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Owner: mshelly33702
Created: Aug 30, 2010
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Association Between Firearm Deathrate and Percent of Households with a Gun (by State)
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Introduction

This study was motivated by a recent controversy related to the 2010 "Arts, Beats and Eats Festival" in Royal Oak, Michigan. The festival routinely prohibited exposed firearm possession ("open-carry") until supporters of open-carry challenged this position. Organizers of the festival, in response to current interpretation of the Constitution, relented. Openly-carried firearms are now permitted at the festival, though some opponents of the decision plan to boycott the event.

Using datasets from StateMaster.com and the North Carolina Center for Health Statistics, this composite shows, by state, (1) the percent of survey respondents* who indicated that there is a firearm in the home [http://www.schs.state.nc.us/SCHS/brfss/2001/us/firearm3.html] and (2) the number of deaths by firearms per 100,000 population (most recent) [http://www.statemaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir-death-rate-per-100-000].

Data set 1. Guns Ownership and Deaths by Firearms by State   [Info]
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A scatterplot of deaths per 100,000 residents vs. percent of residents with a firearm in/around the home suggests an association between these two attributes. The relationship appears plausibly linear.

Result 1: Firearm Deaths per 100,000 by Percent Gun Ownership   [Info]
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Analysis

I conducted a simple linear regression t-test to determine the strength of the association. The null hypothesis was, "There is no linear association between firearm deaths and access to firearms." The correlation coefficient for this relationship is r = 0.628.

Result 3: Correlation Gun-Availability and Gun-Deaths   [Info]
Correlation between DeathsPer100K and PctGuns is:
0.6279379 (<0.0001)

The slope of the regression line (0.206 deaths per percent gun access) was highly significant (t = 5.59), so the null hypothesis was rejected in favor of the alternative ("There is a positive linear association between firearm deaths and access to firearms.")

Result 2: Simple Linear Regression: Firearm Deaths vs Percent Gun Ownership   [Info]
Simple linear regression results:
Dependent Variable: DeathsPer100K
Independent Variable: PctGuns
DeathsPer100K = 3.3462987 + 0.20599473 PctGuns
Sample size: 50
R (correlation coefficient) = 0.6279
R-sq = 0.394306
Estimate of error standard deviation: 3.4235296

Parameter estimates:
Parameter Estimate Std. Err. Alternative DF T-Stat P-Value
Intercept 3.3462987 1.4694785 ≠ 0 48 2.2772017 0.0273
Slope 0.20599473 0.036850672 > 0 48 5.5899854 <0.0001


Analysis of variance table for regression model:
Source DF SS MS F-stat P-value
Model 1 366.24316 366.24316 31.247938 <0.0001
Error 48 562.5866 11.720555
Total 49 928.8298

Conclusions

This study shows that a positive association exists between gun ownership and deaths due to firearms. It does not suggest a cause-and-effect relationship, nor does it suggest that higher crime rates correspond to higher gun ownership. The data very clearly suggest, however, that death by firearm is more frequent in states where a greater number of residents have access to those weapons.

A valuable follow-up to this study would be to consider the relationship between violent death (all causes) and access to firearms. Is "death by firearm" more likely while, at the same time, say, "death by knife" less likely in states with high gun access? Stated another way, are there more violent deaths in states with high gun access, or does gun ownership simply shift the balance in the way that violent deaths occur?

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*In 2001 the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in North Carolina surveyed 201,881 respondents nationwide, asking them, "Are any firearms now kept in or around your home? Include those kept in a garage, outdoor storage area, car, truck, or other motor vehicle."

 

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