CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
The Incidence of Homicide
The Global Situation The United States Situation Human Nature: Man’s Basic Instinct to Preserve and Please Himself COMPETING GUN POLICIES
1 2 2 6
The Right to Arms: Offshoot of the Natural Right and Duty for Self-Preservation Gun-Control Laws & Regulations: The Indications of Anecdotal Evidence THE SHOWING OF MORE RECENT EVIDENCE
7 20 23
In-Country Evidence: The USA Experience
The Dependent Variable(s) The Independent Variables Results of Bivariate Analyses: The Pearson Correlation Coefficients
25 25 27
Results of Multiple Regression Analyses: The B and β Coefficients
Contents . . . . Page Inter-Country Evidence: The Worldwide Data
The Dependent Variable (DV)
The Independent Variables (IVs) or Regressors Results of Bivariate Analyses: The Pearson Correlation Coefficients
Results of Multiple Regression Analysis: The B and β Coefficients The folly of the gun ban The dominant roles of income inequality and the rule of law
38 40 41
The surprising effect of religion
The trivial roles of literacy rate and the form of government
POLICE DENSITY AND HOMICIDE RATE: THE TRIVIAL NEXUS
The “Numbers of Police” vis-à-vis Homicide Rate: The Tricky USA Correlation The Indication of Worldwide Evidence: Tenuous Nexus The Correlation and Regression Coefficients CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
43 50 50 53
HOMICIDE & OTHER VIOLENT CRIMES: THE FOLLY OF THE GUN BAN
Eduardo R. Alicias, Jr.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written prior permission of the author.
ABSTRACT This study sought to explore the connection between gun density in the population and the incidence of homicide or murder and other violent crimes. Two datasets were involved in the analyses, namely: that of the United States (involving 50 states and the District of Colombia) and that of a number of countries scattered around the world. In the United States (N = 51), an indicator of gun density (outside of residence) measured in terms of “concealed-gun carry” appears significant with the expected negative regression coefficients (B and β)—meaning that the carrying of concealed guns deters the commission of homicide or murder and other violent crimes. Of a number of control variables, only “poverty rate” appears significant with the expected positive B and β coefficients—meaning that poverty predisposes the occurrence of violent crimes. Across countries (n =151), gun density measured in terms of “guns per capita” appears with trivial B and β coefficients vis-a-vis homicide or murder rate—thus supporting the weaker expectation that gun density in the population is at least unrelated to the commission of homicide or murder. Of a number of control variables, three appear significant, namely: “income inequality” (in terms of Gini coefficients) with the expected positive coefficients, “rule of law” with the expected negative coefficients, and “dominant religion” showing that the inhabitants of the Islamic and the Buddhist are less inclined to commit homicide or murder than those of the Christian countries. In sum, a gun-ban policy is one that finds no basis in evidence, even as it does violence against man’s immanent right of self-presevation usually exercised with the use of arms like firearms. Lastly, as a corollary finding, “police density” (ratio of the number of police officers relative to the population) appears to have no causal effect, within the observed practical range, upon the incidence of homicide or murder, both in the United States and across a number of countries (n = 90). v
LIST OF TABLES Table
1. Pearson Correlation Coefficients Between the Independent Variables (IVs) on One Hand and the Dependent Variables (DVs) on the Other, n =50
2. Regression of Crimes Rates on the Gun Policy Variables and Illiteracy Rate (N = 51)
3. Regression of Crimes Rates on “Concealed-Gun Carry” & Other Variables (n = 51)
4. Pearson Correlation Coefficients Between the Independent Variables (IVs) on One Hand and the Homicide or Murder Rate (DV) on the Other
5. Regression of Homicide or Murder Rate on Guns per Capita and the Other IVs Or Regressors (serving as Control Variables), n = 151
6. Correlation Coefficients Between Police Density (IV) and Property Crime Rate (DV)
7. Police Density and Property Crime Rate (2005 & 2010): Intertemporal Comparison
8. The Correlation Coefficients Between the Density of Police and Private Security Forces on One Hand and Homicide or Murder Rate (circa ≤2012) on the Other
9. Regression of Homicide or Murder Rate (circa ≤) on Police Density and the Other IVs Or Regressors (serving as Control Variables), N = 90
Broadly defined, according to the Wikipedia (12 November 2012), homicide is the act of a human killing another human. The act can either be criminal or otherwise. The act of killing someone like that imposed by the state under the authority and by force of penal law (act of capital punishment) or that committed by one under a state of insanity or in his defense in the context of a life-threatening unlawful aggression is not deemed criminal. Also deemed not criminal are homicides committed in the warfront or those committed by law enforcement agencies in the pursuit and conduct of their legitimate law enforcement activities, for example, killing armed lawless elements in a gunfight. Intentional homicide—therefore criminal homicide—is defined by the Wikipedia (12 November 2012) as “unlawful death purposely inflicted on a person by another person.” Depending upon the jurisdiction, criminal homicide takes several forms, and may even include certain unintentional killings. Murder is intentional and therefore criminal homicide. In the United States, for example, criminal homicide also includes both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. In the latter case, the felon who also kills an innocent bystander, aside from the intended victim, may additionally be found criminally guilty. Moreover, although suicide is not a form of homicide, assisting someone in the act of committing suicide may constitute criminal homicide (e.g., under Section 401, California Penal Code).
The Incidence of Homicide The Global Situation. The Wikipedia (12 November 2012), drawing from a 2011 study of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, reports that in 2010 the total number of homicides across the globe was 468,000. This was distributed by continental grouping as follows: Africa, 36%; the Americas, 31%; Asia, 27%; Europe, 5%; and Oceania, 1%. Further, it is reported that a
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great majority (82%) of the homicide victims were male; and of course 18% were female. And, among the female victims, 40 to 70% were linked to partor family-related violence. In light of these numbers, quite expectedly the homicide rate (per 100,000 inhabitants) in Africa and the Americas (at 17 and 16 per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively) was more than twice the global average (6.9 per 100,000). On the other hand, the homicide rate in Asia, Europe and Oceania (between 3 and 4 per 100,000) was roughly half the global average. Moreover, according to Wikipedia, forty-two (42%) percent of homicides globally (2010) were committed using firearms. The United States Situation. The Clifsnotes website cites statistical data indicating the need to reduce gun violence in the United States. According to this source, as of December 2012, on the average, everyday thirteen (13) children under the age of nineteen (19) are killed, and expectedly more are injured by gunfire. For youths aged 10 – 19 years old, homicide is the second leading cause of death, and the same is the first-ranked cause of death for male blacks of this age group. And most youth homicides are committed with firearms, especially handguns. (Retrieved from http://www.clifsnotes.com/ study_guide/Does-Gun-Control-Reduce-Crime.topicArticleId-10065-9923.html on 1 December 2012).
Human Nature: Man’s Basic Instinct to Preserve and Please Himself The ownership, possession, carrying, and use of a gun are clearly linked to man’s basic instinct to preserve, please or make himself happy. The basic question is asked: why do men do violence, and at times kill? Early on in the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan, 1651) answered this when he found and reported “three principal causes of quarrel” that may lead to killing, namely: competition, diffidence, and glory. Hobbes explained as follows, to quote:
“The first [competition] maketh men invade for gain; the second [diffidence], for safety; and the third [glory], for reputation. The first use[s] violence, to make themselves masters of other men’s persons, wives, children, and cattle; the second [diffidence], to defend them; the third [glory], for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name.”
Under the first cause of quarrel, in virtue of his instinctive desire for gain, man competes to dominate other men and to aggrandize himself—for the acquisition of material and physical benefits, and more thereof. This is a natural consequence of his basic instinct to preserve himself, that is, in this case, to enlarge his means and capacity for self-preservation by lording it over the persons of other men, of their wives and their children, as well as their properties. This obtains when, say, Pedro intentionally kills Juan in order to capture the latter’s store of food or money and/or even his succulent and tasty wife who, on captivity, gets to be cradled and cuddled with a profusion of saliva cum a quantum of verbal amatory gobbledygook like: “Honey, I don’t mind the honeybee that is linked with you, but now you are mine; you are now my love; I cannot live without you; you are now my life, the quintessential preservative of my life.” Indeed, Pedro, the man, competes, invades, and fights for incremental preservatives, as it were, of his life—including the succulence and delicacy of neighbor’s wife.
This brings to the fore the synergy coming from another
aspect of human nature, that is, man’s instinctive continual pursuit of pleasure and more of it and avoidance of or aversion to pain (happiness). This is natural law that operates inexorably—among all the beasts, man included. A store of food or a hoard of money or even a harem should justly be the result of continuing labor or hard work which obviously is painstaking and painful. However, man is always tempted to do or go the easy and pleasurable way in search of happiness, e.g., the way of the sloth and/or the harlot. Clearly, it is so
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much easier and pleasurable for him, for example, to simply steal and/or even kill for that purpose rather than plod and plow under the searing summer sun. Thus, unless restrained by civil laws and/or by his immanent sense of justice or in-born affection for kith, kin, and kindred others, man would simply be, and merely behave in this elemental state of nature, that is, to just brutishly compete, struggle, and kill if need be--if only to assure himself possession of and/or access to what it takes (property, and more of it) to preserve, please, and/or aggrandize himself in a harsh, hostile, and beastly Darwinian environment. Consequently, in this light, Hobbes concluded, thus: “xxx the condition of man xxx is a condition of war of every one against every one, in which case every one is governed by his own reason, and there is nothing he can make use of that may not be of help unto him in preserving his life against his enemies; it followeth that in such a condition every man has right to every thing, even to another’s body. And therefore, as long as this natural right of every man to every thing endureth, there can be no security to any man, how strong or wise soever he be xxx. And consequently, it is a precept, or general rule of reason: that every man ought to endeavor peace, as far as he has hope
of obtaining it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war.”
