Are gun owners more violent?

  • #26
negitron
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I kinda figured that. :wink:
 
  • #27
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In fact, Maine is probably one of the most heavily-armed states in the union - mostly because of the hunting traditions. Lots of guns around here wouldn't be counted in polls, and guns aren't required to be registered here, so statistics on gun-ownership here should be taken with a grain of salt.
Just for the record, here are the statistics we should take with a grain of salt. As you say, these are from a poll and are highly suspicious.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/health/interactives/guns/ownership.html" [Broken]
I took the liberty of sorting the table by ownership and found Maine to be 24th among the 50 states making it one of the most heavily-armed, as you say. Pass the salt though. I see my beloved NJ as 49th out of 50 which also makes it one of the most heavily-armed, but just by a hair. At 50th, Hawaii is one of the least heavily armed (as are Maine and NJ). I had the impression that there were more guns in Newark than in the whole freedom-loving midwest put together. The District of Columbia had fewer weapons per capita than any state. Probably DC has a higher percentage of city dwellers than any state and that may be a factor.
 
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  • #28
CRGreathouse
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I'm worried more about shoe owners. They seem to be behind almost every crime, from white-collar embezzlement to candy-store misdemeanors.
(sorry, couldn't resist)

Do you have data to support that?
 
  • #29
negitron
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Shoes. Everyone's arch enemy.
 
  • #30
CRGreathouse
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Just for the record, here are the statistics we should take with a grain of salt. As you say, these are from a poll and are highly suspicious.
Worse than that, they don't give any indication of the direction of causation. If you have one city (or better, one neighborhood) and found that gun owners in that city/neighborhood were more/less likely to commit violent crimes/act violently, that would give a strong suggestion that the gun ownership was the cause. But showing that a state has high ownership might just show that the state has many opportunities for hunting, has high crime driving people to own guns for protection, or has permissive laws on gun control.

Next to these factors, survey bias seems to be the least of its problems.

The District of Columbia had fewer weapons per capita than any state. Probably DC has a higher percentage of city dwellers than any state and that may be a factor.
Also the very strict gun laws there, including the handgun ban.
 
  • #31
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Worse than that, they don't give any indication of the direction of causation.
The poll had nothing to do with violence, just gun ownership. I posted it in response to turbo-1's assertion about the level of ownership in the State of Maine.
 
  • #32
turbo
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Just for the record, here are the statistics we should take with a grain of salt. As you say, these are from a poll and are highly suspicious.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/health/interactives/guns/ownership.html" [Broken]
I took the liberty of sorting the table by ownership and found Maine to be 24th among the 50 states making it one of the most heavily-armed, as you say. Pass the salt though. I see my beloved NJ as 49th out of 50 which also makes it one of the most heavily-armed, but just by a hair. At 50th, Hawaii is one of the least heavily armed (as are Maine and NJ). I had the impression that there were more guns in Newark than in the whole freedom-loving midwest put together. The District of Columbia had fewer weapons per capita than any state. Probably DC has a higher percentage of city dwellers than any state and that may be a factor.
Well, would you tell someone who claims to be a pollster whether or not you have a gun? Absent legal requirements for registration, it's going to be pretty tough to get good numbers on per-capita ownership. Until I sold my collection of Winchester lever-actions to buy some camera gear, I balanced out at least 3 dozen "No" responses, and I'm still skewing the average pretty heavily. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if guns outnumber people in this county. In the southern counties (York, Cumberland, etc) that are more urban I would expect a lot fewer deer-rifles, shotguns, etc per capita. Varying the areas from which the poll samples were drawn could skew the results greatly.

It's not uncommon around here for people to own a .22 rifle for plinking and varmint-control, a larger caliber rifle for deer hunting, a shotgun for bird-hunting, another black-powder rifle to take advantage of the extended deer season, and a handgun or two for home-defense and target-shooting. Also, nice old hunting rifles often get passed down through the family, so some people end up with more rifles than they actually use and are reluctant to sell them if they belonged to "grandpa".
 
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  • #33
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To be fair, the original question did not ask about causation. It only asked about correlation.
 
  • #34
CRGreathouse
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The poll had nothing to do with violence, just gun ownership. I posted it in response to turbo-1's assertion about the level of ownership in the State of Maine.
Right, just pointing out difficulty of going from 'level of gun ownership in a state' to 'connection between gun ownership and violence' per the OP.
 
  • #35
CRGreathouse
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To be fair, the original question did not ask about causation. It only asked about correlation.
True enough, though it's a natural continuation.

Edit: Also, it better addresses the correlation ceteris paribus which was probably the intent.
 
  • #36
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And that was my point. More fearful people are more likely to own guns, because they are afraid of themselves or members of their family/social group being victimized. More fearful people also tend to be more violent
It really disturbs and scares me that otherwise purportedly scientifically minded people (as evidenced by their coming to this site at all) are so willing to go down really long unsupported inferential chains (such as this one) to reach 'conclusions' that may be miles and miles off the mark.
 
