mindstalk: (Default)
Gun ownership vs. total homicide rate, by state and country. Some observations:
* high gun ownership is compatible with low homicide rate
* there's an empty quarter of low gun ownership and high homicide rate
* Many low-population states are low in homicides, but Alaska is high.
* This is still total guns, not handgun specific; it also throws in Switzerland, where yeah they have guns but the control regime is very different.
* Compared to the US all the other countries listed are low, but there's still a large multiple between Japan or Switzerland and Finland.
* The 'empty quarter' effect holds for those countries.

By the way, if you dip into current gun control debates, you may see people repeating an AEI talking point that "gun ownership has gone up but crime has gone down". This is "damn lies and statistics", as I'd expect from the AEI; the number of guns owned in the US has gone up a lot, but the number of people owning guns has gone down.

(Gallup disagrees with GSS and Pew in that, but it also disagrees with a claim of rising gun ownership. Their data also looks noisier.)

Pew also says that "protection" is now the top reason given for owning a gun. Given that crime rates have been going down, and that gun owners tend to be suburban or rural white men, not exactly high crime targets, this seems rather absurd.

The true cost of guns

2017-Oct-04, Wednesday 17:35
mindstalk: (Default)
2015 Mother Jones article: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/true-cost-of-gun-violence-in-america/

'Mother Jones crunched data from 2012 and found that the annual cost of gun violence in America exceeds $229 billion. Direct costs account for $8.6 billion—including long-term prison costs for people who commit assault and homicide using guns, which at $5.2 billion a year is the largest direct expense. Even before accounting for the more intangible costs of the violence, in other words, the average cost to taxpayers for a single gun homicide in America is nearly $400,000. And we pay for 32 of them every single day.

Indirect costs amount to at least $221 billion, about $169 billion of which comes from what researchers consider to be the impact on victims’ quality of life.'

By contrast, the gun industry is $13.5 billion/year.
If we estimated the positive utility of gun ownership at $1000/year for each of 100 million gun owners, that would be $100 billion... still a huge social cost.'

(Also, social cost of motor vehicle crashes is estimated at $871 billion.)

Gun industry revenues are a whopping $13.5 billion/year. https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/san-bernardino-shooting/americas-gun-business-numbers-n437566

Assuming 100 million gun owners, the utility to each of gun ownership would have to be $2300/year for society to be breaking even.
mindstalk: (thoughtful)
Well, this is interesting. It's often said that gun homicides have been going down, so gun violence is a decreasing problem. https://news.vice.com/article/gun-deaths-have-plummeted-in-the-us-but-that-doesnt-mean-theres-less-gun-violence?utm_source=vicefbus says gun violence has actually stalled; the fall in deaths is due to increasing medical care. I have a data source I check with ( http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates2001.html ); it only covers 2001-2013, but lets you zoom in on various factors -- and yes, it has non-fatal injury rates from gun assaults *increasing* over the period. Possibly modest increases in suicide and "legal intervention" injuries too, though it's hard to tell. Possibly a decrease in accidental deaths, or a decrease then increase, I didn't check every year.
mindstalk: (Default)
2014 was a record year for gun sales, at 8.57 million. Industry revenue isn't given, but revenue and sales for the two biggest makes is. Estimating $500/gun, guns sales would be under $4.5 billion. As pointed out in comments, total gun and ammo sales are $11.7 billion in 2012; $4.4 billion in exports is mentioned, unclear if that's part of the figure or in addition. Most of that is ammunition; you can easily shoot more than you spent on the gun, if you practice shooting.

This CDC page on tobacco also doesn't give industry revenue, but does say that the industry spent nearly $9 billion just on advertising and promotion. Okay, most of that is price discounts. We're also told 293 billion cigarettes were sold. At a pre-tax price of $5 per pack of 20 cigs, that's 25 cents per cig, or $73 billion, 16x larger than guns. Not counting cigars and other forms of tobacco.

US alcohol sales are $60 billion or $90 billion (wholesale vs. retail?) with $20 billion in liquor alone.

One estimate for illegal drugs is $60 billion; scaling up and converting a UK estimate gives $32-56 billion, and the US is richer than the UK.

And the NRA makes more than half its 2010 $228 million revenue from membership and educational fees.

There's a gun lobby, but it's not Big Gun like Big Tobacco or Big Oil. It's lots and lots of gun owners.

Also, dire predictions that banning guns would become a new Prohibition or War on Drugs seem kind of unfounded; the economic demand simply isn't there, plus no one is outright addicted to guns, and it's easy to cut back on ammo use.


