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Posted on January 6, by Scott Alexander [Epistemic status: Content warning for discussion of suicide, murder, and race] I. There was a mass shooting — this time, in San Bernardino, California.
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And once again on Sunday, President Barack Obama called for measures that make it harder for would-be shooters to buy deadly firearms. The research on this is overwhelmingly clear.
No matter how you look at the data, more guns mean more gun deaths.
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Vox does the same thing here and here Gun deaths are a combined measure of gun homicides and gun suicides. Here is a graph of guns vs. And here is a graph of guns vs. The relationship between gun ownership and homicide is weak and appears negativethe relationship between gun ownership and suicide is strong and positive.
The entire effect Vox highlights in their graph is due to gun suicides, but they are using it to imply conclusions about gun homicides.
I am not the first person to notice this. And Robert VerBruggen of National Review does the same analysis decomposing gun deaths into suicides and homicides, and like me finds no correlation with homicides.
German Lopez of Vox responds here. This is true, although given that Vox has done this time and time again for months on end and all VerBruggen is doing is correctly pointing out a flaw in their methods, it feels kind of like an isolated demand for rigor.
Lopez suggests the ones at the Harvard Injury Control Research Centerwhich has done several statistical analyses of gun violence. They list two such analyses comparing gun ownership versus homicide rates across US states: This study does indeed conclude that higher gun ownership rates are correlated with higher murder rates after adjusting for confounders.
Furthermore, even after adjusting for confounders it finds in several age categories that higher gun ownership rates are correlated with higher non-gun homicide rates eg the rates at which people are murdered by knives or crowbars or whatever at p less than 0.
This is really suspicious!
Unless guns are exerting some kind of malign pro-murder influence that makes people commit more knife murders, some sort of confounding influence has remained. The study gets its murder rate numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics, which seems like a trustworthy source.
This makes some intuitive sense. Among people who want to commit suicide, suppose a fixed percent prefer to use guns compared to other methods. In that case, the determining factor for whether or not they use a gun will be whether or not they have a gun.
Hospitals diligently record statistics about suicide victims including method of suicide, so if our assumption holds this should be a decent proxy for gun ownership within a state. When I repeat it with the real gun ownership data, all of these positive correlations disappear.
Real gun ownership correlates very modestly — 0.Nov 21, · Get the latest headlines on Wall Street and international economies, money news, personal finance, the stock market indexes including Dow . The green light for EM local markets just got significantly greener Market Commentary.
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