“As a country, we have been through this too many times”: The Numbers.

Via Sam Wang:

From 1994 to 2004, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was in place (CRS report here). Here is that period, shown on a graph of people killed or wounded in mass shootings since 1982.

The data came from an extensive tabulation by Mark Follman at Mother Jones. Except for 1999, a year of five shootings (including the Columbine massacre), the assault ban period was peaceful by US standards:

Years Shootings Per year People shot/year
1982-1994 19 1.5 25.5
1995-2004 16 1.6 20.9
2005-2012 27 3.4* 54.8*

*p<0.05 compared with 1995-2004.
Since the expiration of the gun ban in 2004, the number of shootings per year has doubled, and the number of victims per year has nearly tripled [emph. mine]. Three of the bloodiest four years shown here occurred since the expiration.

The time for tears is over; the time for action is beyond overdue.

Update: CNN:

The White House said President Barack Obama supports reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons — a position he took in the 2008 campaign but failed to press during his first term.

“It does remain a commitment of his,” presidential spokesman Jay Carney told reporters as the nation reeled from a mass shooting in Connecticut that mainly killed school children.

[…]

Obama supported a platform while running for president in 2008 that included reinstating the assault weapons ban, but has largely avoided the issue of gun control during his first term.

He wrote an opinion piece two months after the Giffords shooting acknowledging the importance of the Second Amendment right to bear arms and called for a “focus” on “effective steps that will actually keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.”

Obama said at a presidential debate in October that he wanted a “broader conversation” in general about reducing gun violence.

“Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced,” he said.

A little less conversation and a little more action.

Update 2: ICYMI — more numbers, courtesy Richard Florida (h/t).

Update 3: Excerpting Florida:

It is commonly assumed that mental illness or stress levels trigger gun violence. But that’s not borne out at the state level. We found no statistical association between gun deaths and mental illness or stress levels. We also found no association between gun violence and the proportion of neurotic personalities.

Images of drug-crazed gunmen are a commonplace: Guns and drug abuse are presumed to go together. But, again, that was not the case in our state-level analysis. We found no association between illegal drug use and death from gun violence at the state level.

Some might think gun violence would be higher in states with higher levels of unemployment and higher levels of inequality. But, again, we found no evidence of any such association with either of these variables.

So what are the factors that are associated with firearm deaths at the state level?

Poverty is one. The correlation between death by gun and poverty at the state level is .59.

An economy dominated by working class jobs is another. Having a high percentage of working class jobs is closely associated with firearm deaths (.55).

And, not surprisingly, firearm-related deaths are positively correlated with the rates of high school students that carry weapons on school property (.54).

What about politics? It’s hard to quantify political rhetoric, but we can distinguish blue from red states. Taking the voting patterns from the 2008 presidential election, we found a striking pattern: Firearm-related deaths were positively associated with states that voted for McCain (.66) and negatively associated with states that voted for Obama (-.66). Though this association is likely to infuriate many people, the statistics are unmistakable. Partisan affiliations alone cannot explain them; most likely they stem from two broader, underlying factors – the economic and employment makeup of the states and their policies toward guns and gun ownership.

1 comment to “As a country, we have been through this too many times”: The Numbers.

  • JustPlainDave

    Now this is useful. Thanks Matt.

    The Florida piece in particular seems to me to indicate just how massive the scale of the undertaking is. This is a political, economic, consumer block that’s all densely interconnected along exactly this dimension. Finding cleavage points is going to be very, very difficult.

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