In sum and briefly stated, according to Hobbes, the two fundamental laws of human nature are: first, that man tends to seek peace and follow it (peace is more pleasurable than war); and second, that by all means possible man has to defend himself (if war is imposed upon him). Under the second cause of quarrel (“diffidence”), if war is imposed upon him, if he is invaded, he must as a matter of natural right and duty “use all the helps and advantages of war” if only to preserve himself, that is, preserve his
person, the persons of his wife and children, and his properties. Hence, in this context, it is his duty and right to kill such an invader, and ipso facto, feel and enjoy the natural pleasure to be alive rather than to be dead. In a Darwinian environment, a man’s success is measured by his command over the environment--over resources thereof and which usually he calls and declares to be his properties. Quite naturally, he envisions a unity between himself and his properties, such that when the extent and magnitude of his properties get enlarged, then ipso facto he feels more preserved and pleased (happier), more powerful and secure. More than a century later (after the publication of Hobbes’ Leviathan), the link or even unity between man and his property was subsequently elaborated by Adam Ferguson when and where in his An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) he explained, thus: “THE dispositions which tend to the preservation of the individual, while they continue to operate in the manner of instinctive desires, are nearly the same in man that they are in the other animals: But in him they are sooner or later combined with reflection and foresight; they give rise to his apprehensions on the subject of property, and make him acquainted with that object of care which he calls his interest. Without the instincts which teach the beaver and the squirrel, the ant and the bee, to make up their little hoards for winter, at first improvident, and, where no immediate object of passion is near, addicted to sloth, he becomes, in process of time, the great storemaster among animals. He finds in a provision of wealth, which he is probably never to employ, an object of his greatest solicitude, and the principal idol of his mind. He
apprehends a relation between his person and his property, which renders what he calls his own in a manner a part of himself, a constituent of his rank, his condition, and his character, in which, independent of any real enjoyment, he may be fortunate or unhappy; and, independent of any personal merit, he may be an object of consideration or neglect; and in which he may be wounded and injured, while his person is safe, and every want of his nature is completely supplied.” [italics and emphasis supplied]
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Under the third cause of quarrel (â€œgloryâ€?), man at times kill even for trifling reasons--glorifying oneself at the expense of anotherâ€™s life, like the biblical Cain who, apparently in a fit of jealousy, tried to glorify himself so much so that he even had to kill his only brother, Abel. In fact, more petty reasons may drive a man, say, to kill even a random passerby just for the thrill of doing so; or perhaps just because the innocent victim simply uttered a trivial and undirected word or made a momentary eye-to-eye contact that happened to irritate and provoke the trigger-happy killer; or more trivially because his face or hairstyle or manner of walking offended the sensibilities of the killer. Obviously again, in this context, a man thus unfortunately situated does have the natural right and duty to defend and preserve himself, assuming he does not die instantly, even if he has to kill such a thrill- or pleasure-seeking purveyor of death.
