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Guns & Violence, Again...
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With the recent spate of mass shootings, (at least four high-profile incidents occurring in the U.S. and Canada in the last two weeks), the issues of guns and violence inevitably come up. Naturally, the politically correct wisdom, which is founded on the blank slate (or at least, a bare slate), wants to blame these events on “environmental,” “cultural,” and “societal” factors. We saw much of this bullshit in action with the most high-profile of these shootings, Elliot Rodger’s rampage. I have commented on this (see Beware Armchair Psychoanalysis). In his case, crackpot theories weren’t limited to coming from the bare slate P.C. establishment, but came from within the “genetically-informed”* community itself. Few of these explanations likely have any truth to them, and my earlier post should have made the foolishness of cooking up these environmental theories obvious.

This is not to say that there aren’t environmental factors that play a role in these crimes, but they are hard to identify. Peter Turchin’s work may be the closest to fleshing some of these out.

However, most of the naive discussion on the matter ignores one incredibly important factor in rates of violence and the prevalence of guns: DNA.

Previously, in my post Guns & Homicide, Map Form, I showed that the relationship between the prevalence of guns and homicide, globally, was pretty weak:

World_map_of_civilian_gun_ownership_-_2nd_color_scheme.svgMap_of_world_by_intentional_homicide_rateHomicide rate per capita on bottom. I had hoped that at least settled the situation. But it did not. Now, let us just look at gun deaths (from here, additional information here):

While it’s not totally clear if this map distinguishes gun homicides from gun suicides, it nonetheless shows that the association between the presence of guns and violence is pretty damned weak. This is true if even we limit ourselves to the high average IQ nations (i.e., the “developed” world).

Indeed, an interesting pattern emerges if we look within nations (at all homicides, not just firearm-related), as well (from here):

[Edit, 4/11/15: Added a map of the world, which has homicide rates across the entire globe at a higher resolution than the map at the start of the post

Violence Map

[Edit, 9/26/14: Added a map of the world, which has homicide rates across the entire globe at a higher resolution than the map at the start of the post:

As well as these data in graph form:]

Homicide global graph

Also, see this close-up of Europe:

BydoE2BIgAA43cP.jpg large***End edit***]

There’s plenty of killing in Eastern Europe (even in Finland, apparently, in the Sami areas), mostly the former Soviet states. But even within Russia, rates of violence are higher in the far east. Note the pattern in North America. I will return to that shortly.

On the basic level, before you can postulate a causal relationship, you should at least have a correlation. The “guns cause violence” crowd doesn’t even have that. That didn’t stop one study from somehow finding one, though.

In Gun Ownership and Firearm-related Deaths (2013), the authors claimed a fairly strong (r = 0.8) correlation between the availability of guns in a nation and firearm related deaths it has. A look at their data illustrates this – and the problems with their methodology:


A look at the specific flags featured should make the problem clear: all the countries examined were in Western Europe and the Anglosphere, with Turkey, South Africa, Israel, and Japan thrown in. As we see from the above maps, including Eastern Europe would have thrown off their relationship just a bit.

Additionally, they lumped gun suicides in with gun homicides. It almost goes without saying that there will be a connection between the availability of guns and the rate of gun suicides. Guns make suicide attempts more likely to be successful, for starters.

Swiss-guns-and-bikes-85530937385-390x330 Though I suppose it could be conceivable that one could argue that the presence of guns has some effect within different Northwestern European peoples. Does this argument make sense? Well, if you’ve been following along here, you might guess where I am going to go with that.

In my series on the American nations, particularly my earlier post, More Maps of the American Nations, I noted the great regional variation in guns and crime. Let us look at some of these again, closely:

And here’s a map by with more granular data, gun dealers per capita per county:


Now let’s compare that with rates of gun homicides across the country (from the CDC):

All Race Age-Adjusted firearm homicides rates county 2004-2010-C While there is some missing data here, it is reasonably filled in when one looks at state-level gun homicide rates:

State level Gun homicide It is clear that there is a huge disconnect between where guns are more common in America and where there is actually the most gun violence.

