The PJ Tatler

'Zero Correlation' Between Gun Laws and Crime

Don't believe a word of it.

No. Next question

Next time your lefty friends start nattering on about “gun violence” (as in the meme above, which went viral the other day), point them to this analysis by Eugene Volokh in the Washington Post:

There’s been much talk recently — including from President Obama — about there being a substantial correlation between state-level gun death rates and state gun laws. Now correlation obviously doesn’t equal causation; there may be lots of other factors that are the true causes of both of the things that are being measured. But if we do look for now at correlation, it seems to me that the key question should focus on state total homicide rates, or perhaps (for reasons I describe below) total intentional homicide plus accidental gun death rates. And it turns out that there is essentially zero correlation between these numbers and state gun laws.

Volokh makes so many good points in this piece that you really must read the whole thing. Among them, the “common-sense” fact that when “gun murders” go down, the murder rate itself does not; homicide simply gets displaced. Another good point — since the Left routinely lumps suicides (the majority of gun deaths) in with homicides — is the moral distinction between taking your own life and taking another’s:

Suicides are quite different from homicides. Morally speaking, restraining people’s liberty, and in particular their ability to defend themselves, to prevent murder of unwilling victims deaths is quite different from restraining that liberty to prevent others from willingly killing themselves. It is no accident, I think, that the calls for gun restriction are usually specifically tied to murders — whether mass killings or the aggregate of individual killings — and not to suicides.

Suicide is also likely to be driven by many factors related to culture and the person’s living situation, factors very different from those involved in homicide. The age-adjusted suicide rate among blacks in the U.S., for instance, is less than 40% of the suicide rate among whites, while the homicide rate is much higher for blacks than for whites — and that’s just one of many examples.

The correlation between the homicide rate and Brady score in all 51 jurisdictions is +.032 (on a scale of -1 to +1), which means that states with more gun restrictions on average have very slightly higher homicide rates, though the tendency is so small as to be essentially zero. (If you omit the fatal gun accident rates, then the correlation would be +.065, which would make the more gun-restricting states look slightly worse; but again, the correlation would be small enough to be essentially zero, given all the other possible sources of variation.)

Remember — when the Left starts nattering on about “gun control,” the emphasis should be on the second word, not the first.