Gun ownership and murder rates


Asymptotic Life has been documenting what others have discovered too, that there is no discernable correlation between gun ownership and murder rates. Not by percentage of gun owners, not by population density, not by income level, not by anything anyone can find – and that’s from pro- and anti- gun folks alike.

DC has the lowest reported gun ownership rate and the highest firearms death rate. I’m not even going to try to explain that.


  1. Simple reason: You’re talking about *registered* gun owners. Most guns used in crimes are never registered, and those holding them do not have permits. It’s like saying car accidents don’t seem proportional to the number of licensed drivers when you’re in a state with lots of illegals. It’s not taking into account all the unlicensed drivers. Same thing.

    • Well, in more rural areas like southern Utah where DJ lives or the High Desert where Ten Bears is, most everyone has guns. It’s part of the culture. They grew up with them and know how to use them. And the homicide rate is low.

      But don’t even think of doing a home invasion in rural Utah. The dogs will alert everyone in the house and then you’ll be facing some serious firepower.

      And if you think about it, undocumented workers are probably better, safer drivers than the norm simply because if they have an accident then they have to show ID.

      • My point wasn’t where you’re taking it, quite the opposite. Legal gun ownership isn’t a deterrent either, as it shown by the same links you posted above. Some of the places with the lowest gun death rates have the highest and lowest legal ownership rates.

        My point was if you look at the number of illegal and unregistered ownership levels (which is hard to do, being unregistered), I’m betting you will see a correlation. The problem isn’t an issue of people who legally get and register guns. It’s with people that illegally get guns, most often by stealing them from people who have registered guns or by smuggling them in across the boarder.

        The death rate in the High Desert has less to do with gun ownership, not because people own guns, but because people know each other and rely on each other there. It’s a community factor, not an ownership issue.

        And coming from a state with high numbers of immigrants, I can tell you, no, they certainly do no drive safer. They’re more likely to drive drunk, drive with an unregistered and unsafe vehicle, and drive with an overloaded car or truck. They’re also a lot more likely to hit-and-run, or leave the scene of an accident, and know lots of little by-ways and places to hide. They also tend to own/drive junkers, which are easier to ditch or walk away from. So being unlicensed does not equate to being a better driver, nor does being an unregistered gun owner translate into being less likely to use it for a crime.

        • Oddly, murder rates are low in states that don’t require gun registration, like mine. Everyone here who has guns (and that’s most of us) is an unregistered gun owner.

          But you’re absolutely right about the “community factor.” Even urban places that have worked to rebuild community have seen reductions in crime. IMO it is the loss of community that causes many of our ills, and no amount of legislation will get that back. But grassroots organizing can.

          BTW, the ownership stat in the original post comes not from registrations, but from surveys in which people anonymously indicate whether they have a gun in the home. There may still be some reticence in telling someone about an unlicensed firearm, but based on the time I spent running the streets in bad neighborhoods in LA, I doubt there’s much.

        • LOL. Woody, you’re a fucking moron and a complete tool.

          Before moving to the States in 2008 I went for a semester as an exchange student in a small town in southern Minnesota. Every single fucking time I went out, most of my white, blond-haired friends ended up piss drunk and some even went out driving.

  2. Out here on The High Desert we don’t have too many “illegals”, whatever the fuck that is, and while we do have a damned bad attitude about gun registration laws, we have a very low crime rate.

    Hey woody, can I see your green card?

  3. I think perhaps that economic enclaves are a factor.

    I went to a presentation by USC entitled “sprawl hits the wall”, in which the presenters talked about a burgeoning sector of poor in Los Angeles — a huge swath of people with low income — and how the middle class and wealthy, fearing the poor, increasingly ‘leap frog’ over these neighborhoods and push further and further out of the city to get around them. They then create enclaves for protection.

    Certainly those of us who have lived in Los Angeles know that folks on the west side of town rarely go east of La Brea (some stop at Sepulveda), because of fear of “those people.”

