This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

More Guns Equals More Deaths

I am very sad to once again be blogging about gun violence. I've done so several times over the years, most recently after the Las Vegas shooting. Social scientists keep coming up with the same analysis time and again--the more people there are with guns, the higher will be the death rate from guns. Thanks to RubĂ©n Rumbaut for pointing me to an article in today's NYTimes drawing similar conclusions in the aftermath of yesterday's horrific school shootings in south Florida. 
The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.
Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns. From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.
Worldwide, Mr. Lankford found, a country’s rate of gun ownership correlated with the odds it would experience a mass shooting. This relationship held even when he excluded the United States, indicating that it could not be explained by some other factor particular to his home country. And it held when he controlled for homicide rates, suggesting that mass shootings were better explained by a society’s access to guns than by its baseline level of violence.
Today it seemed to me that politicians wanted to talk more about mental health issues than about guns.
A 2015 study estimated that only 4 percent of American gun deaths could be attributed to mental health issues. And Mr. Lankford, in an email, said countries with high suicide rates tended to have low rates of mass shootings — the opposite of what you would expect if mental health problems correlated with mass shootings.
Republicans politicians, in particular, seem genuinely unwilling to acknowledge the true reason behind these mass shootings. If American society could limit access to guns, we would limit the tragic, unnecessary deaths that are vastly more commonplace than they should be. 

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