Now let’s compare these maps to Colin Woodard‘s American Nations map:


Gun ownership appears concentrated in Yankeedom, the northern parts of the Far West, and in Greater Appalachia – with a somewhat smaller concentration in the Deep South. The last three of those “nations” clustering together is hardly unusual, because they are often clustered in many aspects, as I’ve previously discussed. But Yankeedom, which is often diametrically opposed to the Deep South, also seems to have plenty of guns. However, here in Yankeedom they are primarily used for hunting. The presence of guns and the existence of gun violence seems to coincide across Greater Appalachia and parts of the Deep South.

The places with high levels of gun violence in America relates to another map:

White Liberal Counties

Gun violence in America is primarily concentrated in areas with large numbers of Blacks and Hispanics. Indeed, the continually ignored fact in these debates about American gun violence is that the reason for the outsized rates of violence of the United States, compared with the other Northwestern European and NW Euro derived countries, is the large Black and Hispanic populations in this country.

The disconnect between the availability of guns and violence also extends to our northern neighbor (from the RCMP):

Canada Guns-F

MurderRate2007(2007 murder rate, U.S. and Canada, from here). In Canada, there is no strong association between gun availability and murder – indeed, there appears to be a slight negative association, if anything (this appears to be also true in the U.S. to an extent). Indeed, just next door to me in New Brunswick, there is a fairly high rate of gun ownership, but little violence (the Moncton shooter notwithstanding), as is the case here in Maine as well. The high rate of violence in Nunavut can be traced to its predominantly Inuit population.

But taken together, rates of gun violence across Canada and the U.S. cannot be explained solely by certain racial minorities. Indeed, gun violence appears higher in some White areas as well, primarily Greater Appalachia.

This brings me to another topic thrown about in this whole discussion. That is the issue of “gun culture.” Even excepting certain non-European populations in the U.S., the country does have a considerably high rate of gun ownership. And indeed, guns are an integral feature of “American” culture. (While Canada has a fairly high rate of gun ownership internationally, it is comparable to rates in much of the rest of the NW Euro & derived world.) But, as Woodard would tell you, and as you’d know from following this blog, there is no one “American” culture, and there never was. Support for permissive gun laws and a heavily gun-centric focus are hallmarks of some of the American nations, particularly the Deep South, Greater Appalachia, and the Far West:

As discussed previously (see my posts A Tentative Ranking of the Clannishness of the “Founding Fathers” and Flags of the American Nations), the ancestors of the people that live in these areas came from certain, more aggressive peripheral areas of the British Isles. In the case of the settlers of the Tidewater and the Deep South, the Cavaliers, their ancestors hailed from southwest England. The founders of Greater Appalachia were the descendents the aggressive Border Reivers of the rugged English-Scottish border area.


King Charles I leading his Cavaliers in battle (source)


Border Reiver cowboys (source)

The martial traditions of these groups live on in the nations of American South. Individuals from these nations, especially those from Greater Appalachia, also went on to found the Far West, as process which itself involved a strong degree of sorting for even tougher, more free-spirited people, as described in my earlier post.

This highlights an important fallacy on the matter of guns and the discussion of “culture” in general in most mainstream circles. People fail to consider where culture comes from. “Culture” is not some intangible, otherworldly agent. Culture is produced by people. More specifically, the traits of a society are the collective behavior of individuals which comprise it – the vector sum of individual temperaments, as John Derbyshire put it, referencing me (see about time 15:00).

republicanJesusThis is why commenters look on in puzzlement over the disconnect between the Dixie peoples’ embrace of Christianity and the actual tenets as taught by Christian tradition. These commenters are looking at it the wrong way. Christian teachings aren’t what motivates Southerners’ behavior and is not what shapes their views; they selectively embrace the parts of the religious traditions that “come naturally” to their way of thinking. In other words, religion is an effect, not a cause of behavior (see also The Atheist Narrative). This true of any cultural feature, of which religious behavior and belief are just examples.

This also, by the way, illustrates the futility of looking at one or another specific aspect of a nation’s – indeed even a local region’s – society and assuming that that aspect is the determining variable (in this case, gun availability). This violates one of hbd* chick’s cardinal commandments: “different peoples is different.” Even comparing White Americans in different parts of the country is essentially comparing apples to oranges (or, at least, apples to pears). Even if we found a strong relationship between gun violence and gun availability, the question would then become: why does gun availability vary from society to society (when it’s clearly not technological or economic factors in the way)?

