Gun Rights: Part 4: Regulations - Will Reasonable Gun Control Save Lives? [206*4]

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IT IS CLEAR FROM AMERICAN HISTORY, AS WELL AS THE CONSTITUTION, that the principal purpose of the 2nd Amendment's guarantee to the right to bear arms was for the "establishment of a well regulated militia"; nothing else is mentioned ... nothing. If fact, it took the activist Roberts' Supreme Court, under the authorship of Justice Scalia, to finally reach back into English history, a century before the founding of America, before they found sufficient legal reference that gave them the rational to allow the application of the "right to bear arms" to the idea of personal self-defense (my source for that statement is reading the Scalia majority opinion, which I site in another hub).

That said, the Supreme Court has ruled 5 - 4 and the right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense of one's person or loved ones is now part of the law of the land, whether you like it or not; personally, I like it. But, what has happened in the decade since that ruling is that gun advocates have tried to use that reasoning to avoid "regulating" the ownership of guns in any fashion, something the Court has permitted for many decades. To listen to the hyperbole surrounding this issue, regulating guns is no different than banning guns; which, to any person without an agenda, is patently not true.

And it is "regulating guns" with which I am concerned because I know, and can prove, that suitable regulation will save more lives than poor or no gun regulation. What I am doing with these hubs is to analyze the various pieces of the puzzle, find out if any are missing, and connect the dots between each piece. The parts we have considered so far are:

  • Rate of Total Deaths per 100,000 population by State (Dependent Variable)
  • % of Gun Ownership by State (both an Independent and Dependent Variable)
  • A State's Population in 100,000s
  • Density of Guns per Square Mile by State (Independent Variable)
  • Rates of Violent Crime, and its constituent parts, by State (Dependent Variable)
  • Density of People per Square Mile by State (Independent Variable)
  • Political Leanings of State Legislatures (Independent Variable)
  • Strength of Gun Regulations by State (Independent Variable)

Each of the independent variables were found to be both necessary and relevant in estimating the dependent variables. What we have found so far is that:

  • There is a strong correlation between the Strength of State Gun Laws, the Political Leanings of the State, and the Density of the State Population help determine the % of Gun Ownership in that State
  • There is a strong correlation between % of Gun Ownership in a State, the States Population, and the Density of Guns in that State with the Rate of Total Deaths by Gun for All Causes in that State,
  • There is a weak correlation, at this point in time, between % Gun Ownership, Density of Guns, Density of People, and Political Leanings in a State with the Rate of Violent Crime, Homicide, and Robbery.
  • There is no apparently link between the above independent variables and Rape or Aggravated Assault.
  • All of the independent variables are positive, meaning the dependent variable increases with an increase in the independent variable except in these important instances, 1) when gun laws are used to predict % gun ownership, the relationship is distinctly negative and 2) when % gun ownership and population density are used, in combination with the other variables, to predict Rates of Violent Crime, Homicide, or Robbery; here, preliminary indications are they are weakly negative as well.

That last bullet is very important to today's debate for it implies there is a possibility that more guns and more tightly packed people may work to slightly reduce certain crimes in some situations. But, does that reduction, if it exists, override the certain increase in total number of deaths, mainly suicides, if guns are more prevalent? That is the question.


Suicides Need to be Part of the Gun Control Conversation

YOU HAVE MANY GUN ADVOCATES, such as @Jack Burton who made several well thought out, logically presented arguments in the comment section of Part 3, who feel suicides, ones by guns, should be taken out of the equation. @Jack argument can be summed up as follows:

  • "There are many studies that show that guns have no effect on the total number of suicides. Japan [and] many other major countries with much more stringent gun laws have many more times the number of suicides than we do."
  • "The fact is that the overall rate of suicide (firearm and non-firearm) among children age 15 and under was virtually unchanged in states that passed and maintained “safe storage” laws for four or more years."

@Mike adds:

"I really don't see suicide as a gun control issue. Even if a few suicides could be prevented by more firearm restriction, which I feel they can't, I don't believe that warrants more firearm restriction."

@Carl follows up with:

  • "Am I the only one that doesn't think suicide should be a factor in the argument of gun control even if firearms could somehow be linked?"
  • "It seems that most of the anti-gun people continually argue about their own safety when discussing all the killing machines in distribution, so the only reason for suicide statistics to be included is to help their numbers."
  • "Even if I wanted to include suicide rates in the gun control argument, which I really don't, how many of them have been committed with so called "assault weapons" and the stuff that scares liberals that they are currently trying to ban?"

There is another aspect the suicide story that must be considered as well, this was brought up in a reference @Jack provided regarding the trade-off between suicide by gun and suicide by all other means. The proposition is that the suicide rate is relatively constant across states and that if suicide by gun goes up or down from one state to another, the "suicide by other means" will move roughly the same amount in the other direction, thereby making the inclusion of suicides in the gun control debate mute.

Obviously, I don't agree with any of these, although the last one had me going for awhile. Just as clearly, it is not enough to disagree, I must prove my point with data and facts; so let's start with the "linkage" between suicides and the prevalence of guns in a state.

ARE THE QUANTITY OF SUICIDES AND SUICIDES BY GUN LINKED TO GUN AVAILABILITY?

YES AND YES, IN THAT ORDER. There very satisfactory statistical links between the availability of guns and the total number of suicides as well as between % Gun Ownership and the number of people, mainly young people, who kill themselves with guns.

I would like to put this debate to bed quickly and turn to something much more interesting an important, the trade-off between "suicide by gun" and "suicide by other means". Consider Graphs 1 and 2 below, the first plots % Gun Ownership vs. Total Suicides and the other plots % Gun Ownership vs. Suicides by Gun.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GUN OWNERSHIP AND SUICIDES

GRAPH 1 - TOTAL SUICIDES (y-axis) vs, % GUN OWNERSHIP (x-axis) -WHILE THE RELATION IS VERY WEAK, OTHER EVIDENCE NEVERTHELESS SHOWS TOTAL SUICIDES WILL GO DOWN WITH BETTER REGULATION
GRAPH 1 - TOTAL SUICIDES (y-axis) vs, % GUN OWNERSHIP (x-axis) -WHILE THE RELATION IS VERY WEAK, OTHER EVIDENCE NEVERTHELESS SHOWS TOTAL SUICIDES WILL GO DOWN WITH BETTER REGULATION | Source
SUICIDES BY GUN (y-axis) vs, % GUN OWNERSHIP (x-axis) - GRAPH 2
SUICIDES BY GUN (y-axis) vs, % GUN OWNERSHIP (x-axis) - GRAPH 2 | Source

IT SHOULD BE CLEAR BY INSPECTION, as well as the R2 result of 72%, the truth to what I claim. In fact, when I pushed on into multiple regression analysis, I found that for Total Suicides, when you add to % Gun Ownership, Gun Density, Mean Annual Temperature, and Median Age of the Population over 95% of the variation between the predicted and actual data points was explained by the final equation which is:

Rate of Total Suicides = .092 * % Gun Ownership +

.008 * Median Age +

.123 * Avg Annual Temp -

5.243 * Log(Gun Density)

ADDENDUM:

Since I last wrote this, I accomplished additional analysis to use in a Twitter comment. I used new techniques that were applied to subsequent Parts, but not this one. Below is an updated version of the equation to predict the Rate of Total Suicides.

In this iteration, the intercept came back in because it was now significant (in the previous model, it wasn't). But, the R-squared dropped to a still respectable 77% with the addition of two more variables and replacing three of the others. Now the equation is:

Rate of Total Suicides = (Mod Rate of Total Suicides)^(1/0.3)

Mod Rate of Total Suicides = 3.519 - .44693 * 1/(% Males^2)^15.5

+ 32632.05 * 1/($ Hispanic/100)^2

+ 0.59067 * $ Ratio ^ 2.2

+ 0.771291 * Rate of Gun Ownership ^ .25

- 0.42577 * % White ^ 2.4

- 20.913 * 1/(Median Age)^0.7

Likewise, with Suicides by Gun, if I add other factors, Age and Population Density to % Gun Ownership, I gain an additional 22% of variation explanation, bringing it to 94%. The resulting equation of the multiple regression is:

Rate of Suicides by Gun = .111 * % Gun Ownership + .

4.553 * Log(Median Age) -

2.027 * Log(Pop Density)

Below is an updated version of the equation to predict the Rate of Suicides By Gun. I still kept the intercept function forced through the 0,0 point because it makes no sense to have an intercept greater then zero if the rate of legal gun ownership is zero; by definition, the prediction must be zero. Further, I gained two more percentages in my adjusted R-Squared function, to 96% which means the equation doesn't explain on 4% of the variation in the data set. Now that is wonderful .... until you consider the large number of significant explanatory variables there now are.

- Median Age: This is the point where half population is younger and half is older. What the relationship says is that as the population ages, more people kill themselves; it seems reasonable. If fact, a better formulation would be one which increases as the median age gets younger flattens out, then increases as the population ages; the data seems to support this.

- Average Annual Temperature: Temperature seems to be important, given its coefficient of .123. With an average US Temperature of around 52, it contributes around 6.4 suicides per 100,000 to the final rate. It would seem that as the climate warms up, the number of suicides increase as well. I leave it to sociologists to explain what heat vs. cold as to do with the human psyche and our tendency to end our lives, but apparently there is a difference.

