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December 28, 2010
Firearms death rates and suicide

A couple of weeks ago Adam Winkler (@adamwinkler) tweeted that "[w]ith 1 exception, states with least gun control had highest per capita death rate from guns: http://bit.ly/gW8aIX." Something didn't seem right about that and I suspected it was driven by suicides (something gun control has little to no effect on - see Japan's suicide rate.)

The data he was citing at Statemaster.com cites StateHealthFacts.org as it's source. Kaiser, who sponsors that site, has an understandably epidemiological point of view as health organizations don't make much of a distinction of treating the gun shot wounds of a victim, a criminal, or a suicide victim. Sure enough, when you pull the data for Suicides per capita from StateHealthFacts you find that almost all of the states at the top of the chart for per capita death rates from firearms are the states with the highest per capita suicide rates. Here is a quick top 10:

StateFirearms Death Rate RankSuicide Death Rate Rank
D.C.151
AK21
LA328
WY43
AZ57
NV65
MS716
NM82
AR915
AB1025
CA3042

California thrown in for reference. The interesting outliers are Washington D.C. (how'd that gun ban work out in 2007?) and Louisiana. Something tells me that lack of gun laws don't lead to the endemic corruption in the Big Easy...

Posted by hoffmang at 05:28 PM
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