Killing people in the Fifty States

By Nathan Barton

Are we really one of  the most violent societies on earth?  Are we a bloodsoaked culture? According to some, the Fifty States are.  But lets look at the reality.

To me, one of the more interesting webzines today is Gun Culture 2.0, which has a recent article on understanding averages in gun culture statistics.

This article is particularly useful for defenders of our right self defense because it addresses the difference between “gun deaths” and “gun homicides” and “unintentional gun deaths” – the major being that suicide with guns results in twice as many deaths as homicides.

In that article, David Yamane returns to a frequent theme: there is no one who lives in the “United States.” Rather, we live in fifty different states and a few special territories.  And even within those states, there is a never a homogeneous society and culture.  And never has been. This is an important fact.

So, he points out from the Guardian, of the 13,000 gun homicides in 2015 in the Fifty States, almost HALF occured in just 127 cities, which include almost a quarter of the population of the Fifty States. So the established (and high, by First World standards) homicide rate of 3.3 per 100,000 for all Fifty States (and the territories such as DC), really (for those 127 cities) is more like 6.6 per hundred thousand, but for the other 230 million of us, it is just 1.5 per 100,000. Lower than many “peaceful” First World societies.

But I hasten to add (both to reinforce Mr. Yamane’s point and to argue with him over it), that the high-body-count zones are not limited just to these 127 urban areas, as pitiful and blood-soaked (by globalist standards and those of my own communities) as these are.  There are some rural and a few suburban areas that are as much bloody battlegrounds as Chicago or St. Louis.  Among them are AmerInd reservations and some other localities with very odd problems.  Like “too few” people.

Consider a “notional” reservation with just 50,000 people in which just five people are killed with guns one year.  That is a standard rate of 10 per 100,000.  (Actually, in 2013, the homicide rate on the Big Rez (the Navajo Nation) was 18.8 per 100,000; assuming half were homicides committed with a gun, the 9.4 is nearly 3 times the national average.) Homicides, not “gun deaths” (which in many reservations is MUCH higher because of incredible suicide rates, though guns are not always involved in suicides, especially on the Rez). There are other anomalies, but American culture and society varies so widely from state to state and urban to rural, that honesty demands the Fifty States NOT be treated as a single nation on such matters as homicides with guns.  Especially when we look at places like reservations and others (urban ghettos and barrios, for example) where the heavy hand of government has so damaged society, families and individuals.

Something else to be considered, usually ignored, is motive.  This is not tracked, and may be difficult to interpret (one of the problems with the entire category of “hate crime”). Or to put it more bluntly, some people SHOULD be killed.  The mother trying to drown her children. The rapist jumping on his would-be victim.  The two-legged wolves (gangs? ML)  Of this 3.3 per 100,000 killed, how many of them died at the hands of their intended victim?  One in ten? One in twenty?  We cannot tell.  But justifiable homicide is just that: justified.  I suspect that not nearly enough aggressors, perverts, and their ilk are killed as they attempt to carry out their awful deeds.  (But of course, that would drive up the total number of “gun homicides,” and the do-gooders would scream, again, how evil and violent we are.)

But the facts show that while there are some parts of some states – cities and even rural areas, that are indeed (by modern “standards”) violent and even “bloodsoaked,”  most of these Fifty States are  anything but.  And I think most of us like it that way.

Mama’s Note: Few of these “statistics” even attempt to honestly account for the millions of lives saved by ordinary people defending themselves. Guns aren’t the only tool used for this, of course, but they are the most effective. Why don’t statistics include these lives saved? Because it doesn’t promote the gun grabber’s (or media) agenda, and most of these incidents are never reported anyway. Most guns used in self defense are never fired, and nobody is injured or dies. Criminals want weak, helpless and unarmed victims. Most of the time, if the intended victim resists – especially showing a gun, the crime simply doesn’t happen and the criminal goes away to find an easier victim.

I also wonder how accurate these statistics are when including police and other government entities contribution to the “gun deaths.” Most statistics I’ve looked at were very unclear as to who is doing the killing, and who is doing the dying. Just as thugs as old as 26 are so often identified in the media as “children.” Oh yeah… statistics DO lie, and liars are happy to use statistics to lie.

Suicide is a totally separate thing, and should never be lumped into “gun” statistics. 

Some resources to understand both statistics and the reality of self defense.

My own story of self defense. The Man I Might Have Killed

And, Unreported – The Crime That Didn’t Happen

More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition

And The War On Guns, by John Lott Jr.

About tpolnathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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19 Responses to Killing people in the Fifty States

  1. davidyamane says:

    Hey, everyone. A bit late to the party here, but thanks for mentioning my work on Gun Culture 2.0.

    I know that I have taken to using the term “private citizen” lately in my work on the gun training industry. I used to use the term “civilian” in this connection – to distinguish from military and law enforcement — but then you run into the objection that LEOs are civilians, too. Fair enough.