- Population and Gun Density: Both are surrogates for how tightly people are packed together. I am still as surprised as I was in the other Parts by the negative coefficient. The negative sign suggests that the closer people live to one another, the less likely they are to commit suicide. It could be there is less opportunity or that loneliness is dangerous.

TRADE SPACE: GUNS vs OTHER METHODS

AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, http://www.keepandbeararms.com/information/XcIBVie suggests that even if suicides are significant, they still don't count because the less suicides by guns there are, people make up for it by finding otherer ways to kill themselves and keep the total suicide rate at about the level. I don't agree with the article's conclusions, of course, and think his use of statistics are misguided, but it is a very good read and very poignant nevertheless. It certainly did give me pause, out two or three days, trying to think the issue through and determine and approach to testing his hypothesis.

During this process, I came across several instances of sets of states where this "trade" phenomenon appeared to be occurring. But, when taking all of the data together, this trade-off between suicides by gun and by other means didn't occur on a consistent basis.

I had built a series of charts and a long explanation of them to show you when a much simpler method occurred to me; this is what I am presenting in Table 1 below:

To explain the charts I will show in a moment, consider the near perfect case where this trade occurs.

    • Assume that for state X the Suicides by Gun rate is 5 deaths per 100,000. Assume further that for the same state, the Total Suicide rate is 11 deaths per 100,000. That mean, of course, the Suicides by Other Means must be 6.
    • Next, assume the state next door which has exactly the same demographics, except their gun laws are stronger, has a Suicide by Gun rate of 4 deaths. Since all of the demographics are the same, then, it the "Trade-off Theory" is correct the Total Suicides should still be 12 because 1 person per 100,000 found another way to kill themselves

If this perfect case

GROUP
#
AVG % GUN OWNERSHIP
AVG TOTAL SUICIDE RATE
AVG SUICIDE BY GUN RATE
AVG SUICIDE BY OTHER MEANS RATE
STATES WITH LITTLE OR COUNTERPRODUCTIVE GUN LAWS
37
42.6%
14.1 per 100k
8.6 per 100k
5.5 per 100k
STATES WITH STRONG OR VERY STRONG GUN LAWS
13
23.7%
10.2 per 100k
4.2 per 100k
6.0 per 100k
 
 
 
 
 
 
TABLE 1

TO SAY THAT 1) GUN LAWS AND 2) SUICIDES DON'T MAKE A DIFFERENCE is to be blind to the facts. Table 1 is extremely simple, but it says volumes. All I did was divide the states between those who have sensible laws regulating guns, 13 of them, and those who didn't, the remaining 37 states. Then I compared the four factors you see across the columns.

The first two things that should pop out at you are the significant drops in both % of Gun Ownership and the Total Suicide Rate when you compare states without reasonably strong gun laws to those states with good laws. The next thing is the last column, Suicide by Guns, that follows the same pattern. Notice, however, what didn't drop, in fact, it stayed almost constant, and that is Suicide by Other Means!

(I didn't compute the statistical test to show whether the means of the two groups are significantly different from each other because I felt it unnecessary. However, if anybody wants me to, just leave a comment to that effect.)

That result would be impossible if the "Trade-off" theory is correct. For that theory to survive scrutiny, exactly the opposite results would be expected. Specifically, Total Suicides must be more or less constant and Suicides by Other Means must be significantly different between the two groups in order to compensate for the change in Suicide by Gun rates. Clearly, the actual data doesn't support this hypothesis, but instead verifies the opposite theory that the prevalence of guns has a lot to do with both Total Suicides AND Suicides by Gun.

USING THE INFORMATION LEARNED SO FAR

THIS IS JUST A DIFFERENT WAY TO SUMMARIZE WHAT HAS BEEN PRESENTED to date, and hopefully in a more interesting and meaningful way, even if you don't agree with the conclusions.. Enough material has been presented in Parts 1 - 4 to allow some insight into how it could be put to practical use, IF the equations offered were more rigorously developed with better scrubbed data and further in-depth analysis. This is a hub, however, and I don't have a large gov't, Brady, or NRA grant to go out to hire researchers and do the proper job needed such that you can take the results to the bank with some degree of confidence that you are right. What I DO have a high degree of confidence in with respect to the work presented in these and future hubs is the direction of my conclusions and the ballpark my answers fall in, Specific policy decisions would not be derived from my work, but certainly the effort is good enough to know the kinds of policy decisions which need to be made.

To see how such a policy might be produced, suppose a question policy-makers asked themselves at the national level is the following:

"What policy or set of policies should be put in place that have a reasonably good chance of reducing the number of total deaths by gun nationwide while not violating the Second Amendment and the recent Supreme Court decision to expand its scope?"

We have the tools now to make an estimate of how many lives, if any, could be saved given changes in policy that effect the ownership and responsibility that comes from ownership of weapons designed for the sole purpose of killing other human beings. Stating it this way, I believe I eliminate any discussion about pellet guns, BB guns, bows-and-arrows, virtually all knives, etc.

What policy-makers do is write regulations, in this case regulations that affect the ownership of weapons in some fashion. There are 51 example sets of regulations in existence now, one for each State and one for the Federal government. We have seen in this and the previous Parts that gun control regulations vary considerably from state to state, as does the scope of gun ownership and the number of deaths as a result of gunshot. From this data, we developed (painfully) various relationships between independent variables that influence gun ownership as well as death by gun. What follows then is using these equations to estimate the change in the number of lives lost, at the national level, based on changes in state regulations.

Previously we saw that, according to one study, there are a set of states whose regulations detract from the federal gun control legislation; these are the states with negative scores. So, let's ask this question: "What is the impact of passing federal laws requiring all states to at least meet federal laws and guidelines?"; meaning those states with negative regulation scores change their laws such that they would score zero on the study. In a very simplified example here is how such a process might work:

  1. Estimate the change in average "Gun Regulation" score when those states with negative scores are now scored at zero. For the purpose of this example, I did a very rough estimation of what this change might be by simply comparing the "average" score before and after the change. The score before was 9.22 and after making the adjustments, it had increased to 11.02.
  2. The Gun Regulation score, along with Population Density, is key to estimating the state, and therefore the national % Gun Ownership rate. The coefficient associated with Gun Regulation is ".497". You would think this has the wrong sign because positive implies the more regulation, the more gun ownership. For statistical reasons, however, I did what is called a "transformation" on the Gun Regulation variable which basically did two things, 1) made all of the scores zero or positive and 2) reversing the sequence by subtracting the score from 100; this last transformation is why the coefficient is positive.
  3. Now, I only have to worry about the change in Gun Regulation because Population Density is constant so I just need to focus on the Gun Regulation coefficient. I will present the math if somebody wants to see it, but when you apply the change in Gun Regulation to the Gun Ownership equation, you find that the % Gun Ownership drops by 0.895 percentage points.
  4. The next to last step is to take this change in the Rate of Gun Ownership and insert it into the equation which relates gun ownership to Total Death by Gun rate, which is: Y = .661*X, where Y is the Log of Total Deaths and X is the Log of % Gun Ownership. Doing the math with 0.895 we estimate that Total Deaths by Gun would decrease by 3.9 deaths per 100,000 population.
  5. Finally, to convert that into Total Deaths, we note the current population of the United States is 314 million. Therefore, the estimated decrease in Total Death by Gun would by 805 people which equates to a 2.7% drop from the approximately 30,000 killings each year.

This is the kind of analysis that can be done to help determine if changing regulations might be effective and, potentially, which regulations may have the most affect. This example was to simply bring the laws of 20 states up to the standards set by such states as Utah and Nevada. How many of you think Utah and Nevada's gun laws are onerous and are well on the way to making the 2nd Amendment mute? I wonder what might happen if all the states who scored worse, brought their regulations on par with such a liberal bastion as South Carolina, who rates a 17 on the Gun Regulation scorecard.

For comparison:

-- South Carolina ranks:

  • 11th in tough gun laws,
  • 33rd highest in gun ownership, and
  • 16th lowest in total death rate.

-- Wyoming, on the other hand, ranks:

  • 38th in tough gun laws
  • 1st (highest) in gun ownership rate, and
  • 46th in lowest total death rate,

Question: Why is it South Carolina, who arguably feels just as strongly about the 2nd Amendment as Wyoming, has such a better track record when it comes per capita total death rate? Could it be how they regulate their guns? Doesn't this result agree with the analysis above?

A QUICK LOOK AT SUICIDES

WE CAN APPLY THE SAME METHODOLOGY to the total number of suicides as well as the number of suicides by gun.

From the discussion regarding Graph 2 above, we saw that the coefficient that went along with % Gun Ownership is 0.092 for Total Suicides, and from 3) above the change in % Gun Ownership associated with our example is 0.895. Multiplying those two together gives you 0.08 deaths per 100,000 population. Still assuming a total population of 314 million, we would predict that improving the regulations governing guns could potentially reduce total suicides by 251 people!

If we consider the 0.111 coefficient associated with gun ownership in the formula governing suicide by gun, we get a result of 0.099 or 311 people. Note that this result when compared to the one above implies 60 people found other ways to kill themselves rather than by gun.

THE SUBTOTAL

DO STATE REGULATIONS REGARDING THE OWNERSHIP OF GUNS bear on the degree guns are owned in that state, you should have no problem being able to answer that in the affirmative. We saw a strong and direct correlation between stronger regulations reducing the prevalence of ownership.

Likewise, we see significant correlation between the degree of ownership of guns and the total number of 1) people killed by guns, 2) total number of suicides, and 3) number of suicides by gun. In all three cases, more guns per capita = more dead people per capita. But the title of these hubs look specifically at violent crimes and homicides and asks the question, "Does more guns = more deaths from violent crime and homicides?"

The answer is, "apparently not!", at least not right now and based on additional analysis while preparing for this hub, it doesn't look like it is going to. On the other hand, the opposite relationship doesn't appear to exist either, meaning "more guns doesn't = less deaths from violent crime and homicide". I have one more idea in mind to try to find a relationship and that is considering the number of major metropolitan areas in a state.

Another Way to Look At Regulation vs Gun Suicides

THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, IN 2008, released the results of a survey looking into the relationship between 1) Strength of state firearm regulations, 2) rate of firearm ownership, and 3) the rate of suicide by firearms; they are presented in the table below. A quick peek should tell you immediately that these three factors are closely linked.

I have not looked behind the survey, but in this case I don't think it is necessary. Here is why. Normally I would want to know how many states were in each group and their demographic make-up to ensure the statistics derived were not biased. But, within the data presented is enough information to make feel comfortable that the results tell a true story. Let me walk you through it.

  1. While the number of states in each "High" and "Low" group is unknown, I know from these hubs that each group contains several, of all sizes and shapes. So given each group have about the same average population, results should not be biased one way or the other. This is very important since the suicides are given in actual numbers, rather than rates.
  2. The next row tells you the average rate of gun ownership. It should be no surprises that states with little regulation have a higher rate of gun ownership than those with strong regulations. But the degree of difference is very surprising.
  3. The third row gives you the total suicides over a five-year period. Often these types of data don't mean much by themselves because it is very hard to compare them except in very special circumstances. In this case, however, two other pieces of information; 1) populations of the same size and 2) near identical non-gun suicide results.
  4. The last row contains non-gun suicides in each group. This is what cements everything together, what tells me there is no bias in the data of any significance. The reason for this is that the number of non-suicides and the populations they came from are essentially the same.
  5. Consequently, the variables which would total gun-suicides meanless have been normalized; meaning taken out of the equation leaving only the gun-based suicides.

Having established the gun-based suicides for each group can be compared, isn't it interesting that states where access to guns is high have 4 times as many suicides as those where less guns are available. Now THAT is a significant difference. What's more it also supports my findings that gun regulations DO have a material impact on how many households have firearms.

ACCESS TO GUNS RAISES RISK OF SUICIDE

VARIABLE (2001 - 2005)
STATES W/HIGH OWNERSHIP
STATES W/LOW OWNERSHIP
AVG POPULATION
49 Million
50 Million
% OF HOUSEHOLD W/GUNS
47%
15%
TOTAL GUN SUICIDES
16,577
4,257
TOTAL NON-GUN SUICIDES
9,172
9,259
TABLE 2

SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK NOW?

Are you now convinced reasonably increasing state and federal regulations will save lives in the long run?

See results without voting

Do you think suicides should be part of the gun regulation conversation?

See results without voting

© 2013 My Esoteric

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Comments 16 comments

Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 3 years ago from The Midwest

Es can toss numbers around, bogus or not, but he just can't explain why the weakest, the least apt, the troubled-in-the-mind among us get a say in how much freedom all American citizens have.

That's like giving the general prison population the deciding vote on how many cops any one city is allowed to put on the streets. Or the type of lock you can put on your front door.

I can conclusively prove, beyond a doubt, that those who go into a hospital for at least two days have a far greater statistical chance of dying within a year than those who don't go into a hospital.

If anyone wants to derive a conclusion from that that is is far better for your well-being to never go into a hospital when you need treatment then you are welcome to do so.


Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 3 years ago from The Midwest

es sez: To listen to the hyperbole surrounding this issue, regulating guns is no different than banning guns; which, to any person without an agenda, is patently not true.

Jack replies: Here is how it works, es,

There is simply no trusting those who say they only want to "regulate" guns. No reason whatsoever to trust you.

I can give links to many politicians, media people and others in power who DO say they want to "ban guns." I 'll do so if you ask for them. Because you are either unwilling to acknowledge that or ignorant of it it weakens all your following statements.

