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Dec 17

Gun ownership vs murder rate by country

In the discussions following the recent Newtown shooting, several people have told me that data regarding gun ownership and violence supports the case for more restrictive gun prohibition. I believe that the above plots, on their face, discredit this view.

If all countries are included in the plot, there is a negative correlation between gun ownership and rate of homicide. Only when the plot is limited to OECD countries (with the outliers of US and Mexico included), does a very small positive correlation appear.


Because of the many uncontrolled variables involved in comparisons between countries, I don’t believe such statistics can help the case for or against gun control. I’m posting them here to counter the claims by advocates of increased governmental gun control that the statistics legitimise their preference.

The plots above use data from the following sources:

List of countries by intentional homicide rate
Number of guns per capita by country

Thanks To

Mark Reid lately posted some gun control related plots and helpfully included instructions on how to recreate them using the statistics program R.

Diego Basch adapted the plots to compare intentional homicides against gun ownership.

Regarding the question of gun control, intentional homicides is a more relevant figure to look at than rates of gun-related deaths. This is because if an attacker expects that a victim may have a gun, they’ll be less likely to attempt any kind of attack.

For this post I recreated Diego’s plots by feeding R the same data sets, and getting it to draw regression lines for ease of reading.

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    all those unfired weapons…
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    If people were not using guns, they would be using knives or hammers.
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    “Because of the many uncontrolled variables involved in comparisons between countries, I don’t believe such statistics...
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