COMPETING GUN POLICIES A gun-control policy usually involves government regulation of civilians in terms of the ownership, possession, and carrying of guns and related accessories. The anti-gun policy rests on the theory that denying civilians easy access to guns minimizes the incidence of homicide and other violent crimes. In short, the underlying anti-gun principle is that guns kill; and, therefore, in order to minimize the incidence of killing, guns must not find their way, at least not easily, into the hands of civilians. Moreover, as a corollary, guns in the hands of civilians, who otherwise may typically be calm and sober, tend to engender a shorter emotional fuse to commit violent acts, the carriers thereof emboldened as they are with the explosive efficacy of such a piece of hardware. On the other hand, a pro-gun policy proceeds from the theory that people kill; and, therefore, with or without guns, if they decide to kill, they can always find a way to do so. Likewise, as a corollary, while a gun may be a sufficient instrument of death or of physical injury, the same is not a necessary
or not the only instrument for the attainment of that purpose. The criminal mind is not hobbled for want of creativity. As the proverbial saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Indeed, it cannot be said that there had been no homicides committed before the invention of the gun. Gun-control advocates want government to clamp down on gun manufacturers, sellers, and owners to the extent that no civilian citizen is allowed to carry guns. In short, their objective is to severely restrict the availability and the possession and/or carrying of guns. Their expectation is that, among others, less guns in circulation means less violent crimes; keeping guns out of the hands of criminals diminish or even prevent the occurrence of violent crimes; and owning a gun increases one’s risk of being killed. Theirs is a supply-reduction strategy. On the other side, the pro-gun advocates (e.g., the National Rifle Association of the United States) argue that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees each citizen the fundamental “right to keep and bear arms,” and that the same “shall not be infringed.” They support their pro-gun advocacy with empirical data showing that gun-control laws and/or regulations do not actually reduce violent crimes. They propose instead the imposition of mandatory sentences for persons who commit crimes with firearms; and which strategy, according to them, produces greater reduction in crime incidence, even as it requires less sacrifice on the part of the gun owners. Theirs is a demand-reduction strategy. (Retrieved from http://www.clifsnotes.com/study_guide/Does-Gun-Control-Reduce-Crime.topicArticleId10065-9923.html on 1 December 2012). Which policy is realistic, which is fictional? This is an empirical question, and data will soon and hereunder be brought to bear on this policy issue.
The Right to Arms: Offshoot of the Natural Right and Duty for Self-Preservation The instinct for self-preservation—of the species and of the individual--is the most fundamental of biological instincts. Those who survived the extended
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and continuing rigors of evolutionary competition are those which have adapted and/or armed themselves well to their harsh and hostile environments. For example, over time, the cactus has been driven by harsh and hostile environment to become more efficient in the use of water (dehydration is minimized due to the minimal presence of leaves), and has become more conserving of water absorbed from the arid desert environment because of its succulence, and has become more equipped to deter herbivorous mammals because of its plenitude of thorns; indeed it has become well adapted to and thus has become survivable in the desert environment. By the same token, the tiger or the lion has become well equipped by evolutionary forces with strong and speedy legs and with sharp unforgiving fangs to attack, capture, and devour, say, the less equipped and less armed but fleshy and tasty buffalo or antelope, their horns notwithstanding and to no avail. Moreover, in dire circumstances, the same fangy tools can be used to drive away or even kill another of its kind that intrudes into its haven, which intruder is instinctively seen as seeking to take a bite of prey and/or take a taste of the delicacy of female pudendum. Similarly, over the long stretch of time, a reptile evolved into, say, a viper that is now equipped not only with slick and stealth in its biology, but also the capacity to grizzle with dart-like venom-squirting fangs. Man, atop the evolutionary chain, bereft of fangs cum venom (except that of, say, the venom of greed, envy, and vainglory in his heart), and not allowed by nature to grow horns but invested instead with the chronic drive to get horny full many a day or night (needed to perpetuate the species) would have long ago been devoured and/or paralyzed to extinction by stronger and better bodily-endowed carnivores and/or by the great variety of venomous reptiles were it not for his intelligenceâ€”probably natureâ€™s ultimate and last weapon of self-preservation and species perpetuation. And so, necessarily and consequently, on account of his intelligence, in order to preserve and please himself beyond his natural anatomic endowment, in order to overcome the physical advantages of the beasts and the reptiles, he
armed himself first with rocks and clubs (say, a broken branch of a tree), then he abraded some stones against each other to make them pointed; and when metals became available, he fabricated lances, spears, arrows, and knives; and then he invented the gunpowder and of course the related guns, cannons, and explosives. Now, man has at his fingertips modern and sophisticated weapons of self-preservation (or, of destruction) like the fission and fusion bombs, chemical and poison bombs—all deliverable by sophisticated warplanes, cannons, rockets, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), etc. Of course, man qua individual, would likely not fire a cruise missile to defend himself, let alone detonate a fusion bomb, but most probably he would take hold of a knife or preferably a gun to defend himself and/or his wife or children—or at times to preserve and please the pleasing and coveted wife of his neighbor. He who neglects, fails or refuses to prepare himself to compete versus the harsh elements of nature—the geophysical (typhoons, droughts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, temperature fluctuations, etc.) and the biological threats (beasts, brutes, venomous reptiles, bacterial and viral attackers, etc), or against the hostile elements of his kind (murderers and other felons) has no choice but to live, nay, simply exist at the mercy of the better prepared or armed, or just perish outright, and deservedly so. Plotinus (205-270 AD), the Egyptian-born Greek philosopher, in his Third Ennead (Mortimer J. Adler, Editor in Chief (1996), Great Books of the Western World, Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.) illustrated this concept as follows: “A gang of lads, morally neglected, and in that respect inferior to the intermediate class, but in good physical training, attack and throw another set, trained neither physically nor morally, and make off with their food and their dainty clothes. What more is called for than a laugh?
