Guns and Crime

by Jason Stotts

800px-Automatic_weapons_at_gun_range,_Las_Vegas

I hate how everything that becomes politicized becomes covered in layers upon layers of lies and deceptions as people try to bend reality to meet their political agendas.  Frankly, I find it disgusting.  Firearms are definitely one of those topics where people let their emotions run roughshod over their reason and attempt to pass feel-good legislation that serves the ends of security theater, but does nothing to help real people stay safer in the real world.

Consider the following two articles:

Gun Crime has Plunged, but Americans Think it’s Up, Says Study (LA Times)

Gun crime has plunged in the United States since its peak in the middle of the 1990s, including gun killings, assaults, robberies and other crimes, two new studies of government data show.

Yet few Americans are aware of the dramatic drop, and more than half believe gun crime has risen, according to a newly released survey by the Pew Research Center.

Media’s Anti-Gun Narrative Destroyed by Justice Dept Report (Breitbart)

Between the years of 1993 and 2011, as the assault weapons ban expired, more Americans purchased guns, the Supreme Court overturned outright gun bans, and individual states not only loosed gun control restrictions but also issued concealed carry permits to private citizens, incidents of gun violence in America collapsed.

Between 1993 and 2011, nonfatal gun crimes plummeted 69%; from 1.5 million to 467,300. Gun-related murders dropped 40%; from 18,253 to 11,101. Gun-related murders for black Americans plummeted by 51%.

The report also shows that the media-created hysteria over school shootings is wildly misleading. Between ’93 and ’11, the murder rate in schools dropped by almost a third; from 29 to 20.

It bothers me that the media’s selective reporting has completely distorted the truth about what’s happening with gun use in the US and whether are kids are safe in school (they’re much safer now than when I was in school in the 90’s).

Guns are not evil. Neither are they good.  They are simply tools that can be used for good or bad ends.  To ban guns in an attempt to reduce crime is just misguided.  People who want to hurt each other will always find new and creative ways to do so: like “glassing” in the UK.

This reminds me of a conversation I had the other day with a friend who was praising the idea of gun buy-back programs where police “buy” guns from citizens in order to “get them off the streets.”  This, at first, sounds like it might be a good idea, except:

– The guns turned in are not going to be the ones used to commit crimes.  Criminals are not going to turn in their guns voluntarily.

– The people who are going to be turning in guns are poor people who need the money.  Yet, the amount of money the programs pay is much less than the market price, thus cheating people of the money they could get elsewhere

– There have been reports that criminals have used the gun buyback programs to get paid to have the police destroy evidence of their crimes.  The programs accept the guns without questions, so this is a perfect solution for the criminals.

Thus, these programs accomplish nothing at all except waste taxpayer dollars on feel good programs.  This kind of thing has got to stop.

We need to look always for the facts and not try to impose our uninformed emotional reactions on others via the law.  Guns might be “scary,” but that’s no reason to try to prevent law-abiding citizens from owning them.

2 Responses to “Guns and Crime”


  1. Daniel Sobral

    The statistics presented look only at the USA, which makes it very poor at finding even correlation. Crime, for instance, has been correlated *world around* to use of leaded gasoline, and crime’s fall in the USA correlates with the passing of regulation prohibiting leaded gasoline.

    Saying weapon access was increased or decreased in the US is not a statistic, it’s an anecdote. To get any meaningful statistic out of it, one needs to consider the introduction of gun legislation (either way) across a much broader sample. And, of course, control for known factors.

    I personally have no clue what the effect on gun legislation on gun crime and crime death ratio are, and I do not support either side of the argument, but you made, above, the same error that you complained the media of.

  2. JasonStotts

    I don’t think I made the same mistake and you certainly can draw significant statistical results from a sample of a larger population. In fact, that’s definitionally how you do statistics; if you knew everything about the total population, you’d simply have causal effects.

    Moreover, to compare guns and violence in one country is much more likely to be statistically significant, because it won’t have to attempt to control for different cultures.

    I could reply further, but I don’t understand why you’re making that claim, so if you care to elaborate, I could better respond.

    ~Jason