2013-Mar-27, Wednesday 17:27
mindstalk: (Default)
I've been trying to reset my sleep schedule to something more in tune with society. So far I'm just massively jet lagged without the fun of having gone anywhere.

Snooze buttons are bad for you or at least can be, especially if you actually fall asleep you again; sleep has phases, and you can fall into a deeper phase than you were initially. This might also explain something I found during my orals prep: for two weeks my body refused to sleep more than 3 hours a night, and I was tired all the time, but trundled through my studied. The day of my exam I set my alarm, got woken up after three hours, and felt like nauseous crap. There's a difference between three hours because stupid body wakes up and three hours because alarm.

Another column on how teens naturally sleep at 11pm for 9 hours despite US insanity of having high schooler start earlier than elementary school.


NY Times takes on the Senate, the least democratic legislature in the developed world. 66:1 ratio in power between WY and CA. Why do the 500,000 people of Wyoming deserve more power (and federal money) than the 500,000 people of Fresno?


Cosmic ray bit flips a growing problem?

Cracked on gun myths or weird facts: gun ads are weird, there's no typical mass shooter, making suicide harder does work to reduce suicides, there's weird gun/god association, violence is down, guns get collected like expensive Barbie dolls, maybe all the gun porn and violent games reduce overall violence while increasing mass shootings. Maybe.


social mobility of food services, and contribution of liquor to urban vitality

Las Vegas female bartenders. Another profession gets sexualized and off-limited for the non-young.


Transit has big benefits. Even if a small %age of trips is via transit, those will be disproportionately trips that otherwise would have been on congested roads, so the benefit is larger than one might expect. I always said drivers should welcome transit subsidies as reducing the competition for road and parking...

Productivity minimum wage would be $22/hour. Inflation-linked would be over $10.50
mindstalk: (Default)
A liberal medical economist (I think) compares gun deaths to other, bigger, public health problems.

OTOH, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/sunday-review/more-guns-more-killing.html?smid=tw-share&_r=4&&pagewanted=all
comparing us to Guatemala may not be entirely helpful, but the article also makes claims for two cases where a strong legal change made a strong change in desired variables: Australia and Bogota. These seem closer to causal experiments than the usual correlation sifting.

And http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/ makes a lot of strong correlation claims, though I haven't read the sources.
mindstalk: (Default)
Prologue: my own position on guns continues to be mostly neutral and 'meh'. Well, nervous around actual guns. But I tend to react to arguments I see, and the current result of that is:

I've seen people ask why people need "military" weapons like the AR-15. Or semi-autos in general; in a more anti-gun phase myself, I'd proposed slashing handguns and semi-autos, leaving bolt-action rifles and such. But I've seen some spirited defenses.

There's a big class of people with hedonic reasons to favor the AR-15, which is veterans and reservists and Guardsmen and such. The AR-15 is the civilian (semi-auto) version of the M-16, and it makes sense to me that you'd want to continue using a gun like the one you trained on, or even continuing training on a gun similar to the one you'd use if called up. You know how to clean it, it feels and shoots similarly, etc.

Also, the AR-15/M-16 sound like good guns, in many ways. Highly modular, so in effect you have the option for many 'guns' by swapping in pieces. Designed for infantry, so lightweight and using light ammo, so easier to carry around -- even for hunting. Accurate despite its light weight, so good for target and varmint shooting. So, various features attractive even to legitimate civilians.

And despite what you might think at first, 'military' doesn't necessarily mean "all that great at killing people". Military tends to want lots of bullets in the air, to strafe crowds of troops or make them keep their heads down, which means being able to carry lots of ammo, which means light-weight bullets and low powder charges. There's apparently some debate about whether the M-16 has enough stopping power. If you really want to put someone down with one shot, get a large game hunting rifle with big cartridges...

Not that the AR-15 is *bad* at killing people, but it's 'military' aspects don't necessarily make it better, because the military also cares about "can our troops march with this all day". The most relevant aspect to (very rare) spree shootings would be the large magazines (and I'm told magazines can be swapped quickly anyway, and the really large -- 100 -- magazines often jam, which in fact happened to some of this year's shooters.) The most relevant aspect to everyday crime would be, uh, none? Which is why most US murders are done with handguns.