Why should we trust those who want to demonize the gun owners, the NRA and those who disagree with them. We've been accused for years now of being no better than those who actually shoot and harm people. After the recent vote in the Senate where the gun control lost there were dozens of politicians rushing to the airwaves to say the "next shooting was on our head and the blood on our hands." And we should trust these people?

In a bizarre op-ed in The Charleston Gazette last week, journalism professor Christopher Swindell argued that the National Rifle Association “advocates armed rebellion against the duly elected government of the United States of America.”

Stirring words, to be sure, but Swindell was hardly done — not even close. He also said that the NRA is guilty of “treason” “worthy of the firing squad.”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/03/meet-the-journal...

And this is the person you want us to "trust" about gun control?

Are you going to absolutely, positively agree that if your "regulation" gets approved and doesn't work, which it won't, that you and everyone else won't come and say, "we need more"? Because we know that is exactly what is going to happen. You are going to want more, more, and more because each effort is going to fail to accomplish anything of value.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Of course, Jack, you can point to many people, millions probably, regular people and politicians, who would like to see guns banned. But, there is this thing called the 2nd Amendment, I am sure you are well versed in it, lol. That amendment has and will always trump those who would like to reverse it. However, if, given this is America, you had such overwhelming support to repeal the 2nd Amendment, an extremely difficult process which has only happened once in our history, and that took 20 - 30 years, then the people will have spoken, isn't that what America is about?

Barring that near impossible occurrence, gun ownership is and will always remain a national pastime. The question then boils down to how to regulate that ownership to minimize unintended death. Do we want the US to have less than zero regulations, such as Wyoming, with its highest gun ownership rate in the nation coupled with the 4th highest per capita death rate. Or, do you go with a much more regulated state like South Carolina whose ownership rate is much lower as is its death rate, but a stronger set of gun regulations.

Do you honestly believe, Jack, that South Carolina, or Utah, or Nevada, are on the verge of banning gun ownership?

Please take my work to a real statistician you may know and have him point out the logic flaws so you can illuminate us on my errors.

Also, the way you state your hospital problem is true on the face of it since in the population of all of those who didn't go to the hospital are those are tons of people who were not sick to start with while those who spent two days in a hospital were already sick.

A more fair comparison is a population of sick people who did not go to the hospital, or did go and spent only one day, with those who stayed two days; that is a meaningful comparison. Do you have data for that?


Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 3 years ago from The Midwest

So it is not the "gun ownership" that necessarily causes what you claim is a high death rate but it could be the same cause that creates the high gun ownership is also causing the high death rate. Just the same as the hospital example.

And if I can point to millions of people, including politicians, who want to see guns banned then why did you so cavalierly dismiss the concerns of gun owners over the issue? Guns can be and are regulated to the point where there is a de facto "ban" even though the word is not used.

There are very, very few "unintended" deaths with guns.

Direct from the Childern's Hospital of Philidelphia...

"The number of unintentional deaths from firearms DECLINED 80 percent from 1997 to 2002. In 2005, 75 children ages 14 and under died from unintentional firearm-related injuries; more than half of those children were between the ages of 10 and 14."

http://www.chop.edu/healthinfo/firearms-injury-sta...

I"d say those "regulations" are working very well considering those 75 deaths are set against 300,000,000 guns. Why don't you break out your calculator and tell everyone just what those odds are.

And why don't we discuss the probability that someone who leaves a gun hanging around a home for a negligent discharge to happen is going to pay the least amount of attention to any "regulation" that you want to come up with.

I remember well the case in Detroit when Clinton was president that everyone made such a big fuss over. The six year old girl took a handgun to school and was caught with it. Of course the Dems and gun bigots were demanding new laws on "safe storage."

But, funny that, it never quite made the news that the momma was a crack whore and the man whose gun it was a crack dealer. Just the kind of law abiding family that would certainly jump to obey any "regulation" you come up with.

And again, if you want to measure the freedom of people by the actions of those who seek to do harm to others that is your prerogative. Just be honest about it. It should be easy for you to simply state, "Because bad guys do bad things we are going to curtail the freedom of good guys."


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Because it is a non-issue, I can also find millions of people, including some politicians, who believe aliens (the ones from outer space, not Mexico) are among us. I personally believe sport hunting (hunting for the thrill of killing an animal, especially those broadcast on TV) ought to be illegal, and there are millions, including some politicians, who agree with me on that. Do I ever expect anything to occur regarding that? Not in my lifetime, or the next, because I understand killing animals for the fun of it is ingrained in male human nature.

Just because millions of people. so long as they aren't the vast majority which encompasses 3/4 of the State legislatures, believe guns ought to be banned, then they are not going to be in this country.

