I’ve been taking another look at FBI crime stats. I’m interested in how they correlate with the kind of gun-laws that the “Demand a Plan” people have been advocating for the United States. Last time I looked at this I found that, in all areas rural and urban, the middle-of-the-road mediocre gun-laws were best, but overall there was really no strong correlation. Oh and to be clear I was looking at overall violent crime, not limited to just murders or just gun-crime. My focus is on what is safest, and for once I’m allowing myself to look through an unpricipaled strictly consequentialist lens.
Removing rural areas (and Minnesota, due to missing data) from the picture hasn’t improved matters at all, take a look.
The two states with D- laws (Florida and South Carolina) I’ll put aside, but looking at the 8 states with D grade laws, it’s clear that they usually have less violence than states with “better” gun laws. In fact 11 of very-top 14 states with “best” gun-laws fail to beat grade the average grade D jurisdiction, and overall it’s 11 states to 3. Those top states, by the way, include Massachusetts where a new gun law seems to have made matters worse. This is interesting because I think urban violence is something people care a lot about; and is more significant than the narrower measure of gun-homicides. Non-gun violence affects more people, though perhaps less seriously, and it is illogical to disregard the suffering of those victims if you are taking a statistical approach. It does seem that preventing access to firearms for self-defense can make violent crime worse.
Here is the league-table of jurisdiction-groupings, sorted by the strictness of gun-law:
Another interesting factoid here is that taking the “worst” 23 states – those with the least gun control – on average they have less violence than many of states with “better” gun-control laws. Gun-control does not always lead to safer or nicer places, far from it.
I don’t have much time to dedicate to this issue, I only did so tonight because the BBC had a very biased Panorama episode on it. I would like to look at this more, but it seems to me that naively making gun-laws stricter is not going to give people the safe environment they really want. It’s pretty clear that safety isn’t about taking guns away and imposing more laws. I think that to solve their gun crime problem the US has to look harder at itself.