    I got “private citizen” from Massad Ayoob, but agree that it is sort of a contradiction in terms. Any thoughts on the term or phrase I can use to describe concealed carriers and the gun training industry that serves them (as opposed to LEOs, military, and other people who get paid to carry guns)?

    Like

    • MamaLiberty says:

      Welcome, David! And a special welcome to a fellow firearms instructor (if I understood you).

      Something you might think of in light of your question here… why make much distinction at all? Why contribute to the divisions with any of those terms? People are individuals, with all sorts of reasons for owning, using and being interested in guns and self defense. And people who carry a gun are still unique individuals, whatever their reason for carrying. Not all who carry concealed (or openly) are similar otherwise, if you think about it. I just call them people.

      I’ve talked to a LOT of people, including some retired “cops,” lots of former military, many people with a lot of experience with guns and related training – and they seldom fit into neat patterns according to their affiliations. Almost every one of them was interested in learning something to improve their ability to shoot or defend themselves. One of the most gratifying things said to me was, “I never thought about it that way…” from a former cop. Let’s work together. I learn as much or more from my students as they do from me. We all have exactly the same rights and authority over ourselves, and it seems important to recognize that first. 🙂

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      • davidyamane says:

        No, not a firearms instructor myself! I am studying the firearms training industry. So, thinking less about the background of the trainers (military, LEO, etc.) than about their target audience. I think about Jeff Cooper and Gunsite, for example. Military background and trained military and LEO customers but also opened up and marketed specifically to non-military/LEO armed civilians/citizens/whatever we are calling them! And of course many many many many people followed in his footsteps, and the shall issue revolution opened up more and more and more and more opportunities for people to train outside of military and law enforcement arenas. That’s the niche I am looking at. Not trying to divide people, but to look at the differences that already exist out there (and similarities of course). Cheers!

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      • MamaLiberty says:

        Very interesting! One division I do see is that between the training given to any kind of government employee, but especially the police, and to everyone else. The police (and to a great extent, all government employees) have a totally different mind set and goal than anyone else. Ordinary people, to one extent or another, train to defend themselves/loved ones and – perhaps – others at great need. They train, for the most part, to avoid confrontation and to use the minimum of force necessary to meet the goal of self defense. Police, on the other hand, train to pursue and be aggressive in confrontations, even to creating the confrontations. They, generally speaking, don’t need to really worry about all of the legal hazards so terribly relevant to the general public. And, last but not least, they have no legal obligation to protect anyone but themselves, regardless of the mistaken belief of a lot of people.

        I’d be very interested in your take on the NRA training program. I have been a certified NRA instructor for handguns and self defense for about 10 years. I recently decided not to renew my certification and to withdraw my NRA membership. The training program was fairly good for a long time, the major advantage being that it was accepted and available so widely. Increasingly, that is no longer true, and the NRA has done a great deal itself to bring that about. Anyway, a lot more to it, but that might be enough to start a discussion. 🙂

        Like

      • davidyamane says:

        I agree with the distinctions you are making between LEO and private citizen/civilian (whatever we should call it) training. Context and purpose matters. I hear this from alot of gun trainers, but I also tend to follow the top trainers, so I don’t really know what goes on in your run of the mill training course. It would be interested to know more.

        Likewise, I don’t have any great insights (yet) into the NRA training division overall. I definitely would like to learn more about the instructor development program, especially for PPOTH. I know they went to some blended courses but then seem to have backed off on those. So, on this point I certainly have more to learn from you and your experience than vice-versa.

        One of my takes is that it’s a tricky situation because the NRA has an interest in expanding gun ownership and use, so doesn’t want to be too exclusive in certifying trainers (here I am thinking of basic pistol more than PPOTH and advanced courses like that). At the same time, it has to maintain some standard. So, how do you balance inclusivity and exclusivity?

        I also think it’s amazing how many states accept NRA courses as satisfying the CCW training requirements. Basically the government turning over part of the regulation of concealed carry to the NRA. I’ve written about this (stolen in part from my friend Jennifer Carlson) here: https://gunculture2point0.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/the-national-rifle-association-as-thousands-of-spider-monkeys-not-an-800-pound-gorilla/

        Like

      • MamaLiberty says:

        I’m afraid that the bottom line for the NRA is not the promotion of gun ownership. It might have been once, but since they became a political entity the goal has shifted to politics and “compromises” instead. They have been complicit or even the originators of too much actual “gun control” infringement. And that started a very long time ago. The only advantage of their training program was that it was available nationwide, and recognized by other political entities. Damning with faint praise… And they even managed to screw that up. We can cover the details later, but I used to be part of a fair number of NRA instructors in my corner of Wyoming – even with a low population and the fact that most people here already own and shoot guns. In the last five years, most of the NRA instructors have quit offering classes, the training coordinator and instructor’s instructors have all quit, and for several years I was the only certified instructor left… And now I have quit too. A real shame.

        Like

    • Nathan Barton, CE, PE, DEE says:

      David, thanks for joining the conversation!

