BradyWatch: moar graphs!

There is a long and fascinating debate taking place on the blog of a Brady Campaign board member who has actually decided to engage us in a debate. I love graphs, so I decided to make one, complete with trendlines for the crime stats:

Brady score vs crime by state, 2007.png

What we see is quite interesting. First of all, it is indeed true that states with lower Brady scores have more “gun deaths”. And that’s where the Brady board member wants to stop.

However, the truth is a bit more complicated than this. “Gun deaths” actually includes both murder committed with a firearm and also justifiable shootings by police and private citizens—something very bad and something very good, respectively. Many “gun deaths” could be telling us that these states have more gun murders, or more justifiable killings by police officers—they’re all included in such a vague and nebulous figure as “gun deaths.”

Therefore, it makes more sense to look instead at homicide specifically, which is the killing that’s criminal in nature. I have included both homicide committed with a firearm and also homicide in general. What we see is that both types of homicide have no correlation whatsoever with a state’s Brady score. The trendline is essentially flat; you are no more likely to be murdered—with or without a firearm—in states with high Brady scores as you are in states with low Brady scores.

But the Brady Campaign doesn’t always talk about its rating, it likes to say things like “more guns equals more death!” So instead of comparing states by their Brady scores, let’s compare them on their rates of gun ownership:

Gun ownership vs crime by state, 2007.png

Again, you see the same trend: states with more gun ownership have higher rates of gun deaths, but nearly identical rates of firearm homicide and homicide in general. So again, you are no more likely to be murdered—with or without a firearm—in states with high gun ownership as you are in states with low gun ownership.

Conclusions:

Greater firearms ownership and lower Brady scores ARE correlated with more gun deaths.

Greater firearms ownership and lower Brady scores ARE NOT correlated more higher gun homicides.

Greater firearms ownership and lower Brady scores ARE NOT correlated with more homicides in general.

In other words, the amount of gun control and gun ownership doesn’t tell you anything about your likelihood of being a victim of homicide, with or without a gun involved.

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One response to “BradyWatch: moar graphs!

  1. What about accidental gun deaths? Aka, some kid shoots his friend with his dad’s gun. I’m hoping these would not be “justifiable shootings”, but they would be “gun deaths”. I don’t know the statistics, but it seems misleading to leave them out of the graph and assume all non-homicide deaths are good.

    And who knows… they may even debunk the Brady score even further?

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