After the latest mass shooting in Newtown, CT, the question of gun violence in the US again came to the top of the news. Clearly gun ownership is not the only cause of violence (one camp in this debate argues "guns don't kill people, people kill people") but gun ownership is an important cause - since there is no gun violence without guns.
A recent KDnuggets poll asked:
What is the connection between gun deaths and gun ownership?
Globally, most KDnuggets readers believe that there is weak positive connection between gun ownership and gun deaths - more guns/capita lead to more deaths. Outside the US most KDnuggets readers believe that the connection is strong. There is, however a vocal minority of sceptics, mostly concentrated in the US, where about 8% believe in the negative connection - more guns lead to less deaths.
Here is a summary of the poll results by region:
For full results and discussion see www.kdnuggets.com/2012/12/poll-results-gun-ownership-gun-deaths-connection.html
The debate on the gun violence and gun ownership connection has a clear Democrat/Republican divide - see recent analysis by Nate Silver.
However, regardless of your political opinions, please put on your analytics professional hat, look at the graphs and data below
- Gun deaths vs Gun ownership for all countries.
- Gun deaths vs Gun ownership for countries with GDP > $20,000
- Gun homicides vs Gun ownership for countries with GDP > $20,000
- Gun homicides vs Gun ownership for countries with GDP > $20,000, excluding US
A few relevant data points and articles
- United States is #1 in gun ownership per capita, with 88.8 guns/ 100 people.
- List of countries by firearm-related death rate (Wikipedia)
- Gun Deaths vs. Gun Ownership, by Mark Reid. He also provides data on guns, death, OECD, and R code.
- Why Video Games Don't Correlate to Gun Violence, The Atlantic
Circle color corresponds to percent of suicides, scaled red (100%) to green (1%).
United States is #12 in gun-related death rate, with 9.2 deaths per 100,000 people, behind El Salvador, Jamaica, Honduras, Guatemala, Swaziland, Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, but significantly ahead of other economically advanced countries.
We also note that the small green circles for countries like El Salvador, Jamaica, Honduras, Guatemala indicate that most of the gun deaths in high-violence poor countries are homicides. Red color for US, Switzerland, Serbia indicates that most of the gun deaths in rich countries are suicides.
Since in most advanced countries most of the gun deaths are due to suicides (for example:
USA 64%, Switzerland 88%, Canada 78%),
here is a chart which is limited only to gun homicides in countries with GDP over $20,000.
USA clearly stands out on both axes.
When number of suicidies was not available, it was estimated as average of similar countries. For example for El Salvador, Jamaica, Honduras, Guatemala, Swaziland Wikipedia only gives the total number of deaths. I estimated the number of suicides per 100,000 people as an average of these numbers for Colombia, Brazil, Mexico - which turns out to be 0.75, and adjusted the number of homicides by subtracting the # of suicides from the total number of gun deaths.
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