11 December 2012

Small Arms

I was watching a video on YouTube.

Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear was talking about "The Gun".

It's an hour long and it covers the entire span of gun history, so you know that tons and tons gets skipped.

He closes with a comparison of gun crime rates between the USA and several places in Europe.  Florida has 600 deaths per year, he says and indicates that it's more than the rest of the developed world combined.

Like most europeans he's missed something important.  The rate of ownership.

These are mostly 2010 numbers.

Florida has 3.15 (548) gun murders per 100,000 people.  The UK has 0.03.

Florida had 7510 NICS checks for firearm sales per 100,000 people.  Florida has a population of 17,385,430.  What that means is if all those sales were the FIRST gun ever sold to anyone in Florida there are 1,305,646 guns in Florida.  That's 2,382.6 guns to get a single murder.  Oh, there's a lot more guns than that in Florida.

In 2001 the Washington Post did a survey and got 24.5% of 4,454 Floridians to admit they owned a gun.  2000 census says there were 15,982,378 in Florida around that time.  If the poll's rate is consistent with the population that means there were 3,915,683 guns in Florida. If that rate stayed steady there are now 4,259,430 guns in Florida (24.5 guns per 100 people).  And that's STILL not all of them!  Many people own more than one gun, lots own many more than one gun.

4,259,430 guns, 548 murders.  It takes 7,773 (legally owned) guns to get one person dead illegally here.

How about the United Kingdom and its paltry 0.03 GUN murder rate.  19 murders with a firearm

England and Wales have 6.2 guns per 100 residents.  Scotland has 5.5.  Northern Ireland is 21.9!  England has a population of 53,013,000 and Wales is 3,064,000 giving us 3,476,774 guns.  Scotland has 5,254,800 people and 289,014 guns.  Northern Ireland has 1,810,900 folks and 396,587 guns.

63,142,700 people, 4,162,675 guns (219,088 guns per murder with a gun; WOW).  6.6 guns per 100 people total.

BUT United Kingdom had 722 murders in 2012.  That's 1.14 murders per 100k people.  The United Kingdom does not and never has counted the activities of terrorists as murders, we do.

Florida pulls a 5.08 per 100k people rate on overall homicide.  883 murders, 548 with a gun, 335 (1.93 per 100k) with something else.
The UK has gun registration, so those totals are likely correct.  Florida doesn't so we have to extrapolate the gun population from other data.  Florida added 1.3 million guns to the supply in 2010.  That's the norm and we've been doing those kind of numbers for the last five years most certainly.  That survey where they got 24.5% to say they had at least one gun in the house?  It's nearly certain that many gun owners lied and said no.  The national average is 88 guns per 100 people.  If we apply that number to our population we get 15,299,178 legally owned firearms and it takes 27,918 guns to get a single murder.

Why yes, Mr Clarkson, you're more likely to be murdered in the United States.  Yes, you are more likely to be murdered with a gun.

We've got nearly 4x the guns by raw numbers and just 5x the murder rate.

And what does this all mean?  Correlation is not causation.

Statistics are slippery things.

The UK is 94,525.53 square miles.  Florida is 65,754.74.  The UK has 7.64 murders per 1000 sq-mi; Florida, 13.23.  See, Florida isn't quite twice as deadly as the UK!

The average annual temperature in the Capital of Florida is 67.55˚ F.  London is 51.78˚ F.

Florida has 13.07 murders per degree, UK 13.94.  SEE!  Cold kills!

The real answer isn't the guns, or the geography or the mean average temperature at the capital.  The answer is cultural and demographic.

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