Name me a state where your de facto gun ban exists. I CA and NY, where the most stringent laws exist, around 20% of household have one or more guns in it. Of course, that is below the national average of 31% yet they also, not surprisingly, can claim some of the lowest death by gun rates in the nation.

You and I do agree that unintentional death by gun is very low, but then that is only a minuscule part of what I am talking about, my primary concern is intentional death and the facts clearly support my conclusions, if you regulate guns in states which have little or no regulation to the same degree they are regulated in Nevada and Utah, you WILL save lives.

Are you saying the regulations in those two states is too much regulation?

As to the decline you mention, death by gun from all causes has declined significantly since the two federal gun laws were passed in 1994.


Ben Freedom profile image

Ben Freedom 3 years ago from USA

All new regulations are asking for is a background check for all gun sales, closing the gun show loophole in order to make it more harder for criminals to get guns. What is so difficult to stomach about doing that? It is just a money game controlled by gun makers and paranoid gun owners. Its pretty disgusting when you consider what it is they are protecting--violent crime. I really wish we could get this common sense legislation in place and move on to the other issues that are making our society sick and obsessed with violence. We are stalled on this one issue and it is pretty silly. Even the second amendment calls for regulation.


Carl 3 years ago

I find it interesting that you used South Carolina as a model state. South Carolina is one of the most conservative states in the country. There are no restrictive guns laws or registration. South Carolinians wouldn't tolerate it. I grew up there and I'm happy to see they are the 16th lowest in "total death rate," but I think you could learn a lot from taking a more detailed look at that statistic.

North Charleston, a separate city from Charleston, was the 7th most dangerous city in the country in 2006. They were able to move to 22 in 2009 and were 122 in 2012. Charleston, again a separate city bordering North Charleston, was rated at 220 in 2012. Charleston would have done much better if they didn't share a border with North Charleston. The most dangerous areas of Charleston are on that border.

Myrtle Beach, SC on the other hand managed to win the spot of the 7th most dangerous state in 2012. I do not believe these hot-spots of criminal activity in South Carolina are due to population density. Myrtle Beach only has a population of around 27,000 people.

The sad truth that is that in North Charleston the vast amount of violence and murders are committed by black people on black people. Much of the violent crime in North Charleston is also drug related and committed by previous offenders. This isn't meant to be racist. It's just fact.

The problem with all of your analysis is that you are looking at the laws and gun ownership levels and not focusing on the people actually committing the crime. You are again looking at the tool rather than the person using it.


Carl 3 years ago

@Ben

I'm tired of hearing about the evil "gun show loophole." Do you really think all the criminals are purchasing their firearms at gun shows? Do you honestly think that making sure absolutely everyone, most already do, receive a background check is going to stop gun violence? Anti-gun folks latch on to this crap and just repeat it over and over again.

I'm not going to waste my time arguing with your assertion that the Second Amendment "calls for regulation." I'm guessing you troll around spewing that crap and there have already been enough people trying to set you straight with no success.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago

I really hated my statistics classes in college, so I salute you for your patience in constructing these charts and graphs. Your statistics on suicides and your question as to whether gun regulation would bring down the number of suicides is a good rhetorical question. Let me bring in the human side. I can't answer it from statistics, but I know that some common sense in my family could have prevented a suicide. My 30-year-old sister killed herself with a gun. Her suicide could have been prevented with proper medical treatment, but the “brilliant” doctors kept missing her Hashimoto’s disease, although a layman like me could see the obvious symptoms. Instead they treated her symptom of depression and ignored the rest, a fruitless effort without treating the cause, and in a two-year-period, she made at least one attempt per month to die by overdosing on the pills they were supplying her. Her fiancée was instructed to remove the guns from their house. He removed all the revolvers, but left his rifle. When her pain became unbearable, she shot herself through the heart. Even the detectives wanted to investigate her death as a homicide, but we assured them she was an excellent rifleman and quite capable of shooting herself in the chest with a rifle. Her fiancé “never dreamed” she could manage to kill herself with the rifle. Kind of stupid when he knew that our whole family had been trained on guns.

If the thoughtless person had not made the gun available to her, maybe she would have lived until the doctors finally found her true illness and treated her back to health. Likewise, how many other gun suicides could have been prevented. But I don't think stricter gun laws could prevent most of this type of suicide. Only prevention of ownership, which I am NOT for.

I am not for gun ownership prevention because I have used a gun two times in my life to protect myself from a prowler at night trying to break into my own home.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

@Ben, thanks for the comment. You hit the nail on the head by saying ALL gun sales. Just limiting it to gun shows won't do much good. While focusing on just the criminal side of things, which these hubs do not do, criminals get very few of their guns from shows. They do get more than 50% from family and friends, so requiring all gun sales to have a background check would do some serious damage to their normal source of supply. But that is just the criminals. Now broaden it a bit to those with discoverable mental illnesses. How many gun sales are there from family and friends to mentally ill people could be stopped if background checks were made for all gun sales.

