm and firearm-related death numbers is not "weak", for whatever that may be worth. But wait… all of this conveniently overlooks the impact of population growth on all fatality numbers. What happens if we look at rates, rather than raw numbers?

Assuming the number of firearms per 10,000 people in common circulation describes the X-axis of a graph, and assuming the number of firearm-related fatalities per 100,000,000 people describes the Y-axis of a graph (I changed the orders of magnitude on these scales a little from last year to simplify copy-pasting the data from one sheet to the next – this does not really change anything, since we are still looking at the rate of change, not the actual numbers), the equation necessary to describe the closest-fit line is: Y = -2.9145X + 35053. The ‘r’-value for this line is -0.77863, and the R2 value for this line is 0.60627.

image

Well, would you look at that? If you pay attention to rates as opposed to raw numbers, the linear correlation between firearm ownership and firearm-related deaths almost doubles, is still quite negative, and is arguably strongly negative. Interesting, that.

Equally interesting is that the rates experienced the same increase in negative correlation, based on the additional data, as the raw numbers. It would seem as though every time I crunch the numbers, the outlook just gets more and more bleak for the myth that "more guns = more deaths".

*Wipes forehead* Whew. So after all this nonsense, where do we stand?

1. The hypothesis of "more guns = more deaths" is demonstrably false over the past 29 years of documented American history. The number of firearms in civilian circulation have been steadily increasing over that time period, and the number of firearm-related fatalities has not been equivalently or even consistently increasing. However, again, since there seems to be some confusion on the concept, proving "more guns = more deaths" to be false does not prove "more guns = fewer deaths" to be true. Doing so would require accounting for far more variables than I did, and involve far more interesting math than I employed, and require controlling for far more influences than I care to.

2. When comparing raw numbers, there is a negative correlation between the number of firearms in America and the number of firearm-related fatalities, and that correlation seems to become more negative with additional data.

3. When comparing rates, there is a strong, negative correlation between the number of firearms per person in America and the number of firearm-related fatalities per person, and that correlation seems to become more negative with additional data.

Is that not interesting?

As before, all of the above data is freely available on the spreadsheet, and you are more than welcome to check my calculations, perform some figuring of your own, and use the numbers for whatever you see fit. However, if you decide to use the above graphics, please see Disclaimer 1 above.

However, while all of these pretty pictures do a fairly handy job of demolishing a childish argument far too repeatedly parroted by "gun control" extremists, none of it really matters – our rights are not subject to any statistics anyone can dredge or dream up. Or, to put it another way:

Where the hell do you get off thinking you can tell me I can’t own a gun? I don’t care if every other gun owner on the planet went out and murdered somebody last night. I didn’t. So piss off.

So, please, feel free to use these charts and this data to address the specious arguments of "gun control" extremists, but make sure never to buy into the basic premise that if, one day, the statistics were to turn against us, it would be "appropriate" to abridge our rights. It would not be, no matter how much other people might want it to.