Well, I did this analysis about a year ago, but I hadn’t posted it because I knew that people would call me “RACIST!!” … but what I’m posting are simple facts. Plus at this point I’ve been falsely called a RACIST!! so many times it doesn’t even register any more.
Let me start with a much less contentious bit of analysis. This is the correlation between the rates of gun ownership and the gun murder rate. The short answer is … no relationship.
As you can see, gun ownership doesn’t correlate with gun crime. In Idaho about 58% of the households have guns … and yet the gun murder rate is less than that of Rhode Island where only about 7% of the households have guns. And North Dakota has about the same gun ownership rate as Louisiana, but in Louisiana the gun murder rate is twelve times as high as in North Dakota.
Now, there are some policy conclusions to be drawn from this total lack of correlation of numbers of guns and the gun murder rate. The main conclusion is this:
Reducing the number of guns will NOT reduce the number of gun murders.
My other conclusion comes from the fact that the District of Columbia, where about 28% of the homes have guns, has far and away the highest murder rate of any state, more than twice that of the next nearest state, Louisiana.
My conclusion from this is that if you have to live around politicians and put up with their unpleasant lunacy every day of the year, sooner or later you’re gonna want to shoot someone …
With that out of the way, let me move to the more controversial analysis. Finding that gun ownership didn’t predict gun murder rates, I gathered a long list of possible factors of all types that might affect gun murder rates. Here are the factors, with all the percentages expressed as a decimal from zero to one.
- Population Density
- % Gun Ownership
- % Religious Attendance
- % White
- % Black
- % Hispanic
- % Asian
- % American Indian Alaska Native
- % Two Or More Races
- % Population Over 18
- % High School Graduate
- % Bachelors Degree
- % Advanced Degree
- % Democrat
- % Urban
So given those variables, how can we determine which ones are important and which are not? One way is to use what is called the “Fast Frugal Tree” (“FFTree”) algorithm. This sets up a decision tree where each fork in the tree divides the outcome variable into two groups. Here’s an example of a simple decision tree:
That’s a regular decision tree. What the Fast Frugal Tree algorithm does is that it searches among all of the provided input variables to find the smallest number of variables that most correctly divide up the result variable. In my analysis, the output variable is whether the gun murder rate is MORE or LESS than the median of the murder rates of the individual states.
So with that as prologue, here is the result of the Fast Frugal Tree algorithm looking for explanatory variables for gun murder rates, choosing between all of the variables listed above.
So what does this Fast Frugal Tree (FFTree) decision tree mean?
We start at the top. Per the first box [below where it says “FFT #1], if the black population of a state is greater than 9%, the result is that there will be MORE gun murders. The algorithm puts 21 states in that category, of which 19 are correctly categorized as “Hits”, and 2 are incorrect (“False Alarm”)
From there, we move to the second fork in the decision tree. It says that if there are more than 88.4% high school graduates in a state, there will be LESS gun murders. This fork correctly identifies 20 states as having gun murder rates lower than the median.
The final fork of the decision tree looks at the white population of the states. If it is less than 66%, the algorithm correctly identifies 4 states as having MORE gun murders. And when the white population is more than 66%, it correctly identifies 5 states as having LESS gun murders, and it misses with one state.
Overall, the FFT algorithm correctly identifies 48 states, with two “False Alarms” (rated more gun murders, actually less) and one “Miss” (rated less, actually more).
What do I think about this result? First, to me, this FFTree says very little about race. To me, the division lines are all about culture and education. The racial aspect is just a marker for two very different cultures. Sadly, far too much of the inner-city black culture is all about having “street cred” and being “gangsta” … in other words a culture of violence.
It also has a lot to do with our antediluvian drug laws. Folks don’t seem to realize that we have only two choices:
- Junkies on the streets, or
- Junkies on the streets mugging grandma because junk is illegal.
We don’t have a choice called “No junkies on the streets.” In Singapore, they have draconian drug laws, and they hang people for dealing. Guess what? They still have junkies. We fought the drug war and we lost.
A huge amount of gun violence is a result of local drug turf wars. And sadly, for a host of cultural, historical, and legal reasons, much of that violence involves young black men killing other black people. I discussed here that we should follow Portugal and legalize all drugs.
I would suggest that another important cultural variable has to do with the destruction of the black family by our idiotic welfare system. Back in the time of LBJ, people thought it would be a good idea to support single mothers … what’s not to like? Don’t single moms deserve support?
Unfortunately, if you pay families to not have a man in the house, the result is quite predictable—we’ll see more and more single mothers. At present, the Census Bureau says that 74.3 percent of all White children below the age of 18 live with both parents, but only 38.7 percent of African-American minors can say the same.
I would say that all of these cultural factors have combined to give us the result of that first Fast Frugal Tree.
Finally, what happens when we remove all the racial information from the input variables and repeat the FFTree analysis? Here’s that result:
Given that having a high-school education appeared in the first FFTree, it’s no surprise that the first fork in this tree is the number of high school graduates. States with more than about 90% high school graduates have fewer gun murders. 20 correct, 1 wrong.
The second fork was a surprise to me … if more than about a third of the people regularly attend religious services, the state has MORE gun murders, not less. After some consideration and research, I think that the answer to the conundrum is that most of those states are in the South and Southeast, where both religion and the gun culture are strong, and where people often tend to settle disputes in … well … a less than tranquil fashion. 14 right, two wrong.
Finally, state population—less populated states have a lower rate of gun murders. 3 right, 2 wrong. More populated states have a higher gun murder rate. 7 right, 2 wrong.
Overall, this is less accurate than the previous analysis. That analysis had only three states miscategorized. This one is more than twice as bad, with seven states miscategorized.
So … what does all of this mean regarding trying to reduce the number of people killed by guns? Several conclusions:
• Reducing the number of guns will do little to reduce the gun murder rate.
• Getting a high school education is crucial.
• Our welfare and drug laws badly need overhauling.
• It will be a long, slow process because the problem is cultural, and changing cultures is a very gradual process.
That’s what the facts show. Me, I think it has to do with culture rather than race, but if you want to call me “RACIST!!”, well, all I can do is laugh at such foolishness.
My warmest regards to everyone, black, white, or any other color. For me, the only color that matters is red.
Why red? Because if you bleed any other color, I get nervous real fast …
ANALYSIS NOTES: I’ve put a copy of the data I used here so people can do their own analysis if they wish.
For doing the actual analysis, I used the R computer package FFTrees.