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Gimme Some Facts


June 13, 2022

Continuing my search for useful data that helps me understand gun violence. I found the following articles useful to understand where murders using guns are the highest per capita (and where they are the lowest). I did not know that 54 percent of gun related deaths in 2020 were suicides.

Jon Stewart had. program where he emphasized that domestic violence cases are a large percentage of deaths by gun -- and are also the riskiest types of calls for police officers.

Does that mean that suicides and domestic violence account for a vast proportion of the gun-related deaths? It seems to.

Here is a link to a relevant Pew Research analysis of gun violence.

Here is a CNN article that provides some useful data. I have edited out any commentary:

There are more gun deaths in Texas, by far, than in any other state, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Texas suffered 4,164 gun deaths in 2020, the most recent year for which the CDC has published data.

That’s a rate of 14.2 deaths per 100,000 Texans.

California, by comparison, saw 3,449 deaths, a gun death rate of 8.5.

Texas does not have the highest gun death rate, however. Far from it.

The top states by gun death rates are:

  • Mississippi – 28.6.

  • Louisiana – 26.3.

  • Wyoming – 25.9.

  • Missouri – 23.9.

  • Alabama – 23.6.

  • Alaska – 23.5.

Here’s where the lack of good federal data haunts us. It’s hard to find solid gun ownership rates. The RAND Corporation, a non-profit research organization, has tried and published data on average gun ownership by state between 2007 and 2016.

All of those states with the highest gun death rates are among the ones with the highest gun ownership rates.

  • Mississippi – 50% of adults live in a household with a gun.

  • Louisiana – 48%.

  • Wyoming – 59%.

  • Missouri – 48%.

  • Alabama – 50%.

  • Alaska – 59%.

Where there are fewer guns, there are fewer gun deaths. The states with the lowest gun death rates in 2020, per the CDC (alongside the percentage of homes with a gun in 2007-2016, per RAND) were:

  • Hawaii – 3.4 (8% of adults live in a household with a gun).

  • Massachusetts – 3.7 (10%).

  • New Jersey – 5 (8%).

  • Rhode Island – 5.1 (11%).

  • New York – 5.3 (14%).

The states with lower gun violence rates are mostly among the states with the strongest gun laws. Conversely, with the exception of Louisiana, the states with the highest gun death rates and highest gun ownership rates are among the states that have the most lax gun laws.

Most gun deaths are suicides

Most gun deaths do not involve a mass shooting. Most gun deaths are suicides. In 2020, 54% of gun deaths in the US were suicides, which are far less likely to get sustained public attention, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of CDC data. A majority of the gun-related suicides are in rural areas.

Cities often have higher gun violence rates than states

Chicago does have a horrifically high murder rate, although the guns there often come from a neighboring state.

There are higher murder rates in other cities, and they’re often in places with more lax gun laws, like Jackson, Mississippi. the cities with the highest gun homicide rates in 2020 were all in states with lax gun laws:

  • Jackson, Mississippi – 69 gun homicides per 100,000 people.

  • Gary, Indiana – 64.

  • St. Louis – 50.

  • New Orleans – 48.

  • Memphis, Tennessee – 47.

Baltimore, where the gun laws are relatively strict, was next.

Murder rates rising

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a rise in gun violence, and in January, a CNN analysis found 10 of the nation’s most populous cities set homicide records last year, mostly because of guns. The cities were: Philadelphia; Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Portland, Oregon; Memphis, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; Milwaukee; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Tucson, Arizona.

In the large cities hardest hit by gun violence, there are areas that are relatively untouched compared with areas that are under attack, as researchers from the Brookings Institution found in a report published last month.

In Chicago, they said, gun homicides in 2019 and 2020 were concentrated in neighborhoods far from the city center “that have long suffered from severe disinvestment as a result of white flight, and are now centers of concentrated poverty with predominantly Black residents.”

In other words, it’s generations of neglect and division that help drive the murder rate in cities. All these deaths – rural suicide, urban murder and mass shootings everywhere – have one thing in common: guns.

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