Friday, January 01, 2016

Maths R Hard

I dislike using statistics. When the methodology isn't flawed and everything is on the up and up (which is damned rare) the most they can do is point in a general direction. Correlation is not synonymous with causation after all, and often the results will lead one down a false trail. In addition it tends to negate individuality.

That being said I see a lot of talk about the number of people killed in the u.S. with firearms and clamoring for a way to reduce that number by restrictions or even outright prohibitions on firearm possession by non-government agents. There are a few numbers to keep in mind.

Around 30,000 people are killed each year with firearms in the u.S. Roughly 16,000 are suicides, a little less than 1,000 are negligent shootings (what are erroneously referred to as accidental shootings), and the rest are homicides, both justifiable and non-justifiable.

So 30,000 people a year, if constant would mean that in a decade 300,000 people die as a result of gunfire. In a century that'd be 3,000,000 people dead from gunshot wounds.

That means it'd take an entire century to equal the number of people killed during the 2 years of the Holodomor (if we go by the lowest estimates). It'd take between 2 to 4 decades to equal the number murdered during the 2 years of the Yezhovshchina. It'd take from 3 to 5 decades to match what happened in the 4 years of the Medz Yeghern. (But combined with the 6 years of the Sayfo and the 9 years of the Greek Genocide, another 2 or 3 decades could be added to equal what the Ottoman government did around World War 1.) It'd take about a decade to match the body count from the 6 weeks during the Rape of Nanking.

To match the death toll from Hitler's 4 years of murder would take 2 to 5 centuries. For 30 years of Stalin (including the above mentioned Holodomor) it'd take from 7 to 14 centuries. The 30 or so years of Mao would take a little over 2.5 millennia.

For the number of people killed with firearms in the u.S. per year to be equal to the number of people murdered by their own governments in the 20th century, it would take about 8.7 millennia.

If 30,000 people a year were killed by gunfire from the beginnings of the Copper Age til present, it'd still take another 1,200 years before the numbers equaled what governments did to their own people in the 20th century alone.

It's estimated that around 100 million Americans own firearms. I think that number is low and would assume around 150 million Americans own at least one firearm.  But going with the low figure that'd mean for every 3,300 or so gun owners, 1 person dies as a result of gunfire.

There are roughly 2.7 million people working for the u.S. government. If we use that number and apply it to other governments from the 20th century (which is most assuredly a very high estimate), then for every government worker in Nazi Germany 5.5 people were murdered. For every government worker under Stalin 16 people were murdered. For every government employee of Mao almost 30 people were murdered.

Yet because 30,000 people are killed with firearms in a given year by government and non-government actors, some folks are insisting that all firearms be turned over so that only government may posses them?

Indeed, maths r hard.

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