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“And surely even the lawgiver would be right in allowing the second group to suffer this treatment, the penalty of their sloth and selfindulgence; the gymnasium lies there before them, and they, in laziness and luxury and listlessness, have allowed themselves to fall like fatloaded sheep, prey to the wolves.”
Discussing further and driving home the point, Plotinus expatiated: “This at once brings us outside the gymnasium with its fun for boys; they must grow up, both kinds, amid their childishness and both one day stand girt and armed. Then there is the finer spectacle that is ever seen by those that train in the ring. But at this stage some have armed themselves—and the duly armed win the day. Not even a God would have the right to deal a blow for the unwarlike: the law decrees that to come out safe out of battle is for fighting men, not for those that pray. The harvest comes home not for praying but for tilling; healthy days are not for those that neglect their health; we have no right to complain of the ignoble getting the richer harvest if they are the only workers in the fields, or the best.” [italics supplied]
In ancient Greece, two famous philosophers agreed on the necessity to keep and bear arms for survival, for self-preservation. However, they differed in respect to the situs of ownership or possession, that is, as to who could and should carry arms. Plato (428-348BCE) conceived of the ideal city-state, as formulated in The Republic (Book V) [Mortimer J. Adler, Editor in Chief (1996), Great Books of the Western World, Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.] whereat he proposed the concentration of arms and therefore social power and control in the central authoritarian government. According to him, the concept of self qua individual as a basic social unit must be abolished; and consequently therefore, individual freedom—like the freedom/right to bear arms for self-defense—was
to be deemed of no meaning, no value. For the good of the State and security thereof, arms must not be placed in the possession and hands of the individual person. Plato’s philosophy was that the presence of an “unarmed population was essential in order to maintain an orderly society.” The good of the state must override all other considerations. In fact, as a corollary, he even proposed that all wives and children be held in common by the State, and that the time to engage in sexual intercourse in order to produce a superior breed of progeny be determined by government authorities. Not surprisingly, he proposed that abortion be deemed legal; even as children deemed inferior were to be collected and quarantined in a special place. On the other hand, Aristotle (384-322BCE), Plato’s pupil, espoused a different philosophy which was more democratic. In his Politics (Book II,
Chapter 8) [Mortimer J. Adler, Editor in Chief (1996), Great Books of the Western World, Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.], Aristotle conceptualized a relatively democratic city-state (Hippodamus) which was ruled by the citizens (the artisans, the husbandmen, and the armed defenders (the warriors). Aristotle’s philosophy was that “the bearing of arms was a basic requirement of true citizenship”—meaning that, at least a certain class of citizens had the individual right to arms, that is, to own, possess and carry the same. During the Middle Ages, the ownership, possession, and carrying of arms was seen as a social obligation rather than as an exercise and/or expression of individual natural right. What gained currency at that time was the obligation of the subject to be armed in order to be ready to defend the state, the kingdom, the social order—rather than in order to be ready to defend and preserve his person. But, on hindsight, this distinction appears trivial as seen from the viewpoint of the individual, because he who is carrying a weapon is certainly much better prepared to make a defensive action, whether directed towards the preservation of the state and/or social order or directly intended to protect himself in case of necessity.
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The Assize of Arms of 1181 which was issued and proclaimed by King Henry II of England obliged certain classes of persons to swear allegiance to the king and to bear arms on pain of “vengeance, not merely on their lands or chattels, but on their limbs.” However, the assize, among others, restricted weapon ownership by the Jews (Wikipedia, 25 November 2012). But even so, despite and notwithstanding this discriminatory civil law restriction, the Jews did not in any way lose their natural right and duty to defend and preserve themselves with any and all possible weapons available to them in moments of necessity. It was just a twist of bad luck on their part that, simply because of their Jewish blood, they were denied the facility of defending and preserving themselves with the lawful use of arms. Nature dictates that life is valuable so much so that a man faced with the imminent danger of injury or even death coming from the direction of an aggressor would not mind at all defending and protecting himself with any weapon that he can take hold of, at the spur of the moment, never mind and no matter that he stands to be punished for using, say, a prohibited weapon. Indeed, the need to preserve one’s life trumps any and all legal niceties or inanities. And yet, notwithstanding this natural necessity and/or right of self preservation, in 1328, the Statute of Northampton—arguably the ancestor of contemporary gun-control laws—was issued and proclaimed by the apparently insecure English King Edward III, and which statute reads relevantly in part as follows, to quote: “Item, it is enacted, that no man great nor small, of what condition soever he be, except the king's servants in his presence, and his ministers in executing of the king's precepts, or of their office, and such as be in their company assisting them, and also [upon a cry made for arms to keep the peace, and the same in such places where such acts happen,] be so hardy to come before the King's justices, or other of the King's ministers doing their office, with force and arms, nor bring no
force in affray of the peace, nor to go nor ride armed by night nor by day, in fairs, markets, nor in the presence of the justices or other ministers, nor in no part elsewhere, upon pain to forfeit their armour to the King, and their bodies to prison at the King's pleasure” (retrieved on 25 November 2012 from http://press-pubs_uchicago_edu/founders/ documents/amendIIs1.html).
