Data show gun control doesn’t reduce US violent crime
By James Meagher
Certain that yet another round of gun control laws are needed to reduce violent crime in the U.S., activists have forgotten two fundamental issues. The first is that people who murder, rape, rob, or assault pay little attention to our laws. Perpetrators of violent crime will not be stopped by anything but an opposing force. The second issue is that gun control laws have never been shown to be effective. Gun control advocates are adamant that the pages and pages of anti-2nd Amendment legislation are effective and the country needs more. No proof is needed; they just know it. The reality is that impartial data show that these activists are completely wrong.
While those passionately supportive of gun control have convinced the gullible that severe restrictions on firearms will eliminate violent crime in the U.S., this is just not true. As we have been urged to do during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must examine the data, follow the science, and do the math on gun control and violent crime. To accomplish this, consider the most recent full year of data from the FBI publication “Crime in the US, 2019” and a legal expert’s rating on the relative severity of gun control in each state from the Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States. Data from these sources is graphed for each state and presented in Figure 1. The blue dots indicate the crime rate per 100,000 state residents. The higher the blue dot is on the graph, the greater the violent crime rate for that state. Crime rate values are displayed on the right-hand vertical axis. The relative firearm freedom in each state is indicated with a red bar. A short red bar indicates that a state has very restrictive firearm laws. A tall red bar indicates a relatively high acceptance of residents’ 2nd Amendment rights. The relative firearm freedom rating, from 0 for total prohibition to 100 for total freedom, is displayed on the left-hand vertical axis.
With the states arranged in order of decreasing violent crime rate from left to right, all it takes is a glance at the figure, and it is obvious that there is no discernible relationship between the two data sets. This means that there is no link between the rate of violent crime in a state and a state’s firearm freedom. The only valid conclusion is that gun control does not have a predictable outcome regarding violent crime.
Is it any wonder that the volumes of state and federal gun control legislation do not have much impact on our violent crime rates? Yet year after year, our legislators add more gun control laws to the books, expecting different results each time.
The facts prove conclusively that gun control laws cannot reliably reduce the violent crime rate in our country. Is there anything that might be effective? Possibly. Consider the next figure. In Figure 2, the FBI data for violent crime are shown again. The blue dots indicate the crime rate per 100,000 state residents. The higher the blue dot is on the graph, the greater the violent crime rate for that state. For the same year, the U.S. Census Bureau’s data for poverty in the states has been added as red triangles. The higher the red triangle is on the graph, the greater the poverty rate for that state. Values for the percentage of state residents in poverty are displayed on the left-hand vertical axis.
Just a glance at Figure 2 reveals that there is a recognizable trend for poverty and violent crime. States with lower poverty rates generally have lower rates of violent crime. Upon seeing this correlation, it is logical to conclude that anyone genuinely interested in reducing violent crime needs to be fighting poverty.
We can make progress as a nation only when we examine unbiased information and are able to think logically. Unsupported opinions, willful ignorance of the facts, and emotional objections to the truth are dangerous obstacles to reducing violent crime in our country. Deliberately promoting the myth that stricter firearm laws will reduce violent crime serves only to steer us away from real solutions.