    And when Bob and I visited DC, it seemed to be the same, only more stark. We were severely warned, from the taxi driver to the hotel clerk to the front page of the newspaper, not to go into Prince George County, just east of Washington DC. Very high crime rate and murder rate — and a huge swath of impoverished people, against which the more wealthy had created enclaves.

  4. The fallacy is in only comparing states with states. Try matching the same US information up to comparable countries in size, wealth, and industrialization. Only then will it become clear how absurd and monstrous our problem with guns really is.

  5. By which I mean, that some people who are “enclaved against” and who feel that they have no power in their lives, may seek to have power in whatever way they can, including crime.

  6. UJ, according to NationMaster, we rank #24 in murder rate out of 62 reported nations. That’s less than some “peaceful” nations like Costa Rica and the Baltics. ( And let’s not forget the mass slaughters that occured in Sri Lanka (1983), Rwanda (1994), and Congo (2008) WITHOUT the benefit of guns.

    Taking a look at your analogy with car accidents, we would expect to find the highest accident rates in border states: TX, NM, AZ. In fact, the highest accident rates are found in MT, LA, and MS– nowehere near the border. (

    Sue, I compared murder rate with poverty level and found no correlation there either. Nor with unemployment. In fact, none of the traditional “reasons” for murder hold up statistically.

  7. I am not an advocate for gun ownership, but I do believe that it isn’t the problem. It is a confluence of of issues, i.e.: concentrated poverty, a collective feeling of powerlessness, the influence of illicit drugs – which leads to gang warfare and so on, and lack of proper parenting and basic education. I do not like guns, but they are not the problem either.

    • The most sensible reply in this bunch!

      The USA as a nation has always searched for someone to blame for their problems. They blamed comic books, TV, movies, video games, rap music, heavy metal, etc. when all we needed to blame was poor parenting skills and indifference.

  8. Here’s another view

    “Thirty-seven states scored less than 20 points out of 100 on this year’s Scorecard; 25 states scored 10 points or less. That means nearly three-fourths of the states in America lack even a basic gun violence prevention safety net to protect communities and families from dangerous people who find it easy to obtain firearms. America’s five most violent states, for example – South Carolina, Tennessee, Nevada, Louisiana, and Florida — have no laws to require a Brady criminal background check for every gun sale, no laws to combat illegal gun trafficking effectively, and no laws to restrict access to military-style assault weapons.

    One result is that – as the most recent figures show – South Carolina has the highest violent crime rate in America; Tennessee has the fifth-highest rate of gun homicide; Nevada has America’s fourth-highest gun death rate (including the fourth-highest rate of gun suicide); while Louisiana has the highest gun death rate, highest gun homicide rate, and highest accidental gun death rate in America.”

  9. Huffington has an agenda, though that doesn’t automatically make the statistics wrong. But consider this: SC has one of the highest VIOLENT crime rates, but a good portion (1/3) of all murders were NOT committed with guns. Twelve states, including CA with its strict gun laws, have a higher percentage of murders committed with guns. That suggests that SC’s problems run deeper than lax gun laws.

    In fact, SC’s gun laws look pretty much the same as UT’s. UT actually scored even lower (4%) than SC (9%) on the Brady scorecard. So if there was a link between lax gun laws and violence, you’d expect UT and SC to be similar in violent crime rates– but they aren’t even close. UT ranks 41 in gun-related homicides, while SC ranks 7 (with the lower number being a worse rating).

    It’s incorrect to assert (as in the article UJ references) that a person can walk into a gun store and buy a gun without a background check– that’s a federal law that every state must comply with, regardless of its own laws, with very few exceptions. CCW-holders and gun shows are common exceptions in most states.

    Lastly, the Brady scorecard rates states on whether they ban “military-style assault weapons,” despite the fact that the Justice Department says few crimes get committed with them.

    No one has yet been able to explain to me what the functional difference is between an AK-74 semi-automatic rifle firing a .223 bullet and a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle firing the same .223 bullet. Yet the former would be illegal under such a ban while the latter wouldn’t because it’s not “military style.” In other words, it has no forward pistol grip. How absurd– it’ll do the same job, and unless you’re trained in tactical assault there’s no significant difference between the two. It’s all about perception: the AK LOOKS scarier– and bad guys use them in movies.

    • Yes, these ethnicity/ crime data are available. Just look at City Data and any crime stats website. I can also tell you the personal story from Boston, MA and Jacksonville, FL points of view. Based on the data and my experiences, the conclusion is simple and clear: more blacks/hispanics, more crime.

      • not to be racist but if you really pay attention its 90 % minorities committing murders . look at the show on the a&e channel , THE FIRST 48. almost all murders committed are by non whites . its just a simple fact. blame it on ”poverty” if youd like but what is apparent to anyone with common sense it its these parasites to blame. not guns . without guns what would a law abiding citizen protect themselves with against a criminal who would illegally possess a gun anyways?

        • OK, I have steered away from this topic long enough: there is a higher rate of gun violence by African Americans than whites, but it’s not as high as some would suggest. For example, FBI statistics show that 37% of murders in 2008 were committed by African Americans, 32% by whites, 2% other, and 29% unknown.

          My own research shows that there is also a *slight* correlation between the demographics of a state and its rate of gun violence– there is a more distinct correlation between poverty rates and gun violence. But Jeff and others are clearly exaggerating when they suggest that the vast majority of gun violence is committed by minorities– a casual look at the statistics (not to mention your average prison population) will show that’s not true.

  10. i live in upstate new york and out here we can buy Ar-15’s and M 4’s but are modifed to be semi but people buy them and shave the pin. Now does it make sense to sell them the guns when everyone knows all there going to do is convert it to automatic. Tell me one thing if the legalized to selling of automatic weapons but made it so you have to get a permit such as they do for a pistol, wouldent that make it easier to control the curculation of firearms ?

    • That is b.s. – you cannot convert an AR15 or an M4 (same receiver) to full automatic fire (select fire) by filing the firing pin. I own one – commercially available Ar’s/M4’s require the replacement of the lower receiver (A.T.F. controlled and serialized part requiring an FBI background check to receive even in my state – Florida) and bolt or some serious and complicated modification with a milling machine to become fully automatic (select fire). They cannot be easily converted. Neither, by the way, can an AK-47 (which I also own) By Order of the National Firearms Act which regulates ALL firearms in the united states regardless of state they must be constructed so that they cannot be easily converted to full auto. They are all semi auto,regardless of the Brady bill. And the people who are going out and shooting people (criminals) are not the ones who will turn in there guns if they are outlawed anyway. Banning something outright simply removes our ability as a society to regulate that item, I mean its worked sooo well with pot, heroin, crack, meth, and coke. You cant find that stuff anywhere now that its illegal! Or I dunno ALCOHOL. Prohibition – that worked great!

      • Under Federal law Full Auto Firearms ARE Legal. The NFA simply restricted the importation, manufacture and transfer of full auto weapons in the united states, but all of the full auto weapons already in the united states at that time were “grandfathered in”. These weapons are purchasable and transferable If you – Live in a state which has no laws preventing the civilian ownership of such firearms, can afford it, and can pass an FBI background check (are not and have never been a criminal). The sale can then be affected through a dealer who is licensed for aforementioned items and yes it is heavily regulated by the ATF. but not illegal.

  11. Uh, automatic weapons are extremely controlled. Of all my gun-nut friends, I have only once seen a home-converted full-auto. The reason: even having the parts to do so is a federal crime punishable by ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and forfeiture of the weapon.

    It’s pretty obvious when you’re shooting a firearm whether it’s full auto or not. Any nearby police officer, hearing full-auto fire, is likely to want to check the licensing of the weapon. Your 4th Amendment rights do not apply in the case of a full-auto, so shooting an illegal one is a rather dangerous activity. And what’s the point of having one you can’t shoot?