      That is a tough one. So many terms have such political baggage that we have to stay away from them. I agree with the fact that LEO really ARE “civilians” and “armed citizen” gives a false understanding, just as private citizen does.

      Mama and Dave and others will chime in on this, as well, I know. One possibility would be to call us “residents” of a particular state or country. It is a legal term, I know, but doesn’t give some false impression: we can be a “resident” but be or not be a “citizen” or a “civilian” or an “agent” or a “subject.”

      The point I was trying to make is that any attempt to disarm government is going to be difficult to get in place and enforce, and easy to get around. I think it is an important one. We need to be able to deal with the fact that there will be people, time and time again, who will try to get more and more power for government – seeking always to control people’s lives.

      More ideas?

      Like

      • davidyamane says:

        Thanks for these thoughts. I regret that to offer ideas building on these would take me out of my depth too quickly and not add to the conversation at all. But looking forward to engaging when/where I can.

        Like

  2. kirk says:

    200 – 300 million (maybe more) people killed by weapons in the hands of governments circa
    1900 – 1999. in fact, a true count cannot be obtained and is, likely, actually greater than given.

    not 5% of that ‘govt’ total were murdered by firearms during that same time frame of 1900 – 1999.

    using the ‘logic’ of those who would deny private citizens the use of the best tool for self defense, the firearm, it is obvious from the above that GOVTS should be banned the use of weapons, not private individuals.

    to those who find the idea of banning firearms to govts preposterous, my question would be: given facts and history, why do you embrace and desire the wholesale slaughter of human beings which your position indicates?

    Like

    • MamaLiberty says:

      I’d much rather “ban” all non-voluntary government. That would take care of a LOT of problems, including their use of weapons on innocent people. 🙂

      Like

      • Nathan Barton says:

        Mama and I agree that banning non-voluntary government is far more effective (and even practical) than banning use of arms to governments. Keep in mind, the claim would be that “oh, Sheriff Joe over there shooting those folks is acting as a private citizen, see?”

        Like

      • MamaLiberty says:

        A small quibble here, Nathan. A “citizen” belongs to, is obligated to the government of the territory in which they live. A “private citizen” is a bit of a contradiction in terms. 🙂

        Like

      • Nathan Barton, CE, PE, DEE says:

        Dear Lady: See my comment, posted. I am not using the phrase “private citizen” – saying that OTHER people (statists) would be.

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      • MamaLiberty says:

        Sorry, I didn’t catch that! But I wind up using the words like citizen, anarchy and others sometimes – trying to frame them in such a way that we can go on to discuss the real difference. Sometimes it can lead to a rational discussion… but so often it does not.

        Picture a Finnish man, speaking classical Spanish (with a heavy Finn accent) to poor Mexican shopkeepers. And I was no help because I speak none of those languages. And none of them could understand much of my English. It was tragic and funny, all at the same time. And talk about confusing! 🙂

        Like

      • tpolnathan says:

        “Private citizen” is not MY words or phrase – that is what I am saying that someone who is a statist would be claiming that Sheriff Joe is doing. I am not making the claim, just saying I think that excuse would be used if we were (miracle of miracles) able to disarm government.

        I generally stay away from a word like citizen because I agree with Mama Liberty, and because I try not to be more confusing than I usually am.

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  3. Darkwing says:

    “13,000” gun deaths in the 50 states in 2015. In 2015 there were 100,000 vehicle accidents in the 50 states resulting in 45,000 people dead. I propose we have more vehicle control in these 50 states. We must register all vehicles, permit all drivers with driver training and demand all vehicles have insurance. Wait: we already have that. Maybe we should ban all vehicles,

    Like

    • MamaLiberty says:

      Indeed. They are working hard on doing exactly that.

      I took my one and ONLY driver’s test in 1963. I’ve been driving for the last 54 years with few problems. For about 20 years, I drove between 300 and 400 miles a DAY, all over Southern California and in some of the highest traffic areas there. In all this time, I had one accident – in a sandstorm – and one “ticket” for exceeding the 55 MPH nuttiness on a deserted desert road. I’ve also carried my gun for many years without threatening or harming anyone… except the man who tried to kill me. Him I shot.

      No, none of this is actually about safety or how well/poorly people drive or shoot. It’s about control of people by the politicians, and damn little else.

      And I sure wish we would all stop using such terms as “gun deaths” or “gun violence.” Neither guns nor motor vehicles are capable of causing any harm all by themselves, of course. It takes a human hand… and the desire to do that harm or idiotic negligence.

      Like

    • Nathan Barton says:

      Or, as seems to be happening, make “driverless” vehicles in which there are only passengers, and the vehicle is controlled by an AI or programmed system (with, of course, override by the “authorities” whenever convenient – and capable of being hacked by non-govt criminals. Uber 3.0 or Lyft 3.0?

      Like

      • MamaLiberty says:

        Probably impractical in the long run. The technology may evolve enough for cabs and buses, but few individuals will be able to afford one. But I don’t actually expect any of this to get very far. To quote an old standby: The end is near.

        Like

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