  • #37
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It really disturbs and scares me that otherwise purportedly scientifically minded people (as evidenced by their coming to this site at all) are so willing to go down really long unsupported inferential chains (such as this one) to reach 'conclusions' that may be miles and miles off the mark.
Clearly it is only a hypothesis, based on the data that is available. If someone has good data to support or refute it, I would like to see it.

The Academy of Science actually did a thorough review of all the gun studies in the United States (or perhaps it was just the ones that examined the correlation between crime and gun ownership) and found that none of them were really adequate to draw any conclusions from.
 
  • #38
drankin
An ambiguous question gets and ambiguous answer. To say that legitemate gun owners are more or less violent would be disingenuous. There is no data to support either case. And I believe that is because there is little to no difference in violent tendencies to be measured.

But, if it makes those who do not like gun ownership feel better, in order to get a concealed carry permit (in those states that allow it) you cannot be a felon or have a police record showing any kind of domestic violence. And ex-cons/felons are not permitted to possess a firearm ever, anywhere.
 
  • #39
And that was my point. More fearful people are more likely to own guns, because they are afraid of themselves or members of their family/social group being victimized. More fearful people also tend to be more violent.

This is not something novel, it goes back to these kind of evolved psychological traits.

Back in the caveman days, say a lone hunter spotted a stranger from another tribe. A more fearful hunter would be more likely to engage his "fight or flight" instinct and either try to kill the foreign tribesman, or run, or hide from him. This would help ensure his survival, but, on the other hand, it would make it difficult for nearby tribes to cooperate and could easily spark a feud.

A less fearful tribesman may greet the stranger, and for his lack of fear, be killed by the stranger. Or he may help initiate a mutually beneficial alliance between his tribe and theirs.

But, more fearful people do tend to advocate violence much more, and they are probably more likely to commit violent (though not necessarily illegal) acts.
Fight or flight is not a normal decision making response. A person does not have a fight or flight response when they peek through the bushes to see a stranger on the other side of the clearing. The response occurs when there is an immediate threat perceived. There is also no evidence I am aware of that fearful individuals will tend to choose the fight response over the flight response or that people who are not generally fearful will not have such a response at all. You are twisting this into something to fit your preconceptions.

Besides, simply because a person makes a fight response in a highly stressful situation does not make them a violent person in general. A violent person has a preference for violent behavior in any situation. Are rapists suffering from a fight or flight response? Are wife beaters having a fight or flight response? Bar brawlers? Child Abusers? Gang members? ect ect ect
 
  • #40
drankin
Fight or flight is not a normal decision making response. A person does not have a fight or flight response when they peek through the bushes to see a stranger on the other side of the clearing. The response occurs when there is an immediate threat perceived. There is also no evidence I am aware of that fearful individuals will tend to choose the fight response over the flight response or that people who are not generally fearful will not have such a response at all. You are twisting this into something to fit your preconceptions.

Besides, simply because a person makes a fight response in a highly stressful situation does not make them a violent person in general. A violent person has a preference for violent behavior in any situation. Are rapists suffering from a fight or flight response? Are wife beaters having a fight or flight response? Bar brawlers? Child Abusers? Gang members? ect ect ect
Not to diminish your point but I learned something in a psyc class I found profoundly interesting. Often, wife beaters psychologically feel they are in a fight or flight situation. It's twisted, obviously, but it is common that they feel immasculated to a point that they will react in a way liken to self-defense. Trying to defend their identity. Of course it's no justification but if you ever wonder how someone can be so violent towards a physically weaker companion this is a common scenario for that type of person. Not trying to derail the thread, just jogged something I learned.
 
  • #41
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Fight or flight is not a normal decision making response. A person does not have a fight or flight response when they peek through the bushes to see a stranger on the other side of the clearing. The response occurs when there is an immediate threat perceived. There is also no evidence I am aware of that fearful individuals will tend to choose the fight response over the flight response or that people who are not generally fearful will not have such a response at all. You are twisting this into something to fit your preconceptions.

Besides, simply because a person makes a fight response in a highly stressful situation does not make them a violent person in general. A violent person has a preference for violent behavior in any situation. Are rapists suffering from a fight or flight response? Are wife beaters having a fight or flight response? Bar brawlers? Child Abusers? Gang members? ect ect ect
Yes, which makes it important to consider what types of violence we are talking about.

Are we talking about criminal violence, where the individual committing the violence is clearly in the wrong, or are we talking about who is more likely to be capable of killing, in a legal or potentially legal fashion (in war, in self defense, as a state-sanctioned executioner, out of fear), or are we talking about someone who uses premeditated and calculated violence, such as a criminal or a terrorist?
 
  • #42
Pythagorean
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Do we really trust social statistics anyway?

All I can offer is anecdotal evidence:
I live in Alaska. Everyone I know owns a gun. None of us our violent.
 

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