    As to the idea of shooting that police officer with your automatic weapon, if it happened it would be all over the news. Automatic weapons are NOT commonly used in crimes. Half the automatic weapons in this country are civilian-owned, with the other half owned by police. Yet one source says only a single case of a legally-owned automatic weapon has been recorded since 1934 (and that was by a police officer).

    By the way, the three guns most often used in crimes are: the Smith & Wesson .38 Special, the Smith & Wesson .357 revolver, and the Raven Arms .25 caliber pistol. Still think requiring a permit “as they do for a pistol” will reduce crime?

  12. No reports should be needed; invasion of privacy and right to own guns are the most important given rights by our forefathers of USA… Plus, if Americans lose the right to own weapons crimes will grow so high and more given rights would be taked away. US laws already protect convicts and intruders more than innocent folks of USA… Communism is growing to fast; as law enforcement doesn’t serve and protect, they wait until person(s) are killed before doing anything. No protection is for anyone innocent anymore. Protect your family and friends and vote for the people that is for our rights and protection. until then, I would get all the protection possible…

      • Yeah…
        The only control of guns we have is the control of the legal normal citizens. The criminals buy illegal guns and WILL get them. But then, the only people with guns will be the criminals. Like someone said earlier, prohibition, ring a bell. banning alcohol, and drugs has worked out great in the past — I can go to any Jr. High and but pot, meth, X… let alone a street corner! Banning guns will not work. it would only make it a profitable illegal activity.. then we will have NO control over them, since none wiould be registered.

    • cars are an american favorite. they are cool but they are and can be dangerous.
      girls are an american favorite. they are cool but they are and can be dangerous.
      tools are an american favorite. they are cool but they are and can be dangerous.
      mountains are an american favorite. they are cool but they are and can be dangerous.

      Just because something may be dangerous– or, like an automobile, is dangerous by its very nature– doesn’t speak to whether or not it should be banned, unless you really believe it’s the government’s job to eliminate all risk from our lives. In that case, I’ll refer you to a quote by Edward Abbey:

      “May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”

  13. here’s another thing with all these guns america is just a frigging boot camp and people don’t stop using them to kill others america is going to become a wasteland or graveyard.

  14. I just don´t understand people who don´t believe in the Constitution of the United States of America. I believe in it 100%, I don´t pick and choose my Amendments!

    Those freedom killing commies — they might be coming after my daughter. Let´s be honest: that´s the real reason I will never give up my guns.

    You know what´s sexy? A woman with a gun. Especially if she´s almost naked! RAAWR!

  15. Gun registration has no correlation to murder/shooting stats because people who own guns the legal way tend not to use them illegally. Guns purchased illegally that never go through ballistics or any type of registration are the ones used for crimes. As soon as the stupid democrats come to this realization, everyone will have guns, and therefore the chance to defend themselves. After all….would you attempt to rob/shoot someone if there was a high chance of return fire?
    As Charleton Heston said- “An armed nation is a polite nation.”

  16. My personal opinion on guns is that they aren’t the problem; the real problem are morons with guns. I am 100% sure that if either I or Bob or almost everyone I know had a gun in their possession, we still wouldn’t commit any crimes. Gun control ought to exist to deny ownership to the mentally and socially ill, those who would use them to shoot another person at the first indiscretion, etc.

    I had a friend who was a 100% Certified Gun Nut. He lived and breathed bullets and gun powder. Yet when I asked him what he would do if someone walked up to him with a gun and asked him for his wallet, he said that the very last thing he would let his assailant know is that he had a gun too. Thing is, that a-hole had his gun drawn and pointed at him first. At the first glimpse of a threat, he’d likely open fire and then it wouldn’t matter whether or not he owned a gun.

    And I guess that’s the whole fallacy that just simply by owning a gun you are infinitely safer. You may be better armed than Rambo, but if you get shot first, then you’re as unprotected as someone that is disarmed. Gun ownership ought to be reserved to those with the capacity to understand its responsibilities.

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