Conservatives and Guns

This is a follow up to The Irony of McDonald v. Chicago. One cannot post anything about firearms here on the Intertubes without some Second Amendment Uber Alles activist showing up to explain that eliminating firearm restrictions reduces gun violence. Well, take a look at this chart:

Crime Statistics > Firearms Death Rate per 100,000 (most recent) by state

The data is from 2002, so most recent trends may differ. I believe these are deaths of all types, including accidents and suicides. Just note that the top 20 states in gun fatalities (I’m not counting the District of Columbia, which is an anomaly in several different ways) are all solid red. The bottom 10 states are all blue or purple.

Differences in the amount of firearm violence from one place to another can have many causes beside differences in the law. One of the low-violence states, New Hampshire, has very lenient firearm purchase and possession laws, although I believe most of the other low-violence states lean more in the direction of restrictions. The high-violence states tend to be more rural than urban, but so are some of the low-violence states. I’m not seeing a clear correlation between poverty levels and gun violence at the state level, although you might see that at a city level. I assume that Alaska — the most trigger-happy state in the nation — is not being overrun by illegal immigrants from Mexico. So the only conclusion one can draw from this data, I believe, is that there is a strong tendency for more conservative states to have a higher rate of firearm fatalities. Make of that what you will.

Note to firearm “libertarians”: Be polite, argue from facts with links, and address only what is discussed in this post, or your comments will be deleted. See comment policy.

Update: From the Stuff That Ought to Be Obvious Department — this is from a UPI story from 2008

States with high rates of gun ownership have the highest firearm death rates, an analysis by a U.S. non-profit group found. …

…The five states with the highest per capita gun death rates — Louisiana, Alaska, Montana, Tennessee and Alabama — had a per capita gun death rate far exceeding the national per capita gun death rate of 10.32 per 100,000.

Louisiana had the highest rate of gun death, 19.04 per 100,000 and has household gun ownership of 45.6 percent. Alaska had a gun death rate 17.49 per 100,000 and household gun ownership of 60.6 percent. Montana had a gun death rate of 17.22 per 100,000 and 61.4 percent gun ownership.

Conversely, states with the lowest levels of gun ownership had the lowest levels of gun death rates.

Hawaii has a household gun ownership of 9.7 percent and a gun death rate of 2.20 per 100,000. Massachusetts has 12.8 percent rate of gun ownership and a gun death rate of 3.48 per 100,000. Rhode Island has a household gun ownership of 13.3 percent and a gun death rate of 3.63 per 100,000, the researchers said.

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