As for semi-automatics, I've read that they have less recoil than manual equivalents. I'm not sure why; some say heavier guns, or spreading the impulse over a longer time. I'd have guessed that it's because some of the energy and momentum is diverted into automatically ejecting the spent cartridge; it flies back instead of the gun. Anyway, this makes semi-autos more pleasant to fire, especially for the small or weak.

None of which is to say that guns are awesome and we should all have one, but it does mean I'm unsympathetic at the moment to "only crazy gun nuts would want military style rifles and semi-auto guns" statements that are so common among liberals.
mindstalk: (Default)
http://reason.com/archives/2012/12/22/gun-restrictions-have-always-bred-defian/print argues not. Or rather, that black markets in guns are thriving, and compliance with registration laws or bans is very very low -- even in Europe.
mindstalk: (atheist)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_School_disaster Deadliest US incident after 9/11 and Oklahoma City. 45 dead via bombs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akihabara_massacre 3 dead by car, 7 by knife.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osaka_school_massacre 8 schoolchildren killed by a knife.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_attack_on_the_Dutch_Royal_Family 8 dead by car.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isla_Vista_massacre 4 dead by car.
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2012/07/aurora_shooting_how_did_people_commit_mass_murder_before_automatic_weapons_.html mentions an case where 6 were killed and 15 wounded with a pair of knives. (The article has confused automatic and semi-automatic weapons, BTW. No automatics in Aurora, or any of the other shootings AFAIK.)

"Guns aren’t even the most lethal mass murder weapon. According to data compiled by Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, guns killed an average of 4.92 victims per mass murder in the United States during the 20th century, just edging out knives, blunt objects, and bare hands, which killed 4.52 people per incident. Fire killed 6.82 people per mass murder, while explosives far outpaced the other options at 20.82. Of the 25 deadliest mass murders in the 20th century, only 52 percent involved guns."

And of course http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarin_gas_attack_on_the_Tokyo_subway though with 10 people involved and only 13 deaths they underperformed by a lot, compared to 4-8 per culprit with knives or cars. 6000 injured though. A previous Aum sarin attack killed 8 and injured 144.

Elsewhere it's noted that mass killings tend to be well planned. Reducing the number of guns carried could plausibly reduce the number of shootings in the heat of the moment, but you'd have to eliminate guns to eliminate mass shootings; if guns are available at all then killers could get them. And you're not going to eliminate guns in a country that hasn't made all large non-human animals go extinct. And even if you did, mass killers could turn to other means. Killing 27 with just a car might be hard but most of the other shootings have been much smaller scale.

And US mass shooting deaths tend to total under one hundred per year, vs. the 11,000 murdered with guns in general, or the 35,000 killed in traffic accidents.

Note: I could actually be friendly to gun control! But mass shootings are a terrible justification for it. TSA-level terrible, as in harassing 100 million gun owners and likely not even saving any lives. The 8000 handgun murders every year would be much more apropos, though it's also true that the US non-gun homicide rate is higher than most rich countries' total homicide rate. (http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10_us.html gives 1.38/100,000 for non-gun. 1.0 or less is typical for peaceful countries' total homicide.)

Also, if you insist on talking about guns, it's helpful to remember they're not all equal. Handguns make up the vast majority of gun murders (and half of all murders) and even the majority of mass shootings, I think, though semi-auto "assault" rifles do play a bigger (but still overall tiny) role in those. Hunting rifles are almost pristine at the moment... though I suspect you could easily kill 4-8 with a bolt action rifle if you wanted. Let alone a shotgun.
mindstalk: (thoughtful)
CDC injury data: the US in 2009 saw 12,000 gun homicides, and 550 gun accident deaths, which I'll round up to 600. Also 18,000 gun suicides, which I'll ignore. (Though I wonder: are accidents all accidental deaths, or just accidentally shooting someone else, with shooting yourself by accident being a suicide? Ah, I see indication elsewhere of "self-inflicted" accidental deaths.)

Mercy cut )

ETA: Of course, guns cause injuries, not just deaths; that should have been factored in as well. Oops. Well, say there's 10x as many injuries. If they cause medical costs of $700,000, that basically doubles the 'budgets' or total social costs If they cause medical costs of $70,000 or less then they add 1% and are kind of irrelevant. I guess there's not just up front medical costs but permanent injuries like lost eyes or fingers. Hard to find recent sources, but late 1990s sources have non-lethal gun injuries as 4x the rate of lethal ones, ignoring suicide[1]. So they'd have to be 'worth' $3.5 million each to double the total cost of guns.

[1] About 80% of gun suicide attempts were fatal. 25% of attacks, and less than 10% of accidents.

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