Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) puts forward a Democratic talking point:
Did you know?— Chris Murphy 🟧 (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 30, 2022
It’s states with loose gun laws where violence rates are the highest. pic.twitter.com/BMzocVm6ns
To some extent.
I’m not aware of a good index of point-of-sale gun control by state. Instead, I’ll look at Biden’s share of the two-party vote in 2020 as a measure of liberal sentiments in a state that probably tend to have some effect on gun control legislation at the state level. (Of course, this isn’t a perfect correlation: Rural Vermont, as Bernie Sanders admits, likes Democrats but also likes guns.)
There is a moderate r = 0.46 correlation between the white homicide victimization rate in a state and Biden’s share of the vote:
I think it’s not impossible that whites, who tend to be law-abiding, might be influenced by gun control laws.
Of course, this is not a graph of murder perpetration, but of homicide victimization. For example, it’s likely not a coincidence that Mississippi whites are most likely due to die by homicide. In part, this is due to them being fairly ornery and well armed. But it’s also due to Mississippi being the blackest of the 50 states and thus having the highest murder rate (outside of Washington DC, of course).
On the other hand, whites made up only 26% of homicide victims from 2018-2021. The Big Kahuna of homicides is blacks, and there’s not much correlation at all between Biden’s Share of the Vote and a state’s black homicide rate (r = 0.11):
Granted, Massachusetts, the most liberal of the 50 states, has a quite low black homicide rate. But is that due to brilliant gun control legislation? Or has Massachusetts had a high quality sort of black population going back past even W.E.B. Du Bois’s time? Or is my impression correct that no matter how liberal Massachusetts votes in presidential elections, they let hard-nosed Irish Catholics rule the streets, making Boston the only American city I’ve been to in my lifetime where blacks seem to be afraid of whites rather than vice versa? I can recall going to downtown fireworks displays in 1986 in both Chicago, where whites were stepping into the gutter to let domineering blacks stroll down the sidewalk, and Boston, where the tiny number of blacks I saw seemed scared of the rowdy white crowd.
In contrast, the CDC treats hyper-liberal Washington D.C. as a state, and D.C. is second only to dystopian Missouri, home of the Ferguson Effect, in black homicide rate.
These graphs make a lot of sense when you think about them: a lot of whites are probably grateful that they live in a strict gun-control state because they worry about who knows what they might have done in that one situation in which my significant other got me so irate.
In contrast, point-of-sale gun control legislation doesn’t have much effect on the black homicide rate.
What does drive down the black murder rate, as we’ve seen in northeastern nominally liberal big cities like New York, is point-of-use gun control: patting down guys who look like they might be be packing illegal handguns. But ever since the “racial reckoning” began on May 25, 2020, Democrats have been insisting that America’s biggest criminal justice problem is too much law and order among blacks.
Of course, the real Big Factor in a state’s total homicide rate is the black share of the state’s population:
A reader of my graph-laden column in last week’s Taki’s Magazine, “The Geography of Homicide,” points out that my graph showing an r = 0.82 correlation between states’ total homicide victimization rates and their black share of the population suggests that the American Indian share of the population also impacts the homicide rate in some Western states. Above is a redone version of the graph, following commenters’ suggestion to flip the axes around so that states with higher homicide rates show up higher on the graph.
For six of the seven states with at least Arizona’s 3.9% American Indian share of the population, the actual statewide homicide rate is higher than predicted by the state’s black share of the population. Doing a multiple linear regression including black share of the population and Native American share boosts the correlation coefficient from 0.819 to 0.863.
This shouldn’t be surprising because American Indian homicide victimization rates were 4.5 times that of whites in 2020. Native Americans have the lowest percentage of their homicide deaths that are due to gunfire, so I’m guessing a lot of these are manslaughters during a drunken brawl rather than, say, a drive-by shooting on Dutch commandos in Indianapolis.
That raises the question of what’s going on with American Indians, a group that has gotten very little attention during the Great Awokening.
Up through about 2007, American Indians and Hispanics had quite similar homicide victimization rates (to the extent that you can trust the CDC’s cause-of-death WONDER database when it comes to American Indians. There are a lot of people in the Western states who are mostly white but also kind of Native, and which box gets checked for each of them can be uncertain.) But then around the time of the Great Crash, homicide victimization rates for Latinos improved steadily until the Ferguson Effect got going in 2015. American Indians didn’t improve in the 2000s and then in the mid-2010s started to get worse, so a sizable gap opened up. (Not shown is 2021, in which Indians stabilized but Hispanics went up, narrowing the gap. I’m concerned about the progress made by Hispanics in recent years being lost due to the Floyd Effect.}
Also of interest is that white and Asian homicide death rates were about the same until 2007, but lately a noticeable gap has opened.
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