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Friday, June 19, 2015

President Obama---and Statistics---On Guns in America

Seen yesterday:

"I've had to make statements like this too many times," Obama said. "Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times. We don't have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.

"Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let's be clear, at some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries."

For proof?

Gun crime is more prevalent in the US than in other rich countries

In 2012, Max Fisher compared gun homicide rates in wealthy countries, using UN data. The US was far ahead of the non-Mexico members of the OECD, with only Chile anywhere close:

A big part of this is that the US just has many more guns per capita than any other country:

firearm ownership

That doesn't explain all the variation in homicide rates; lots of poor countries, particularly in Central America, have gun homicide rates many times that of the United States. But among developed countries, homicide is much, much higher in the US, even after the great crime drop of the 1990s, and even including non-gun methods, as this chart from Duke sociologist Kieran Healy illustrates:

healy assault gun

The President is right, of course. So many statistics show and prove it, again and again, in so many ways.

It would be nice if finally, finally, this horrific incident out of Charleston, North Carolina brought us to the point where we do a few simple, intelligent things about guns. Things like requiring background checks for mental stability and criminal history for ALL weapons purchases in this nation.

Hey, we can hope.

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