BTW, I think your 2nd Amendment reference that Carl to umbrage to, is the part about a "well regulated militia"; it doesn't really say anything about regulating personal ownership, although subsequent Supreme Court decisions allow for it.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

@Carl, sorry to disappoint but I chose SC for two reasons, one it is, as you say, a very conservative state and two, based on the study I referred to in the hub; based on a set of 30 or 31 objective criteria each state was measured against regarding their regulation of firearms, SC scored 17. For comparison, Maine scored the lowest with -10 points, Nevada scored 0, Rhode Island scored 18, and Massachusetts scored the highest with 76 points.

As to my analysis, my focus isn't on the smaller picture of crime, in fact I am having a hard time establishing a clear relationship with crime at all; I just started a new tact with Part 5. Gun ownership is only 37% about crime, it is mostly, over 50%, about suicide, so instead, my focus is on the much larger picture of "how many total lives can be saved" by regulating guns better. That regulating guns can save lives was establish in this hub. Whether regulating guns will have a positive or negative impact on crime one way or another, that is still out for analysis.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thank you for your story, MizBejjabers. Even though it is a very sad one, it nevertheless highlights why I am trying to move the conversation away from just one on crime, but turn it instead to the arena where even more harm is done, suicide and accidental homicides.


Carl 3 years ago

"Gun ownership is only 37% about crime, it is mostly, over 50%, about suicide, so instead, my focus is on the much larger picture of "how many total lives can be saved" by regulating guns better."

Well, we're back to my initial disagreement about using suicide in the statistics. I simply do not believe that suicide rates are a valid reason to place more restrictions on firearms. You also have not addressed the extremely high suicide rate in Japan which has almost no firearms among the civilian population.

"They do get more than 50% from family and friends, so requiring all gun sales to have a background check would do some serious damage to their normal source of supply."

I'm assuming you are including criminal transactions as acquiring from friends.

You also failed to explain the disproportionate amount of violence in areas of your model state of South Carolina. Why is it that North Charleston has less population density than Charleston, but more crime? Why is that you are not looking at the same people that are committing the vast majority of crimes over and over again?


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

You can choose to believe or not believe, @Carl, whether reducing suicide deaths is worth the better regulation of guns. You may hold not regulating guns to have more value than saving lives, but that is your choice. It doesn't alter the fact that better regulations do save lives.

I am talking about gun ownership and the deaths as a result of that ownership in American, not Japan nor Switzerland. It is America and its policies for which I am concerned and there are way too many other variables that are in play in other countries that aren't reflected in America for them to have any importance to this study. If I wanted to include them, then I would be looking at the world, not just America.

No, criminal acquisition of firearms is a separate and small category. The chart is in Part 3, I think. The fact is legal acquisition, of which only a very small part requires background checks, is how most criminals (according to surveys of criminals) obtain their weapons.

Finally, this hub isn't about explaining specific anecdotal situations, I am looking at the aggregate and considering policies that would impact the nation as a whole, not subdivision by subdivision. But, nevertheless, I am trying to account, on a nationwide scale, what you are suggesting; I just started that work for Part 5. Unfortunately, I am having little luck so far in establishing relationships with large, medium, and small statistical metropolitan areas as being a significant contributing factor to the occurrence of death, violent crime, murder and rape (that is as far as I have gotten at the moment).

I am not saying there isn't any, for like you, I think their ought to be, but I haven't found a good way of presenting those statistics in a regression analysis that returns them as being significant.

To your last paragraph also, guess which state has the highest per capita death rate from guns of all states? You got it, Alaska! In fact, as a rule, less populated states have a higher per capita death rate from guns than more populated states. I am certain that goes against your stereotype ... I know it did mine. This study has changed several of my preconceived notions.


wilderness profile image

wilderness 12 months ago from Boise, Idaho

It seems that your entire premise is based on preventing suicides and, perhaps, to a lesser degree accidents. I'm not convinced that the required erosion of rights and freedoms of a massive number of people is reasonable, given that it is solely to save people from themselves.

While we, through government, have a moral imperative to help such people, that help is not in the same category as saving lives from other people. Because of that major difference I'm just not comfortable with the price (either monetary or other) in doing what would be necessary.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 12 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

OK, we just established one thing that frames your perspective, you have no or little regard for human life by so casually throwing aside sick people who end up killing themselves because they are sick. Is this correct?

A few thousand lives don't matter to you?

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