In the wake of some particularly high-profile mass shootings, the national debate over gun control is perhaps more heated than ever. Does gun control actually result in fewer deaths? Or does the solution lie in some other kind of protection?
A study published today in JAMA Internal Medicine found that more firearm laws are in fact associated with fewer firearm deaths, although that may not actually tell us whether one leads to the other.
Researchers from Harvard University and the Boston Children's Hospital looked at firearm-related fatalities between 2007 and 2010 and compared each state's rate of firearm fatalities per 100,000 people. They created "legislative strength scores" on a scale of 0 to 28 for each state's firearm laws, with each law counting as one point. (Gun-loving Utah came in with a score of 0, while Massachusetts had the strongest laws with a score of 24.)
For the four years they examined, there were 121,084 gun-related deaths in the U.S. -- 73,702 suicides and 47,382 homicides. The overall fatality rate was 9.9 per 100,000 individuals a year. According to the study, there were about 300 state firearm laws on the books across the nation as of 1999.
Controlling for various factors like poverty, unemployment, population density and house-hold firearm ownership, the analysis found that a larger number of gun laws in a state was associated with lower rates of both firearm homicides and suicides. However, the researchers didn't make any ground-breaking pronouncement about the relationship between gun laws and gun violence, warning that the study was "ecological and cross-sectional and could not determine cause-and-effect relationship."
A 2011 analysis of gun deaths by The Atlantic showed a similar association:
It is also possible that gun laws pass in states where there is already a lot of opposition to guns, and don't pass where people are predisposed to own guns. As the researchers point out, "High levels of gun ownership might be related to both high rates of firearm deaths and a cultural environment in which it is more difficult for a state to enact strict firearm laws."
However, scientific examination of the causes of gun violence has been handicapped for years due to federal regulations that prohibited using national science funding to "advocate or promote gun control," though President Obama called for an expansion of research in his 23 executive actions on gun control in January.
"When rates of firearm violence were at historic highs and appeared to be increasing, the government abandoned its commitment to understanding the problem and devising evidence based solutions," UC Davis professor Garen Wintemute writes in the invited commentary associated with the study.
Wintemute, the director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, points out that this particular study has a few limitations. The legislative scores were based on information from two advocacy groups, The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and did not measure how effectively states might enforce their gun laws or how guns flow between states. The score system hasn't been validated.
"It is as if the scientists have both hands tied behind their backs," Wintemute writes. "In fact, that is precisely what has happened—not just to these investigators, who did well with the data available to them, but to firearm violence researchers generally."
Inb4 political bias comment.
This is showing the SCIence for a topic dominating POPular culture.
I have no problem with politically tinged stories as long as there is science to back it up.
I bet some statistics guys really dig this kind of article. Also you cant blame them, they have ads on the site and need to keep people coming to the site.
As a Vermonter this debate is interesting to watch unfold...
FYI VT has the loosest gun laws in the country. I dont own guns however but on the same hand many Vermonter have common sense weapons, not tricked out AR15's.
Careful, wouldn't want to accidentally use any unbiased sources of information.
I do think the title is misleading, i mean even in the article they say that this evidence is non definitive, and non correaltional. Also i don't understand why suicides were added to this. If they didn't have a gun i'm sure they would find another way....When I see those numbers i always think they are padding the numbers....
So, Washington D.C. is the gun murder capital of the world. It's something like 8 or 12 times the national average. DC also has the strictest gun laws in the country.
It's not a law thing, its a culture thing. You can't legislate murder away. Switzerland has a MASSIVE amount of guns, but pretty loose gun laws. The US has a MASSIVE amount of guns and some states with pretty strict gun laws. More people die in the US from being shot. So, if the guns aren't the problem, maybe we should stop trying to control who has what and start addressing the reasons people in the US are more likely to pop a cap in someone's behind than those in Switzerland.
When it all comes down to it, I believe about 80% of the problems in the US are economic.... Money, religion or women... only three reasons for disputes in this world...
Reminder... correlation doesn't equal causation.
Look at NH and Maine on that map, some very lose gun control up there but very low mortality rates. I would like to see that map again with suicides removed.....
Science Confirms The Obvious: Gun Laws Are Associated With Fewer Gun Deaths
"Gun Laws" and "Gun Deaths"
What should be obvious to all is that there still isn't any evidence that gun laws make you safer.
Take if for face value, the article may be true. Take it how it is meant to be taken, it's deceptive.
POPSCI, maybe I missed it but where is the Insane Freako Killer with a gun map? It appears the data does not show them.
Also, in your story: "The legislative scores were based on information from two advocacy groups, The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence". Seriously? Of course your data would be skewed.
Bottom line: You guys like colored maps and have no real data to back up the story. Way below board for you smarties.
DON'T LET THEM INSULT YOUR INTELLIGENCE
Using the misleading “Gun Violence/Deaths" is an often used statistic used by pro-gun control folks. It's misuse is what made me raise my eyebrow and look into the debate as a whole because I had previously been in the middle about gun control, slightly leaning left on the issue, as I do on many social issues.
The goal of gun-control is to promote a safer environment by reducing violent crime and homicides. Using "Gun Crime" stats begins with the assumption that guns are the problem and excludes any other possible explanations for the problem of violent crime and homicides and therefore it's use is deceptive and misleading. If gun violence/deaths go down, but violence/deaths by other means goes up to make up for the reduction, or even EXCEED the original statistics, the goal of a safer environment is NOT met.
If this is the case, it would mean: 1. You're imposing a costly and ongoing program than does not have a positive effect and possibly has a negative effect. This is potentially dangerous and squanders resources that can go toward something that DOES work. 2. You are impeding on guaranteed constitutional rights of individuals to protect themselves, upheld by supreme court decisions.
All scientific studies including one conducted 2013 by Obama's own DOJ (he IGNORES it) on the subject come up negative when it comes to gun laws and reducing violence or homicides. Some suggest possible harm.
The next time you see some stooge on TV talking about “gun crime” stats, I hope you'll ask yourself why they have to resort to deception to make their points.
The inclusion of suicide deaths makes the study useless. Hopefully this was not publicly funded and the bias is too obvious.
Only the relationship between the number of violent crimes committed (thousands per year) with guns and the number of violent crimes prevented with guns (millions per year) is relevant at all.
The conclusions are obvious to all unbiased observers.
Only a fool fails to provide for his own self defense which by nature cannot be provided by another.
Popsci, I havent logged in for years, as I havent felt this compelled to respond, though now, in the face of your obviousky crap data, I didnt have a choice.
Every single person who can read in America already knows your entire map is bunk, lol what 3 states have the highest number of gun murders a year?
Here, let me inform you since your too stupid to even google " gun violence in american cities".
It is california, newyork, and illinois, guess which ones your shows having alkost none? Ya thats right all 3.
Your a bunch of worthless hacks, you have no morals obviously, or you wouldt be trying to peddle this crap as fact.
Lol like indiana has a much higher gun murder rate than illinois, chicago alone, has over 15 times the gun murders every year, as the entire state of indiana.
I would wipe my nether regions with this crap, your the most worthless type of people alive.
" the ends always justify the means though right?"
With a median firearm related death rate around .01% and with around 61% of those deaths being suicides (leaving a median of about .0039% being homicides) I am more worried about dying from a diarrhea disease (with a median death rate around 3.15% or in the ballpark of 1000x the median firearm homicide rate) than I am being killed by a gun, and I assure you, I am not worried in the slightest about dying from a diarrhea disease.
with less people owning guns, more people will be able to defend themselves if a war were to break out on american soil... do we want to support taking away rights and freedoms? highly controversial, but logically speaking it's better a family can defend itself in case of invasion.
i mean with less people giving up there guns we as citizens have a more promised protection rate in case of invasion
So science is cool and all until it threatens America's gun addiction.
No sane person can honestly say that if we have no regulation on guns, bad people won't get guns.
An argument about whether assault rifles should be banned or not is valid. An argument that buying guns at a gun show should void people the responsibility of a background check is stupid.
But does it actually lower the deaths-murders overall with or without guns?
@ReddWhite lol! Yeah lots of us feel the same way man. I read POPSCI every single morning, and I only comment in these politically charged pieces. It's like they are very serious about science and the scientific process all the way up until it comes to the political crap. Then they get weird and illogical.
It's getting to the point where I may stop arguing with libtards and just laugh like some of us do when people fall down...lol.
My statistics prof once did a study to show how biased estimators can cause false results.
He first asked everyone in the class, boys and girls, to count the coins in their pockets and give this count, as well as their heights to him for the example.
He then proved statistically that tall people are more likely to have more coins in their pockets that short people.
What you have in the above article is unrepresentative sample. The numbers, although they seem to bear out the premise, are too small to prove anything concrete.
There is very little, if anything, to show that gun laws in general do anything to prevent gun violence.
PopSci confirms the obvious: New York-based staff doesn't like guns and will cite flawed studies to confirm their bias, exhibiting shocking dearth of critical thinking skills.
A quick perusal of the internet will show that as of 2011, New York has a higher gun homicide rate (4.12 per 100,000) than Arizona (3.58) or Utah (0.97). Yet the map shows New York has a lower gun mortality rate than Arizona. What?
The JAMA study is trying to correlate ALL gun homicides--2/3 of which are suicides--to gun control laws. So what does the study actually show? Nothing really, except that Northeastern Americans, who are much more liberal than Midwestern Americans (check their voting patterns), have different attitudes about guns. As a consequence, fewer New Yorkers possess guns, are more likely to choose other methods of suicide, and are willing to pass more restrictive gun control laws. Conversely, more Utahns and Arizonans own guns and are thus more likely to use them in a suicide and they have less restrictive gun laws.
What's lost in all of this debate about gun control laws is that even as gun control laws around the country are becoming less restrictive, gun homicides and violent crime continues to drop every year. In other words, there is no net beneficial effect on reducing violent crime or gun homicides from more restrictive gun control laws.
Or to put it another way, gun homicides continue to drop each year as gun control laws are struck down (by the Supreme Court) and become less restrictive. Is there a correlation? Possibly; but exactly the OPPOSITE of what gun control advocates claim.
@Shaunacy, As a new writer for PopSci, do they let you come up with your own story ideas & headlines or is that decided by your managing editors? Truly curious about the process. thx
Places with less spoons have less fat people.
My guns have not killed one politician yet.
I like how the article title starts "Science Confirms the Obvious..." and then ends with "...we need more research" as if to say "HERE IS A BIASED HEADLINE..." ended with "... please don't read the contradictory finer print"
I hate when writers peddle the "More Gun laws = Less Gun Deaths" article. It's misleading to people who don't think critically. Which is unfortunately a lot of people. It's also misleading to people who are bad with data, people who can't stomach an article with lots of numbers in it and illiterate people who would look at your map and take it as scientific proof that Gun Laws are an avenue to a safer society. If you are going to write about scientific data then be responsible about it.
There are 150 million people in this country who feel their right to own a weapon is at stake. That's a serious issue. If you aren't going to enter in to the argument on gun control objectively then don't enter at all.
Honestly, I think I learn more from you guys dissecting data and sharing comments than I do from the articles, far more entertaining too.
PS My dad always advised me against suicide by saying "Son, never kill an idiot."
Ah, don't you just love it, science perverted in the service of politics. You guys angling for an invitation to some Whitehouse cocktail party or something.
This isn't science, this is pure unadulterated nonsense.
LMAO. What a bunch of bunk. These same charts have been constantly rehashed. They purposely excluded death between youths 14-18 in most major cities because of gang deaths. It just so happens the states with the most gang deaths by guns are the only shown on these charts as the most safe.
LAME ! ! ! !
It's really sad to see these insane liberals drive this science website into the ground. Not many people are tolerating this idiocy anymore, just look at these comments.
If your goal is to strive for zero credibility, then congratulations, you're just about there.
You asked the question "Does gun control actually result in fewer deaths?" You did not answer it by saying "A study published today in JAMA Internal Medicine found that more firearm laws are in fact associated with fewer firearm deaths." If you took away knives, there would be fewer knife deaths. If you took away hammers, there would be fewer hammer deaths. Duh. That doesn't mean the guy who sets out to kill his wife isn't going to use a knife or a hammer if the gun is taken away.
I thought you said something about science giving us an answer? Oops, forgot, until recently PopSci was part of the Time Inc. propaganda machine.
A lot of gun fans take Switzerland as example of a country with loose gun laws. How ever. In Switzerland you can not buy automatic gun, must have mental checkup, have clean criminal record,can't have more than 3 guns and must have permit to carry a gun in public which is usually only issued with a reason (i.e. security officers). Meanwhile in many states a mentally ill person with criminal record may legally acquire automatic riffle without any problems. So yeah. Guns don't kill people. People kill. But laws can reduce risks of guns getting in wrong hands.
Sandy Hook appears to be a government sponsored hoax. How does a dead girl end up sitting on Obama's knee..The government cannot be trusted with a sharp pencil. Like Ron Paul says..."Take the guns from the FEDS".