Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston
Monday, December 17, 2012
Some facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States
15 OF THE 25 WORST MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE PAST 50 YEARS TOOK PLACE IN THE UNITED STATES.
More information from the Washington Post to help us understand America's gun culture and its deadly influence:
Shooting sprees are not rare in the United States.
Mother Jones has tracked and mapped every shooting spree in the last three decades. “Since 1982, there have been at least 61 mass murders carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii,” they found. And in most cases, the killers had obtained their weapons legally. 2. 15 of the 25 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the United States. Time has the full list here. In second place is Finland, with two entries.
As David Lamp writes at Cato, “In Israel and Switzerland, for example, a license to possess guns is available on demand to every law-abiding adult, and guns are easily obtainable in both nations. Both countries also allow widespread carrying of concealed firearms, and yet, admits Dr. Arthur Kellerman, one of the foremost medical advocates of gun control, Switzerland and Israel ‘have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States.’”
*Correction: The info is out-of-date, if not completely wrong. Israel and Switzerland have tightened their gun laws substantially, and now pursue an entirely different approach than the United States. More details here.
Of the 11 deadliest shootings in the US, five have happened from 2007 onward.
That doesn’t include Friday’s shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The AP put the early reported death toll at 27, which would make it the second-deadliest mass shooting in US history.
America is an unusually violent country.
But we’re not as violent as we used to be. Kieran Healy, a sociologist at Duke University, made this graph of “deaths due to assault” in the United States and other developed countries. We are a clear outlier.
As Healy writes, “The most striking features of the data are (1) how much more violent the U.S. is than other OECD countries (except possibly Estonia and Mexico, not shown here), and (2) the degree of change—and recently, decline—there has been in the U.S. time series considered by itself.”
The South is the most violent region in the United States.
In a subsequent post, Healy drilled further into the numbers and looked at deaths due to assault in different regions of the country. Just as the United States is a clear outlier in the international context, the South is a clear outlier in the national context:
More guns tend to mean more homicide.
The Harvard Injury Control Research Center assessed the literature on guns and homicide and found that there’s substantial evidence that indicates more guns means more murders. This holds true whether you’re looking at different countries or different states. Citations here.
States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.
Last year, economist Richard Florida dove deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths. The disclaimer here is that correlation is not causation. But correlations can be suggestive: