December 20, 2012

Fine. Let’s have a discussion about gun regulations.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 11:26 pm

A simple mathematical analysis of repealing all gun regulation:

X1 = fraction of people in USA who own conceal-carry weapons, legally or not
Y1 = fraction of people in USA who took steps to shoot at least one innocent person
Z1 = fraction of people to have shot at least one innocent person
N1 = average number of innocent people who were shot by a gun owning maniac

Right now, X is low, Y is even lower, Z is really low, and N might be like 3 at most.

Now, let’s say we let anyone legally own a conceal carry weapon and use it any time they wish.

X2 will now be much bigger (gun rights people claim this is even desirable, ok… let’s see)

Y2 will now become bigger as well. Now, I will give gun rights activists the maximum benefit of the doubt here. I won’t say that Y2/Y1 = X2/X1, because I will assume that while a flood of perfectly disciplined people will get guns, the majority of undisciplined “future murderers” already have them, and therefore will grow at a lower rate than the total gun ownership. This is the dampening factor to reflect the argument that “gun control keeps the guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens but doesn’t deter criminals”. Note that the same people making that argument would agree we can’t tell ahead of time who would become a murderer (otherwise many of them would be for gun regulation). So they should expect the number of potential shooters to go up with the number of people owning guns, albeit less than proportionally. So I will say that Y2/Y1 = (X2/X1) * 0.1

So Y2 has become bigger than Y1 by 0.1 times as much as X2 has become bigger than X1.

Now, after everyone can carry these weapons, we will have let’s say 20% of the population owning one

X2 = 20% … so X has increased by 200x

So with a huge benefit of the doubt being given to gun rights activists, we will have the number of potential aggravated shooters increase only by 20

Y2 = 0.2%, or 600 THOUSAND PEOPLE

These are people who might have been great neighbors, students, workers etc. but due to some circumstances wanted to shoot someone.

So even with very generous assumptions we have increased the number of people taking actual steps to shoot someone by 20x.

To be effective at reducing the gun murder rate, this policy should have the impressive effect of reducing N1, the average number of people shot, by MORE THAN 20!

But remember, N1 is already 3. An average gun murderer can’t shoot less than 1 person by definition. The only way that repealing gun control regulations will reduce the gun murder rate is by increasing the deterrent factor.

D = Y2/Z2 — the number of people who took steps to shoot someone but didn’t

This factor must be increased by anywhere from 7 to 20 times (7 if N2 can be brought down to 1, meaning never more than one person shot per shooting.)


Now what would cause D to increase so sharply? Gun rights activists claim it is that “anyone might have a gun, for example you don’t go into a police station”. But it’s not just about owning a gun, it’s about the procedures at the police station, and the training they have! How many would-be shooters would be deterred from carrying a concealed weapon by the fact that a single classroom teacher may be armed, more than they are now by the threat of being caught by the police? Many shooters seem sacrifice their own life anyway. Also, consider that many gang members often are packing heat, and yet street gangs and mafias have some of the highest rates of shootings. The correlation seems to be more with sociological factors (youth, social norms, etc.).

There is one arbitrary factor up there, and that is the 20% figure. I don’t actually know how many more people will opt to get guns if it was completely legal, but it does affect the threshold for D proportionally.

How do you think the number of people owning a gun correlates to the number of people shot in a given year? What does the curve look like?

I would like to hear from anyone — libertarians, conservatives, progressives — about this argument.

From a practical point of view, looking at this spreadsheet, we might be able to suss out some correlations:

Further reading:

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