More Gun Owners, More Gun Murder New Massive Study Reports

More Gun Owners, More Gun Murder New Massive Study Reports

A brand new massive peer-reviewed study, released yesterday, reports that the greater the number of gun owners in the United States, the higher the gun murder rate goes. The study authors have concluded that more gun owners correlates to more gun murder and suicide. The study has been published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Public Health and study authors say it is the largest of its kind ever performed. Particularly significant are the extensive controls the study researchers used; a greater number of controls than previously used in any other gun study.

The areas of control were:

Age, gender, race/ethnicity, urbanization, poverty, unemployment, income, education, income inequality, divorce rate, alcohol use, violent crime rate, nonviolent crime rate, hate crime rate, number of hunting licenses, age-adjusted nonfirearm homicide rate, incarceration rate, and suicide rate.

Researchers focused on 29 years of gun ownership across the entire United States to examine the data. This time period is the longest amount of time ever examined for a study on guns, the study authors say. The time period included in the study was 1981-2010.

The study authors found that increases in gun ownership equated with an almost equal increase in gun murders. “For each 1 percentage point increase in proportion of household gun ownership,” they wrote, “firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9″ percent.

Using Mississippi as an example when looking at the suicide and murder rate increase as it pertains to gun ownership, they explained: “All other factors being equal, our model would predict that if the FS/S in Mississippi were 57.7% (the average for all states) instead of 76.8% (the highest of all states), its firearm homicide rate would be 17% lower.”

This correlation between more gun owners and more gun murders and suicides does not indicate a direct causal relationship. Rather, study researchers described the results of the massive study a “robust correlation.” Said the researchers: “Although we could not determine causation, we found that states with higher levels of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.”

This new massive study contradicts some earlier research on gun control. For example, in 2007, a study out of Harvard University found that there was no correlation between gun control and a reduction in homicides. That paper, entitled “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?” found that a link between an increased number of guns and an increased number of violent crimes did not exist. They said that the idea that more guns equal more crime was “substantially false.”

For the Harvard study, the researchers examined countries all around the world, not just in the United States. They found that more guns resulted in fewer murders, explaining:

If more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death, areas within nations with higher gun ownership should in general have more murders than those with less gun ownership in a similar area. But, in fact, the reverse pattern prevails.

Studies on guns and homicide/suicide, while plentiful, offer decidedly mixed results. Some studies which are widely cited as finding no link between guns and murders have been performed by members of gun clubs or the National Rifle Association. This leads many to question the amount of bias that exists in such studies.

However, the same could be said for studies which support the idea of fewer guns leading to fewer murders. Often, the study authors’ motivations are called into question. One thing on which everyone can rely is that the raging debate over gun control in the United States will continue. Whether this new massive study that reports more gun owners equals more gun murders will change the conversation is anybody’s guess.

By: Rebecca Savastio

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23 Responses to "More Gun Owners, More Gun Murder New Massive Study Reports"

  1. Patrick McGoffin   September 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Great study. So sad it is wrong. Even worse everyone knows it.

  2. noordijk   September 18, 2013 at 9:59 am

    More firearms, doesn’t not mean more households with firearms. A nut, drunk or angry spouse can only shoot a maximum of two guns at a time, so while my brother-in-law may have an arsenal, if he finally snaps, he’ll only be able to kill his neighbors with one or two guns at a time. So while his neighborhood may have a huge number of guns, even though he is the only person with them.

    On the other hand, an neighborhood in which everybody has a pistol or two, has more people who can use their guns.

    That is way it is more relevant to look at households with guns, and not numbers of guns.

  3. Corey   September 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    WHOA WHOA WHOA Ms. Savastio. The study said “we could not determine causation…” Do you know what that means? It means you’re ERRONEOUSLY using the term “murder” when you should be using the term “homicide”. Murder means the intentional and illegal killing of another human. Homicide means someone died. If you can’t get your terminology straight, don’t write the article!

    • Stats   September 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      Causation is a statistical term. It means that there is a correlation between the variables (here, the independent variable is gun ownership, and the dependent variable is number of deaths). The author is correctly acknowledging that in many scientific studies, scientists can identify correlations between variables, but can’t necessarily infer that on causes the other without further study. She is not implying anything about the cause of murder, but the cause of one variable driving patterns in the other.

  4. J Norman   September 14, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Thats funny, Obama funded the CDC to conduct an almost year long study on this. What did the CDC find? The CDC found that MORE LEGAL guns, equals LESS gun murder and LESS gun crime. Oh yea, as well as the FBI. Anti-gun libs will do, say, and preach any and every lie to try and SEEM credible…..

