Gun laws versus gun deaths — is there really a correlation, as Obama claims?

Obama on Oregon shooting:

We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths.  So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.

He was probably basing this on National Journal analysis.

Even the Washington Post fact checkers gave this statement Two Pinocchios, because when you remove suicides from gun deaths there is little correlation between tough laws and gun deaths. The president was talking about mass murder, not suicides.

“This is a classic situation in which a politician bases a statement on a study, but then exaggerated the conclusions to justify a policy,” the Post concluded. “It also lacks context because the results change, sometimes dramatically, when suicides are removed from the gun deaths. (Alaska moving from 50th to 25th, Utah going from 31st to 8th and Maryland falling from 15th to 45th are rather dramatic swings.)”

Reason magazine reached a similar conclusion: “To get a clearer idea of what’s going on, you would at least want to see whether the adoption of certain gun controls is associated with reductions in gun death rates, as compared to pre-existing trends in the states that adopt them and ongoing trends in the rest of the country. In any case, it clearly is not true that permissive gun laws are inevitably accompanied by higher gun death rates, especially if you focus on homicides, which is the main threat cited by proponents of new gun controls.”

Then, what about the mere presence of guns per capita versus gun violence?




19 comments on “Gun laws versus gun deaths — is there really a correlation, as Obama claims?

  1. nyp says:

    why would you remove suicides from the database of deaths caused by guns?

  2. Steve says:

    Why would you limit suicide stats to death by firearms?

  3. nyp says:

    that is a stupid comment. We are talking about the correlation b/w firearm regulation and death by firearms.

  4. Steve says:

    Your question opened the door because the discussion is about murder by firearm…not suicide.

    If my comment is “stupid” then it was your own stupidity that raised it in the first place.

  5. Rincon says:

    You both have a point. If gun laws aren’t effectively stopping murders, then it’s an important fact, but if it prevents suicides, and the number is significant, how can anyone say that is unimportant?

    Of course, simple correlation isn’t helpful anyway. Chicago has very tough gun laws, but do you think any of the guns used in our ubiquitous murders are legally purchased in Chicago? As long as legal guns are within driving distance, a lack of a correlation between gun deaths and gun laws means nothing at all. And yes, Obama was disingenuous with his statement.

  6. Steve says:

    The president and candidates running for office are all talking about murders by firearms and using statistics that include suicides as support for their positions.

    But suicides are, far and away, the lions share of that particular statistic and that makes their (and nyp’s) position false.
    If suicides are to be considered then it must be based on all forms of that disease. Moreover, adding to gun laws is not the answer.
    The answer is to find ways to help people. A good start happened just the other day, but you will NEVER hear nyp (or any other of his peeps) whisper even one thing about it. It just doesn’t fit their “never let a good tragedy go to waste” philosophy.

  7. Rincon says:

    According to your link, the administrators apparently found out about the plot via students who overheard conversations and reported them. You call that a good start?

  8. Steve says:


    The student who informed the proper authority did the right thing. The idiots who were arrested might, now, be helped and we might be able to learn what motivated them to plan this thing.

    Nothing but a win win in this one.

    But you would NEVER have heard about it from any of the candidates crowing about gun control…let alone our friend in cyberspace, nyp. It simply does not fit their “never let a good tragedy go to waste” philosophy.

    But it IS what is needed.

  9. Spot on Mr. Mitchell and Bill Whittle!

  10. Rincon says:

    Sorry Steve, I don’t think I took your phrase the way you meant it. To me, a good start implied that something could follow and this case was a one time event. Definitely a good news story though.

  11. Steve says:

    Something most certainly can follow, we can learn a lot from those individuals.
    Hopefully we can learn to teach people to talk about things they hear about before they are carried out.
    That guy in Oregon was egged on in social media. 4chan to be specific. But you won’t find that in the news reports anymore, they have been quietly edited out.
    If just one of those people had had the intestinal fortitude to forward the chat to authorities they might have been able to prepare, at the least the ONE and ONLY security guard MIGHT have been allowed to actually carry a gun!

    They aren’t called Victim Disarmament Zones for nothing.

    Dreamers, unicorns and rainbows.

  12. Steve says:

    Facebook video is not public. Oh well, it was poignant.

  13. Rincon says:

    So your big plan is to get kids to report suspicious behavior to authorities. Certainly worthwhile, but isn’t maintaining a stockpile of 14 guns suspicious behavior? The Oregon shooter lived with his mother Authorities found 8 guns in her apartment and the six gins found with the shooter which we suspect were taken from the apartment. A quote from a three year old online post by his mother: “I keep two full mags in my Glock case. And the ARs & AKs all have loaded mags. No one will be ‘dropping’ by my house uninvited without acknowledgement,” Sounds like she (and probably her son) would fit in just fine with the Tea Party.

    So just what would be needed for kids to report? Perhaps if they hear a little miscreant bragging that he’s going to do it? If they had in this case, the authorities might have gone to the home, but unless there was a written plan to be found, keeping 14 guns loaded in an apartment isn’t considered suspicious behavior anyway, so there would be nothing the authorities could do. After all, kids have been known to make up stories to get another kid in trouble.

  14. Rincon says:

    BTW, an article in this week’s Economist (10/3/15 p. 33) subtitled, “Explaining low inflation” cited Obamacare as one of the causes. Historically, medical care contributes more than its share to inflation, but not recently. Also, more Baby Boomers are going into Medicare, which pays less than insurance companies. Conservatives criticize this, but wouldn’t they criticize more if private enterprise paid less than Medicare? Some people are just never happy.

  15. Steve says:

    Blaming the object is easy, helping people is hard. You know where the easy road leads.

    There was enough information on 4chan to give authorities reasonable cause for surveillance.

    And that ONE and ONLY security guard could have been “allowed” to carry a weapon had the school been informed something might be coming.

    “Big idea” indeed. Better than your constant whining about inanimate objects.

  16. Rincon says:

    You forget that I’m a moderate on gun control. Background checks are a no brainer. Paranoid schizophrenics shouldn’t be allowed open access to firearms. I mainly advocate making background checks necessary for everyone and eliminating the existing loopholes that negate the objective of background checks in the first place. Otherwise, reducing homicides is at least partly a justice system problem. For example, the penalty for attempted murder should be the same as for murder. I don’t believe in rewarding failure.

  17. Steve says:

    Proper reporting of real mental issues would be a good start and is in line with what I showed.

    Getting people to alert the authorities, rather than believing they are somehow the enemy, is paramount.

  18. Rincon says:

    Good luck with that. Conservatives have painted government as the enemy for decades. That being said, I agree with your suggestions. Making it legal once again to lock up loonies would be worth considering as well. Although there were abuses in the past, the pendulum swung way too far when we turned almost all of our mental patients onto the streets. Today, we “trust” paranoid schizophrenics to take their medicine regularly. Many don’t.

  19. Steve says:

    “pendulum swung way too far” on LOTS of things.

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