Later on, this arms-restriction provision was made more stringent by the “tyrannical” King Richard II who re-enacted the said Statute but with the sole focus on the prohibition of “going or riding armed, that is, regardless of an affray of the peace” (retrieved on 25 November 2012 from David I. Caplan, “The Right of the Individual to Bear Arms: A Recent Judicial Trend,” http:// www.saf.org/Journal/1/individualcaplan.htm). Subsequently, however, this stringent prohibition got watered down in the English Bill of Rights of 1689 which was enacted by the Parliament that recognized; and then codified, among others, a slew of “ancient rights and liberties”—some of which are self-evidently immanent and natural individual rights, like that to defend/preserve oneself and necessarily to bear arms therefor. The Bill, an act intended as it was “for the vindicating and asserting their [the English subjects] ancient rights and liberties” declared as follows, to wit: “That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;” (retrieved from http://www.constitution.org/eng/eng_bor.htm on 26 November 2012).
Viewed from the perspective of individual rights, this provision of the Bill significantly departs from that of the aforementioned Statute of Northampton in that: first, the bearing of arms on the part of the subject is now deemed simply as an exercise of his personal freedom rather than as an obligation imposed
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upon him by the state, and second, the primary purpose thereof is now for his personal “defence,” albeit suitable to his life’s conditions, rather than for the defense of the state and/or social order. In this respect, sometime in 1765, the English jurist, William Blackstone, wrote in his Commentaries on the Laws of England that “the right to bear arms” is a “natural right of the [English] subject.” He explained that the right to bear arms proceeds from “the natural right of resistance and selfpreservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.” Not long after that, across the Atlantic, in convention assembled, the framers of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution (“the right of the people to keep and bear arms”) never even considered putting at issue a man’s need to have arms for self defense. In this regard, the Wikipedia (26 November 2012) reports, thus: “Peoples all around the world since time immemorial had armed themselves for the protection of themselves and others, and as organized nations began to appear these arrangements had been extended to the protection of the state.” Evidently it must be so because the existence of man qua individual is antecedent to that of the polity (the state) or society. Without men, qua individual natural persons—alive, healthy, and well preserved as they ought to be—no state or society (artificial person) can ever subsequently come to existence, and stay vigorously alive. A strong and well preserved state can proceed only and only from a cohesion of strong and well preserved individuals—not from a mere aggregation of the unwilling and unarmed, and therefore unable to defend and preserve themselves. Thus, in this respect, Patrick Henry, in the Virginia ratification convention, June 5, 1788, eloquently argued for the dual rights to arms and
resistance to oppression: “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined” (retrieved on 26 November 2012 from http://thinkexist.com/ quotation/guard_with_jealous_attention_the_public_liberty/154035.html).
The recognition of this fundamental natural right got resonated in the five-volume work of Saint George Tucker (1803)--law professor at William and Mary, Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, friend of Thomas Jefferson, and considered as the Blackstone of America—wherein he asserted in his Blackstone's Commentaries: With Notes of Reference to the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Government of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Virginia (Philadelphia, 1803. Reprint. South Hackensack, N.J.: Rothman Reprints, 1969), that the right to keep and bear arms “may be considered as the true palladium of liberty…The right of self
defence is the first law of nature…” [italics supplied] Thus, according to Tucker, the individual right of “self defence” and necessarily therefore the right to keep and bear arms is not only the first law of nature but also the bulwark, indeed the palladium of liberty. Tucker expounded further as follows, to quote: “xxx in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.”
Frederic Bastiat, the 19th century French economist and political philosopher, in his The Law (1850) held that the right to self preservation is a
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“gift from God,” and the same is of primordial existential importance. explained as follows, to quote:
“Life, faculties, production—in other words, individuality, liberty, property—this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.” “Each of us has a natural right—from God—to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?” (Retrieved on 30 December 2012 from http;// www.bastiat.org.)
