It’s the guns!!

Over at Slate, Chris Kirk had a post erroneously headlined, “The U.S. Is Far More Violent Than Other Rich Countries.”  It then shows a graph of “assault death” rate compared to other OECD countries.  Of course, the US is a huge outlier.   Kirk asks (rhetorically, presumably) at the end of his post:

What, then, explains the U.S.’s violence? Is it that we are crazier than Japan? Is it that we just like killing each other more than Australians? Could it possibly be that we have more guns per person than any of these countries?

But, the thing is the US is not far more violent!  We’re simply far more lethal.   And that is easy.  Guns.

Of course, this reminded me of one of my own favorite posts from a few years ago, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. With guns.”  That post shows that the US is entirely ordinary in “violent crime” rate, but a huge outlier in the homicide rate.  What frustrates me though, it the data is from 2000 and I’ve never been able to find more up-to-date comparative violent crime statistics.  Then it hit me, the problem was likely searching for “violent crime” rate.  Indeed it was.

I found this nice Civitas (UK) report with 2011 data that has rates of assault, rape, burglary, etc.  And the point from these charts is really clear.  First homicide rate:


Mexico blowing up the scale, makes the US not look so bad, but our rate is 2-4x that of most other advanced democracies.  Take Mexico out of this graph, and the US is a clear outlier.

But here’s the thing, in other violent crimes, we’re nothing special.

assault  rape

We’re in fact utterly ordinary in assault (just below the mean, in fact!) and towards the higher end in rape, but not at all an outlier as we are in homicide.

So, to be clear, the United States is not a particularly violent society.  We are a particularly lethal society.  And there is one breathtakingly obvious explanation (and really no good alternatives) for why the US is a much more lethal society– the ready availability of guns.

Photo of the day

Love this photo of Hurricane Joaquin taken from the ISS (and found at the Wunderground weather blog on 1000 years(!) rains in SC:

Figure 1. Lightning flashes in one of Hurricane Joaquin’s spiral bands in this nighttime image taken in the early morning hours of October 2, 2015 from the International Space Station. The lights of Miami are visible in the upper left. Image credit: Commander Scott Kelly, ISS.

Supply Side Jesus

Actually caught this on HBO last night.  Bill Maher on the Republican Jesus.  So good.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Nice Amy Davidson piece on Carly Fiorina.

2) Chait points out that the US Republican party is about the only major political party within advanced Democracies that denies climate change.  They are really out on a limb by themselves.

3) I knew that the placebo week of birth control pills is what gives women on the pill their period, but as one of my correspondents was blown away by this fact, thought I’d share this interesting Atlantic piece on the psychology of forgoing periods (as is the case with many LARC’s).

4) I don’t know why I’ve put off for so long this great Australian comic takes on the insanity of Americans and guns video, but I finally watched.  Overdue.  This is great.

5) Actually something from this week before the latest massacre: a family who tried to sue the suppliers of the Aurora, Colorado shooter (no name here) and got stuck with the gun and ammo manufacturers legal bills to show for it:

The judge dismissed our case because, he said, these online sellers had special immunity from the general duty to use reasonable care under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and a Colorado immunity law. If you couple the PLCAA law with Colorado’s law HB 000-208, (which says in essence: If you bring a civil case against a gun or ammunition seller and the case is dismissed then the plaintiff must pay all the defendant’s costs), you have an impenetrable barrier to using the judicial system to effect change in gun legislation in Colorado.

Everyone else in society has a duty to use reasonable care to not injure others — except gun and ammunition sellers. [emphasis mine]

6) This is really cool.  Research at NCSU suggests we may be able to use fingerprints to know a person’s ethnicity.

7) Really looking forward to using Anne-Marie Slaughter’s book on women, men, and the workplace next time I teach Gender & Politics (if I had known it was coming out, I would’ve assigned it this semester).  Great interview on the Freakonomics podcast.

8) Loved this Nicholas Davidoff piece on the carefully orchestrated illusion that is football on TV.

9) I’ve been meaning to do a post working off of a Seth Masket piece on authenticity and presidential elections.  But Julia Azari has already done a better one that I would.

10) When I first heard about the Pope and Kim Davis, I was thinking I bet some conservative American bishop made this happen.  Looks like that’s the case.  Drum:

As usual with the Catholic Church, previous popes continue to have long arms even after they die or retire. It turns out that the papal nuncio, a culturally conservative guy who’s loyal to the former Benedict XVI, decided to invite Davis. The current pope apparently had no idea this would happen and may not have even known who she was. Basically, Davis was ushered in for her 60 seconds with the pope, who blessed her, gave her a rosary, and then moved along to the next person in line. It would be wise not to read too much into this.

11) Jeb Bush said something stupid yesterday (“stuff happens” to refer to mass murder).  When he said something was “retarded” he used the word perfectly correctly.  Is there really no place to use this word at all according to it’s original meaning?  If so, that’s stupid.

12) I almost never listen to “On the Media” (just too many good podcasts out there), but I was driving with NPR on the other day and really enjoyed the feisty exchange described here over whether AP is doing a disservice by moving from “climate skeptic” to “climate doubter.”

13) Loved this Richard Skinner piece for Brookings on Trump supporters.  It’s titled “do hate and racism drive Donald Trump supporters?”  You’ll just have to read it to find out :-).

14) Seth Masket on governing by sacrifice (in this case, Boehner).

15) I so love “The Princess Bride.”  I literally know more of the dialog of that movie than any other movie.  Thus, I loved this Buzzfeed list on why it is such an “important” movie.

16) Will Saletan on the incoherence of Republicans’ arguments against Planned Parenthood.

Throughout the hearing, Republicans complained that Planned Parenthood gets too much of its revenue from the federal government. Several members of the committee—Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, and John Mica of Florida—protested that taxpayers were supplying more than 40 percent of Planned Parenthood’s income. Duncan fumed that the Boys and Girls Club gets only a fraction of what Planned Parenthood receives. Mica explained the GOP’s underlying beef: Many Americans, including some who are pro-choice, don’t want their tax money used for abortions.

As an argument for defunding Planned Parenthood, this complaint makes no sense. Richards explained to the committee that under U.S. law, federal funds can’t be used for abortions unless the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or was caused by rape or incest. So if Planned Parenthood is getting a high percentage of its income from the government, that means much of the work it’s being paid for isn’t abortion.

17) Really nice piece in Slate on wrongfully convicted exonerees and restorative justice.


%d bloggers like this: