Friday, 12 April 2013

Is gun ownership associated with homicide rate across countries?

In the wake of several tragic shootings in the US, the debate over gun control there has gained new zeal. Here, I present graphs depicting the cross-national relationship between gun ownership and homicide rate separately for: all countries with available data, and the OECD countries. In neither case is there any relationship between the two variables, contrary to some claims in the media. The data on gun ownership are from the Small Arms Survey 2007, while the data on homicides are from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. Of course, just because there does not appear to be any bivariate relationship between gun ownership and homicide rate across countries, it does not mean that homicide rate is not affected by gun ownership. And indeed, a number of interesting studies have attempted to tease out the effect of gun ownership on homicide rate in the US using sophisticated econometrics.

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