Further, according to Bastiat,“ every person has the right to defend even by force—his person, his liberty, and his property.” The law, as he conceptualized it, is “the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.” Likewise, according to him, since the law—this collective right—is nothing but an organized offshoot of these individual rights, then the law lawmakers and/or enforcers thereof (the “common force”) have no right either, outside the ambit of law, to subvert or derogate the fundamental individual rights to life, liberty, and property. In this regard, in his aforementioned book, he expounded as follows, to wit: “The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.”
The interdependent coexistence between and among these three constitutive elements of human life—life, liberty and property, and the instinctive need to preserve the same even by the use of force or arms--had been in modern times adumbrated a little less than a century earlier on by American political philosophers like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine. In this respect, Franklin declared that “they that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety;” thereafter Jefferson resonated that “no free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms;” even as Paine, in the same vein and at about the same time, declared thus, to quote: “These people are either too superstitiously religious, or too cowardly for arms; they either can not or dare not defend ; their property is open to anyone who has the courage to attack them... The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms, like law, discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. And while a single nation refuses to lay them down, it is proper that all should keep them up. Horrid mischief would ensue were one-half the world deprived of the use of them; for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become a prey to the strong. The history of every age and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments when they prove themselves.” (Retrieved on 31 December 2012 from “Thomas Paine” http://www.en,wikiquote.org/wiki/ Thomas_Paine).
In this connection, it is apropos to recall that during Nazi Germany, Hitler forbade the Jews to possess weapons under threat and/or penalty of death. Coupled with their meekness and disinclination to armed resistance, the
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unarmed Jews necessarily became weak and passive prey to the agents of Hitler’s tyranny; hence about six million of them were gassed and/or slaughtered to death. They had relied on the belief or even faith that, with their appeasing or even slavish stance, the crocodile (Hitler) would eat them last, if at all. They were fatally mistaken, and so was Neville Chamberlain, who with his appeasing foreign policy ceded Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia) to Nazi Germany (Munich Agreement, 1938). Thus, after having learned the costly and bloody lessons of the ensuing Second World War, particularly of the Holocaust, Winston Churchill went on to conclude: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last” (retrieved on 31 December 2012 from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/winston_churchill. html). But, of course, this lesson is or should be a self-evident proposition, given that even an unknown sage is reported to have concluded thus: “Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who don’t.” It would have been bad and sad enough that the aforementioned Jewish victims of the Holocaust were simply allowed to live, nay, exist to plow slavishly for Hitler, but it was much sadder indeed that nothing less than their mass extermination appeased, albeit only for a while, the insatiable tyrant-crocodile who subsequently went on a rampage to devour the whole of Europe, except Russia and Great Britain. Fortunately for democracy, in the context of such a Darwinian struggle, the superior force of freedom-loving peoples from both sides of the Atlantic (that of the Allied Powers) eventually prevailed. It was well and good that it was not too late in the day for them to hearken to the much earlier counsel of George Washington (in his First Annual Address to Congress, 8 January 1790) that “a free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined …” (retrieved on 31 December 2012 from “http://www.pbs.org/ georgewashington/collection/other_1790jan8.html). Not too long ago, this basic existential need of man to preserve himself—and therefore fundamental right for his personal protection--was eloquently re-articulated by Congressman Cliff Stearns of the United States
House of Representatives. In a published paper (“The Heritage of our Right to Bear Arms”, St. Louis University Public Law Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, 1999:13) he asserted as follows, to quote: “Personal protection, the right to defend oneself and others, is another source of the right to be armed. I see this as the most fundamental right. Any creature, from insect to human, has the natural drive for self preservation. No individual should ever be denied the ability to defend his or herself against unwarranted harm. Yes, criminals can be dragged from their homes, held against their will, and punished by the courts. Unwarranted harm, however, is what criminals inflict upon their victims. Safeguarding citizens against such transgressions is an elemental responsibility of societies and the governments they establish. Societies and governments must not deny an individual the means for self defense.” (retrieved from Sterns1.htm on 29 November 2012).
However, in this connection, let it be emphasized that, like any other right, the right to keep and bear arms is not absolute. Obviously there are those who ought not to keep, let alone bear or carry arms. And, who are they? Congressman Stearns answers as follows, to wit: “Would I place no restrictions on gun ownership? Of course criminals, children, and the mentally ill should not be armed. Having a weapon is a right unless you have surrendered that right through misdeed or misfortune. For law-abiding citizens of age, gun ownership is an individual decision, and millions have decided to exercise this right.”
