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Monday, March 5, 2018

Guns, Men, and Murder: The Data

I love guns. I’ve been around them all of my life, and I currently own several—for hunting and self-defense. One of my most memorable gifts growing up was a single-shot 410 shotgun (that I got for Christmas when I was 12). Before I was old enough to own a real gun, my friends and I were quite skilled in using all sorts of scrap wood, duct tape, nails, and so on to manufacture the most magnificent replicas. Back then, if I was not playing with some sort of ball, I was in some sort of battle.

Not all of my experiences with guns have been pleasant. One of the toughest moments in the life of my family happened when I was 17. At the time, my 13-year-old brother was hunting turkeys near our home. A tragic accident with a faulty double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun cost him his right arm.

Nevertheless, soon after he had healed from having his arm amputated, my brother was learning to shoot—even long guns and compound bows

My brother shooting a compound bow--with one arm.

—with one arm. (He also played high school baseball and football with one arm.) Now in his mid-forties, he still hunts (and fishes) to this day. In other words, even enduring a traumatic and tragic accident involving a gun as a young teenager, neither he—nor the rest of us close to him—ever let a fear or a hatred of guns creep into our psyche.

After another horrific shooting at a “gun-free” government school, those corrupted by a liberal worldview would have all of us share their fear and hatred (warning: language) of guns, or at least their hatred of guns in the hands of those who stand opposed to a liberal, big-government agenda.

Thus, instead of more good guys with guns, time and again liberals insist that the answer to stopping those bent on doing evil with powerful weapons is to take guns from the good guys. The infamous Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County, FL again made this foolish argument—tragically to “thunderous applause”—when debating the NRA’s Dana Loesch.

Responding to Loesch and pushing democrat talking points to a (mostly) like-minded audience, Israel told the Parkland crowd, “You just told this group of people that you are standing up for them. You’re not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less weapons.’” Of course, “less weapons” means “less guns,” and “less guns” means elect more democrats so that we can have—among many other terrible outcomes—a bigger government with more “gun control” laws. As the data reveals, in the United States, fewer guns or more gun control laws do NOT equal less murder.

Last year it was widely reported that the vast majority of murders in the U.S. occur within a very small portion of the country. More than half of all murders in the U.S. occurred within just two percent of the counties. Over two-thirds (68 percent) of the murders in America occurred within only five percent of the counties. (There are 3,141 counties, or county equivalents, in the U.S.)

This table shows the worst three percent of counties, in which almost 60 percent of the murders occur. Almost all of these counties are in large urban areas, where democrats rule. Of course, large populations will typically have more murders. What we should consider in this debate is the murder rate in these counties.

Of the 10 worst counties for the number of murders, five of them are also among the worst when it comes to murder rate. Of the 30 counties with the highest murder rate, 19 of them are in the worst three percent for total number of murders. But whether one considers the sheer number of murders, or the murder rate, the other telling and significant piece of data in our debate is the presence of guns in these areas.

City-Data lists the top 101 counties when it comes to “lowest percentage of residents that keep firearms around their homes” and “highest percentage of residents that keep firearms around their homes.” As the table linked above also reveals, of the three percent of counties—95 total counties—with the highest number of murders, 43 of these counties are in the top 101 when it comes to lowest rates of gun ownership.

Only 19 of these counties are in the top 101 when it comes to highest rates of gun ownership. Of the 10 counties in the U.S. with the most murders, all are in the top 101 when it comes to lowest rates of gun ownership.

Additionally, as this table reveals, the overall murder rate for the top 101 of highest and lowest rates of gun ownership is virtually identical. The murder rate for the top 101 counties with the highest rates of gun ownership is 6.28 per 100,000. The murder rate for the top 101 counties with the lowest rates of gun ownership is 6.15 per 100,000. Also, of the 30 counties with the highest murder rate, nine of them are in the top 101 of lowest rates of gun ownership, while five of them are in the top 101 of highest rates of gun ownership.

At the state level—where data is more readily available—the numbers reveal the same: there’s no correlation between the presence of guns and the rate of murder. The average murder rate for the first 25 states (lowest half of gun ownership rates) is 5.0. The average murder rate ranking for the last 25 states (upper half of gun ownership rates) is 4.9. For the bottom 10 and top 10, the average is 4.2 and 4.3 respectively.

The average murder rate ranking for the first 25 states is 24.4. The average murder rate ranking for the last 25 states is 27.6. For the bottom 10 and top 10, the average is 22.8 and 23.7 respectively. Put simply, more guns does not mean more murder. And inversely, fewer guns does not mean fewer murders. Put another way, more laws against gun ownership has done almost nothing to reduce the rate of murder in America.

The only way to reduce murder is to recognize that it is an act of evil that must be dealt with from a proper political and spiritual perspective. Men murder because their hearts are dark. To stop them, we must meet force with force. To change men, we must get to their hearts. Sound legislation can work to protect us, but focusing on the weapon of murder and attempting to legislate away evil by targeting a tool is the height of folly.

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2018, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

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