US and State Gun Deaths and Polls

US and State Gun Deaths and Polls

Vox.com has a collection of graphs showing essential facts of US and State gun ownership risks, and polls on how to solve them.

The US owns 42% of the world’s civilian guns, or 270 million out of 644 million guns.

The US death rate from guns is 30 per million, compared to Canada at 5.1 and Germany at 1.9. We are far greater than other advanced countries.

Mother Jones had a 2013 article “10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down“.  In a graph containing all states of gun deaths versus gun ownership as a percent of adults, there is a rough linear relationship, that gun deaths increase linearly with gun ownership. California is near the least-mean-square fit line, with 7.4 gun deaths per 100,000, at 20% percent of adults owning guns. The highest gun owning state is Alaska at 62%, with 20 gun deaths per 100,000. Texas, the second largest state after California, has 35% gun ownership, and 10.6 gun deaths per 100,000. Florida has 32% gun ownership, and 11.5 gun deaths per 100,000. One problem with this fit, is that the intercept of the curve at zero gun ownership, is at about 5 gun deaths per 100,000, an impossibility. The least dangerous states with rates below 7.5 per 100,000 are Hawaii (2.6), Rhode Island (2.9) Massachusetts (3.2), New York (4.2), Connecticut (4.9), New Jersey (5.3), Minnesota (6.6), Iowa (7.4), and California (7.4). These include the magnificent seven states which have banned assault type weapons, along with Rhode Island and Minnesota, but not including Maryland at 9.0.  The firearm death rate data cited here is from the CDC for 2014.

Unfortunately, these rates have to be applied to the population of the state, and are led by California at 2935 deaths, Texas at 2823, and Florida at 2408.  The next highest state total is 1389, over a thousand lower.

A similar linear curve can be fit between countries, but the US has by far the highest rate of gun ownership at 90% (even though only 33% own guns), and with 9 deaths per 100,000. The lowest death rates are in Chile, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Singapore, Poland, Netherlands, and Spain.

Among 15 industrialized countries, the US violent crime rate has 5.5% of people as victims at least once a year, and the average of the 15 countries is 6.3% of people. The total crime rate of nonviolent and violent in the US is 21% a year.

While US homicides by firearms have averaged around 12,000 a year, the scary thing is that suicides by firearms have been steadily rising to 22,000 a year by 2016. This is the most important reason for removing guns from people who are depressed or mentally ill, and preventing them from purchasing them.

Of these suicides, 16,500 are from states with the highest rates of gun ownership, and 4,000 from states with the lowest ownership rates. Non-firearm suicides are the same in both groups of states, at 9,000 per year for a total of 18,000. That is probably how the two groups are formed.

Australia cut its firearm suicide rate down to about a fifth after instituting a gun buyback program.

In comparing Republican and Democratic views on proposed gun policies, a remarkable 89% of both agreed to prevent the mentally ill from purchasing guns. One cannot fail to mention here that one of Trump’s first acts was to cancel this ruling by Obama for people who were deemed to mentally ill to do their taxes. Other policies agreed on by most were to ban gun sales to those on no-fly or watch lists. Oddly, the NRA opposed losing this valuable buying cohort. Also, both highly favored background checks for private sales and gun shows.

Policies favored by Republicans but strongly opposed by Democrats were allowing concealed carry in more places, and arming teachers and officials in K-12 schools. Neither was much in favor of allowing concealed carry without a permit. Once you put guns in schools, they become targets for theft by students, and may even lead to mayhem. They also make students feel that they are in a prison, a style that schools were trying to get rid of a number of years ago.

80% of Democrats wanted to ban assault type weapons, but only 54% of Republicans did. That is much higher than other polls that I had cited in earlier articles.

77% felt that Congress was not doing enough to stop mass shootings, and 62% thought that President Trump was not doing enough. They forgot to ask if both were making such acts more likely with their actions.

All in all, the polls and data showed definite paths to take for progress in reducing gun deaths.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
This entry was posted in American Carnage, Assault Weapons, Children, Congress, Education, Governors and State Legislatures, Gun Control, Guns, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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