Friday, November 9, 2012

Do Guns Make Us More or Less Safe?

I know this is unrelated to what I usually talk about on this blog, but I had a flash of curiosity last night and decided to take a look at gun policy. As someone who doesn't really have a strong opinion one way or the other, I feel like I'm more impartial than your everyday NRA or Brady Campaign advocate. So, in the interests of pseudo "science," I ran a crude regression comparing data on gun ownership rates in the 50 states vs rates of firearm deaths in each state to see what I'd find. Well, here are my results, take them as you will (click to enlarge):



As you all know, correlation doesn't imply causation, but I was curious so I ran the regression anyway. Any thoughts on this?

Sources here and here.

Update: I've re-run the regression using more up-to-date data, you'll find the new sources above. Ultimately, the results are pretty much identical, but I thought I'd be more careful with the data. In my second run-through, I tried to find out if Excel could label the data points for each state, but apparently the only way is to manually input the labels, which is just horribly time-consuming. In any case, I've uploaded my spreadsheet with all of the data, for those of you interested in each individual state's data. Also, if you hate Google's formatting of the file online, you can go to the top right of the screen after opening up the spreadsheet and hit File > Download to open it on your computer.