How does the number of steps to buy a gun relate to overall homicide and suicide rates?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

A recent New York Times story lamented how few steps there were to buy a gun in the US versus other countries, so sociologist David Yamane decided to ask the obvious question, Is there a patterned relationship between the number of steps someone has to go through to buy a gun in these 15 countries and the countries’ overall rates of homicide and suicide?

Homicide rates are weakly related to the number of steps it takes to buy a gun in these 15 countries. The polynomial trendline increases through the middle of the range then decreases at the high end (Japan), but the correlation is weak (0.071).

The relationship between suicide rates and the number of steps it takes to buy a gun is slightly stronger (0.085), but still weak and not in the direction suicide prevention advocates would like. The polynomial trendline increases fairly consistently through the range then jumps up somewhat at the end (again, Japan).

Looking at the combined rate of homicide and suicide, we see a still stronger though still weak correlation (0.123) with steps to buy a gun, with the polynomial trendline starting at the United States (2 steps and 14.58 combined rate) and arcing its way upward and leveling off toward Japan (13 steps and 18.71 combined rate). In between you can find two countries with 8 steps but dramatically different death rates by homicide and suicide (Austria’s 12.61 rate and Brazil’s 32.34 rate). Ditto for 7 steps: Germany 9.95 combined rate vs. Russia’s 45.91 combined rate.

The closest countries to the United States are Austria (8 steps, 12.61 combined rate) and Yemen (2 steps, 16.67 combined rate).


  1. Wait, so in this guy’s world, a correlation of .071 is meaningful enough to be a “weak correlation”? When I took stats, that was just considered random variation. And the best one here, 0.123, was as well. We just threw those out and looked for other variables.

    Is this the difference between “social science” and engineering?

    Wake me up when the correlation is over 0.75. I won’t even begin to think of a relationship until that.

  2. Kirk says:

    Stats aside, I think the real metric ought to be “availability of firearms”. After all, the weapons which flooded Albania at the end of Communism didn’t exactly get purchased from the local Big Five or Walmart…

    In the final analysis, the actual issue isn’t the gun, the knife, or high-power acids: It’s the human who uses them. And, that’s why the jackasses are so afraid to actually deal with these issues–They don’t want to be all judgey, and put dangerous people away.

    There was a news piece a few days ago about how a teacher was bewailing the fact that she’s starting to get students who are afraid to characterize the people in the well-known story by Shirley Jackson, The Lottery as being, y’know… Wrong. Well, surprise, surprise, surprise–The SJW assholes are finally starting to reap what they’ve been sowing in the schools, and are shocked, shocked I tell you, that the students they’ve carefully been teaching not to have morals or judgement… Mostly don’t.

    Which is going to make it ever so much easier when the time comes to exterminate the lot of them, because all you’ll need to do is tell them that it’s a cultural value of yours to herd creatures like them into camps and then let nature take it’s course. And, like as not, that’s about the only solution that the nominally civilized are going to have–The rot is too deep, and entrenched. I don’t see an easy way to fix it, either, so the entire scabrous lot of them are probably going to have to go, and go unpleasantly, or we’re going to be subsumed in barbarism the likes of which no one has seen since the time of the Sea Peoples. Even the Fall of Rome wasn’t as bad as this next one is going to be, because most of the people who moved in on Rome wanted to ape Roman culture and the benefits of Roman civilization. This next bunch that we’ve grown up internally…? Nihilists, all.

  3. Graham says:


    Brilliant. Considering The Lottery was largely the metaphorical outcry of an urbane/ish middlebrow postwar liberal against the horrid, beastly primitive customs of the backward backwoods of America [one wonders how Jackson would have evaluated upland New Guinea of the same era], how perfect that the final end of progressive philosophy could be to validate the existence of such quaint local customs.

    I wonder if that teacher would show them the movie The Wicker Man. The cop is a fairly unreformed Presbyterian sort, so maybe his finally being burned alive as a harvest sacrifice by the island’s unreconstructed pseudo-pagans would also now be considered valid.

  4. Graham says:

    Although I am the last man who’s likely to survive another event like the Bronze Age Collapse. So that sucks.

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