  5. Kerry   September 13, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Of course we all know, that statistics can say anything you want them to say!!

    When I worked for a locale sheriff’s office, I was ordered to fins numbers and “statistics” on what-not, well when I found them it didn’t really show a big deal. But by changing the criteria, from say numbers to a percent, the “percent” showed a much bigger difference, or at least is SOUNDED like a big difference, so of course, the Chief went with the percentage because it made his pitch for more $$$$$ for the budget seem more credible!!!

    Back to studies, as in, did the increase of guns indicate an increase of violent crime – study = NO. But in this study, by including suicide, accidents and what-not, “why, oh my, how can this be?”, it DID go up.

    If one were to adjust the criteria, the study would obviously give you a different outcome. It’s not surprising to me that who ever did the study wanted to show an INCREASE in the murder rate, whereas in previous studies more guns actually shows LESS VIOLENT CRIME.

    One would have to STUDY the criteria to see if it was flawed or even if it had any real correlation to what they wanted to show, and after that, THEN you could publish the outcome and I “MIGHT” believe it.

  6. James Pleasant   September 13, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I don’t see any true contradiction between this study and the Harvard study mentioned in the article. More firearms will, of course, correlate to more firearms related deaths. It will also, however, correlate to fewer homicides and violent crimes overall. Greater availability of firearms will increase the likelihood of their use in violent crime; however, the increased possibility that the potential victim of the violent crime will have a firearm to defend himself/herself will cause a reduction in the willingness of many criminals to confront those potential victims directly. The fact that one study showed an increase in the number of firearm-related homicides with an increase in firearm ownership does not, therefore, contradict the fact that the other study showed a decrease in the overall murder/violent crime rate correlating to an increase in firearm ownership.

  7. Robert D Marshner   September 13, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    You can get anyone to do a study and make up any kind of findings I just want to know how they explain the FBI’s findings that violent crimes are down 39% from what it was 20 years ago or the FBI’s own findings that guns aren’t used to murder that offten the highest rate of murder is with hands and feet then comes blunt force then knives then hand guns and way at the bottom of the list is Rifles I think this report is a fantasy made up by the author to get published and has no bases in reality

  8. Ken Soderstrom   September 13, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Canada has more snowmobile death than Mexico. My point: It is misleading to separate “gun murder” from all the other kinds of murder.

    If guns are common and murder is 4/100K almost all with guns, is that worse than places with gun bans that have 8/100K murder but only 3/100K with guns?

    Dishonest parsing of “gun crime” is not something that a serious researcher genuinely interested in social problems would engage in. The fact this was done is clear indication of bias on the part of the “researchers” involved.

  9. MzDiana   September 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Illinois has very strict gun laws, so please explain the murder rates there! Typical statistics to meet someone’s agenda!

    • Gatorgrad   September 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Well, if laws vary from city to city (ie Chicago has tight restrictions), thugs will just buy guns in surrounding cities that have looser restrictions. So, what we need are strong FEDERAL laws so people can’t just hope city to city or state to state.

  10. billy   September 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    another study just said gun ownership rates by household were down over 10% since 1990….. who do we believe? it is so easy to manipulate studies like this. i just saw an add for a tv show that is supposed to be number one in its genre, it noted the poll group was 24-25 year olds and 32-35 year olds. they pick the best groups.

  11. Tom   September 13, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    First, how was the number of gun owners measured? It is notoriously difficult to measure/estimate this in the U.S. since there are no records kept. Various proxies are typically measured and used to estimate gun ownership levels, but the relationship between the proxies and gun ownership levels is not known.

    Second, are they looking at the correlation of gun ownership with gun death (i.e., homicides and suicides with guns) or with total deaths? This is important since in the case of violent crime, like homicide, the gun is used both to commit the crime and deter/defend against it. In the case of suicide, people have been found to substitute other means when guns are not available. So the real quantities of interest are overall homicide (or violent crime) rates and total suicide rates.

    It sounds like the new study is only looking at homicide and suicide using guns, which is not a particularly useful metric. Imagine that gun homicides decreased to zero but overall homicides quadrupled…would you consider that an improvement? The earlier study from Harvard seems to have studied overall homicide and suicide rates, which is much more relevant. I think this explains the apparent contradiction, but I’ll have to explore the links to the studies.

    • Daniel Silverman   September 13, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      Ok Rebecca got her first reference off of think progress. not very neutral.
      Next up I don’t see where the peer reviews are, so I will need to dig more.
      I did track down the actual study which was by a professor, not a practitioning doctor.
      I am also trying to figure out like Tom said what is gun ownership? considering such as Chicago, almost all the guns used in crime are illegally obtained, how does this mean gun ownership? they didn’t go to a store, or have a FOID card, or register their firearm per Chicago law.
      Also if you have more cars on the road well guess what chance are you will have more auto related deaths. Point is, we need to understand were these homicides justifiable, or just labeled homicide. Many initially reported “gun deaths” are reported as homicide as they are investigated, then deemed justifiable, i.e. self defense.
      I also saw many references to studies which seem irrelevant to the actual study.

  12. jim   September 13, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    so nothing about crime just suicide
    wonder about the suicide rate for not using a gun in the same areas
    the gun didn’t cause the suicide so what did ?

  13. Blutwulf   September 13, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Very well written article and you tried to stay neutral. Thank you.
    The Study however was obviously an attempt to push an anti-gun agenda. Some of those study controls should not have been in there, as they do not reflect LEGAL Gun Ownership, but illegally obtained guns used for nefarious purposes. That increases the percentage of deaths exponentially, which of course was their desired result.

  14. Daniel Silverman   September 13, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Ok so the study is peer reviewed as are most studies. Check!
    So the review looked at gun homicide and suicide. I think they need to remove suicide from the mix as the study released from the Australia Melbourne Institute clearly shows that suicide is unaffected by gun ownership. The UK suicide rates based off of numbers from the home office also have not seen any major drop. People simply use different methods. Including that number does little other than pad the numbers.
    Also while this is a long term study, how is it that based of the FBI UCR we see a 40 year low for violent crime, which includes homicides by all methods and a 39 year low in teen gun homicide rates.
    The unified crime reports are designed to provide unfiltered data regarding crime in this country. To that end homicides and violent crime seem to be greater in states with more gun control. That is simple by filtering per capita data be state.
    We also have population growth as well, so certain states or urban areas have seen increased growth while other areas have declined.
    One also would need to filter based on population trends and also type of homicide. By this I mean that was this a domestic dispute, gang related, etc. Crime tends to be higher in urban, low income areas. Just because it was a gun crime does not mean that the gun used was legally obtained either. Illegally obtained guns tend to make up most of the vast majority of firearms used in crime. We know that only a tiny fraction 0.0003% or less of legally obtained firearms are actually used in a crime.
    Also was the “gun death” a defensive gun use? I did not see anything pertaining to this at all.
    We have seen gun purchases double in the last five years based on a year by year rate. More people than ever are making the choice to arm themselves for what ever reason, although amongst young people that vast majority are doing it for self defense, not hunting or sport shooting.
    One example i can site is Mexico. over 100,000 dead due to guns, yet gun ownership banned in Mexico. so how does one explain this? Sure they have a gang problem, but then again so does the US. We know as an example that 90% of all homicides in Oakland California are gang related. Of the homicides those that were gun deaths were carried out with illegal guns. California has universal background checks. We have everything that the Federal government wanted, or wants, yet this has not changed the issues we are seeing in the state.

    • MzDiana   September 13, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      I live in California and I agree with the others on here. We’ve got strong gun laws here, its not the law abiding citizens committing crimes with guns, its the criminals who shouldn’t have a right to own a gun. Seems like the facts were skewed in this study to fit the needs of ones agenda! Then again you do a study in one of the poorest States of the fifty! Need more facts /statistics to be more accurate.

  15. Richard Vryheid   September 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Social studies of any nature can be skewed to whatever the desired outcome. Just like accounting. Just use the FBI statistics and be satisfied it shows reports from reliable sources. Then again, there are hidden agendas everywhere 😀

  16. MattM   September 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    “states with higher levels of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.”
    Seriously?! So states like Nevada and Arizona have higher firearms related homicides than Illinois?!
    Oh and the recent CDC report that WAS MANDATED BY OBAMA, and found no such correlation means that the CDC is owned by the NRA?!
    I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that you have referenced the Harvard study and then later state that reports that find more guns=less crime are performed by the NRA.
    So in addition to the CDC, now Harvard is run and administered by the NRA?!
    Point is that there are enough reports BY NEUTRAL AND UNBIASED SOURCES that state just the opposite of this recent report.
    I only put credence in reports that come from unbiased and authoritative sources.

  17. Dawn Appelberg   September 13, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    While the article is definitely well written and the conclusion appears on the money, there is one major thing missing. Where is the correlative murder/suicide rate when there is an enforcement of gun control in places such as Chicago? If there was indeed unbiased research done, the control group would also have to include research in places where gun control have been utilized.

  18. charles disney   September 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    this should make Illinois one of the safest states and Wyoming one of the most dangerous right?


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