Dr. John Lott’s classic More Guns, Less Crime, has been a thorn in the side of anti-liberty forces since first published in 1998. It is now in its third edition and is no less annoying to those that would disarm the law abiding. As one might imagine, the book proves, conclusively, the title. Anti-liberty forces have vilified the book and Lott, but none have been able to disprove his careful and exhaustive research.
Lott is the head of the Crime Prevention Resource Center, and its recent research is interesting indeed. It will not surprise those that keep up with research on firearms ownership and use, but will place another thorn, rather more southward, in those what would destroy the Second Amendment.
The United States can really be divided up into three types of places. Places where there are no murders, places where there are a few murders, and places where murders are very common.
In 2014, the most recent year that a county level breakdown is available, 54% of counties (with 11% of the population) have no murders. 69% of counties have no more than one murder, and about 20% of the population. These counties account for only 4% of all murders in the country.
The worst 1% of counties have 19% of the population and 37% of the murders. The worst 5% of counties contain 47% of the population and account for 68% of murders. As shown in figure 2, over half of murders occurred in only 2% of counties.
Murders actually used to be even more concentrated. From 1977 to 2000, on average 73 percent of counties in any give year had zero murders. Possibly, this change is a result of the opioid epidemic’s spread to more rural areas. But that question is beyond the scope of this study. Lott’s book “More Guns, Less Crime” showed how dramatically counties within states vary dramatically with respect to murder and other violent crime rates.
The research reveals half of all murders happen in only 2% of counties, and 37% in a single percent. Only the top 4% of counties have 16 or more murders, and fully 54% have none. Even in large urban areas with high murder rates, most murders are centered in specific areas; they are not evenly distributed throughout the area.
This map illustrates America’s counties and the distribution of murders. The darker red, the more murders. Again, the distribution of dark red areas tends to match, in large measure, the dark blue states in terms of political preferences, which will not be surprising to the well-informed. Such areas do their best to disarm the law-abiding, tend to be very weak on criminals, and are currently experiencing the worst consequences of the Ferguson Effect.
Note this map of the Washington, DC area, a city with among the most stringent, abusive and unconstitutional gun laws in the nation:
Washington, DC has large areas without murders. 14th Street NW divides the eastern and western parts of the district, with murders overwhelmingly limited to the eastern half. The area around the capitol is also extremely safe.
Lott does specifically address gun ownership and crime:
According to a 2013 PEW Research Center survey, the household gun ownership rate in rural areas was 2.11 times greater than in urban areas (“Why Own a Gun? Protection is Now Top Reason,” PEW Research Center, March 12, 2013). Suburban households are 28.6% more likely to own guns than urban households. Despite lower gun ownership, urban areas experience much higher murder rates. One should not put much weight on this purely ‘cross-sectional’ evidence over one point in time, but it is still interesting to note that so much of the country has both very high gun ownership rates and zero murders.
What’s really striking is that most of the nation has high gun ownership rates, and no murders. One won’t get this information from the media, and anyone forming opinions from Hollywood’s television and movie offerings certainly won’t get the truth either.
By all means, take the links. There’s a great deal more information available.