Samstag, 22. Dezember 2012

Gunownership and gun-related mortality?

Sorry, for the time being I have fallen in love with evidence-based politics & policy, statistics and economy, so this might not be the last post on this topic. I've caught the disease thanks to Nate Silver, Paul Krugman & friends, Freakonomics, et al.
Broadly speaking, the topic is relevant to this blog, which is about avoiding unnecessary death and suffering - even though biomedical research is certainly more crucial than gun laws. What good is healthy life-extension if you have been shot, right?

After the Newtown killings and post-Breivik, I would like to add to the discussion something above the evidence-free back and forth we often see in the media and elsewhere. In this case I have simply taken a very superficial look at the academic literature to see what the consensus on gun issues might be.

My working hypothesis is that societal dysfunction and lax gun regulation are both contributors to the composite endpoint of gun-related homicides, suicides and other crimes like armed robbery. No surprises here. But what are the individual contributions of each? I guess both matter although:
"There is, however, the possibility that accessibility alone does not produce more lethal violence. A society could, for example, have high firearm accessibility but due to a lack of structural deprivation its citizens simply do not use firearms either against each other or on themselves." (1)

And two weaker arguments against gun control:
"Another argument from the political debate over gun control is the argument that an equal distribution of firearms has a deterrent effect (Lott 2000). If everyone is similarly armed a thoughtful attacker will ‘‘think twice’... [but this] does [not] appear to hold empirically (Donohue 2003)...
Finally there is the argument that mere competence may reduce the lethality of weapons like firearms."
I'll let the researchers speak with all quotes from (1):