Edit, 4/11/15: [Indeed, see this paper on the heritability of gun ownership in a national sample across the U.S.:

Genetic and Nonshared Environmental Factors Predict Handgun Ownership in Early Adulthood

There are strong genetic factors involved, and, more importantly, zero shared environment. This finding in a national sample rules out local cultural effects as being involved.

***End Edit***]

Looking at the inherited natures of different human populations makes the poor relationship between guns and violence less mysterious. The Swiss can have their guns without much incident. My own people, Jamaicans, not so much. As I said on Twitter:

We do indeed have a lot of work to do to identify what environmental factors (to whatever extent those are relevant) contribute to individual outbursts of gun violence, and indeed, all violence. We certainly aren’t going to get there very quickly if we keep scrambling around recycling the same tired old inadequate explanations every time there’s some attention-grabbing incident.

See also:

JayMan’s Race, Inheritance, and IQ F.A.Q. (F.R.B.)

My previous posts on the American nations:

A Tentative Ranking of the Clannishness of the “Founding Fathers”
Flags of the American Nations
Maps of the American Nations
More Maps of the American Nations


Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality


*I struggle with a name for this collection of people. None of the popular labels, such as “HBD,” “Dark Enlightenment,” “Alt-Right,” etc fit because none of those labels fits every member – nor should it.

(Republished from JayMan's Blog by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Excellent work Jayman, ( I am not being sarcastic, I really mean it ) but now how do we get people who are immune to facts and logic, people who prefer to go with how they feel about things ( and they are at least half the population I would think ) to acknowledge and understand this?

    • Replies: @JayMan
  2. Sisyphean says: • Website

    This addresses the cause (beautifully) but not what we can do about it. If you import violence prone people into a less violent society and the guns everyone can buy suddenly start killing people in larger and larger numbers, what do you do? Do you then restrict gun ownership? The law abiding citizens won’t stand for that, they know they won’t be out killing people with their guns and they want to be able to protect themselves from those who will. But you also can’t deport the violent ones, not today, nor can you kill them (in most states, and even those that do, do so rarely and only after great expense). Meanwhile parole and conjugal visits ensure that the most violent among us will contribute to the next generation even after they’re convicted.

    But how terrible of me for not understanding that violence is all in the upbringing. Jayman, if only we taught these poor children not to kill, then all of this heartache could be avoided!

    • Replies: @JayMan
  3. JayMan says: • Website


    And let’s not forget not indoctrinating them in “gun culture”. How foolish of you to miss that…

    • Replies: @Sisyphean
  4. Sisyphean says: • Website

    Yes yes, quite right.

  5. One of the best treatments on the subject I’ve read in awhile. It continues to amaze how well the Nations hypothesis consistently tracks across various topics.

    • Replies: @JayMan
  6. JayMan says: • Website


    Thank you!

    Yes, the American nations bit is something. Of course, if culture was indeed the product of the inherited temperaments of the people who exhibit it, would we expect anything different?

    • Replies: @FoolishReporter
  7. JayMan says: • Website
    @Canadian Friend

    @Canadian Friend:

    Thank you!

    As soon as you’ve figured that out, call me… 😉

  8. @JayMan

    shhhh! suggesting such a thing might hurt people’s feelings 😉

  9. Olorin says:

    Jesus would be indexing.

    And would have better muzzle discipline.

  10. Jayman,

    If you’re worried some casual observers will give you the “tl:dr” tripe when you make them aware of this post, just point them to this to get the point across:

    Full disclosure: I actually own that shirt.

  11. LLL says:

    I am so glad I read this entry. Just read the major newspapers in the north and you’ll notice shootings increase as temps go up. And guess the demographics of the neighborhoods where most(not all) of the shootings will take place? And they happen in suburbs more than ever. Seems like Suffolk County Long Island is quite the shoot ’em up suburb.

  12. “I struggle with a name for this collection of people”

    pirate biologists

  13. An easy argument for the emotional types to understand is this:

    Billions more innocent people have been killed by armed military, police, and criminals than by armed law abiding citizens.

    Knowing this fact, why would you demand that law abiding armed citizens be disarmed?

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