This principle is now firmly recognized in jurisprudence. Indeed, the right to keep and bear arms is a personal or individual right rather than a collective right, say, of the militia, the police force or the army. This is the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller,
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554 U.S. 570 (2008) wherein it was held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. This individual fundamental right was reaffirmed in Otis McDonald, et al., Petitioners v. City of Chicago, Illinois, et al., Supreme Court of the United States, No. 08-1521, June 28, 2010 where it was held that “…it is clear the Framers and ratifiers of the Fourteenth Amendment counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.”
Gun-Control Laws & Regulations: The Indications of Anecdotal Evidence Notwithstanding the fact that the right to keep and bear arms is a natural and/or fundamental existential right, evidently the same does not entitle everyone to keep and bear or carry arms. As pointed out earlier on, the criminal (the convict) or the mentally ill or the child should not be allowed to own, let alone possess or carry arms. Equivalently, all the others—adults who are neither criminals nor mentally and/or emotionally defective—are, on ground of this basic natural right, entitled to keep and bear arms. However, various jurisdictions, while not infringing the same, have instituted a slew of gun control laws and/or regulations with varying strictness. Offhand, it can be said that there is a lot of emotionality and/or kneejerk reactions involved in the enactment of such laws/regulations—especially on the part of some citizens who are voluble and vociferous and who are by nature averse to arms, especially explosives and firearms. Their main thesis, viewed from a psychological perspective, is that placing the same beyond the reach and hands of the civilian population significantly decreases the individual’s tendency to use the same in a conflict situation and/or in a bloody or even
deathly encounter. Almost equivalently, they theorize that guns placed in the hands of typically normal, sane, and law-abiding civilians would ipso facto make them criminal minded, more likely to commit violent crimes. Now, what do bits and pieces of evidence show? First off, it is pertinently interesting to mention that, as this is being written, the whole world is shocked and saddened by news of the mass shooting of school children and teachers in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, USA; and, not long after, the mass killing perpetrated by a gunman cum accomplice in Cavite, Philippines. Expectedly and almost instinctively the anti-gun advocates are again raising a hue and cry for stricter gun-control laws and regulations. The key question is: will or did such a strict gun policy and/or strict implementation thereof ever deter or minimize violent crimes? No, not at all, according to John R. Lott Jr. and William M. Landes (2000). Using dataset that extended until 1999 and included a number of public shootings, they concluded in this wise: â€œthe only policy factor to have a consistently significant influence on multiple victim public shootings is the passage of concealed handgun laws.â€? They further explained why public shootings are more sensitive than other violent crimes to concealed handguns, and why such laws (allowing carrying of concealed handguns) reduce the number of shootings and have an even greater effect on their severity. Guns in the hands of criminals do indeed kill people; and quite naturally this is a very visible unpleasant phenomenon, usually covered and reported or even sensationalized by mass media facilities.
On the other hand, the big
beneficial effect of ownership and/or possession or use of guns among the noncriminal civilians for their self-protection is not much known to the public. A life and/or property saved because of the defensive use or even only threat of use of a gun on the part of a targeted victim or his relative or friend is something that is rarely, if at all, brought to the fore of media reportageâ€”and therefore, quite unfortunately, not much known and recognized, not much valued by the public at large.
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In this connection, Gary Kleck, a criminology professor at Florida State University, extrapolated from the 5,000 households he surveyed in his National Self-Defense Survey (1994), and estimated that “in 1993 there were approximately 2.5 million incidents in which victims used guns for selfprotection [“defensive gun use”], an average of 4.75 times per minute for each minute of the year, compared to about four hundred thousand crimes committed by offenders with guns” (retrieved from http://www.en.wikipedia.org/Gary_Kleck#cite_note11 on 17 December 2012). However, there are some critics who conclude that the defensive uses of guns are far less than Kleck’s estimates. For example, Hemenway (1997), imputing overestimation error on Kleck’s study, states that “the criminal use of guns is far more common than self-defense use of guns.” Similarly, Cook and Ludwig (1997) arrive at the conclusion that “defensive gun uses occur at a dramatically lower magnitude than that found by Kleck.” In rebuttal, Kleck and Kates (2001) emphasize the fact that “a far larger number of surveys (at least 20) have shown that defensive uses outnumbered criminal uses” ((retrieved from http://www.en.wikipedia.org/Gary_Kleck#cite_note-11 on 17 December 2012). The author’s take on this argument is that it does not matter much that the criminal outnumber the defensive uses of guns or vice versa but that there is a significant nonzero number of defensive uses, and this number is all that matters. After all, a life saved or protected by the use of a gun—even if only one--is or should be deemed significant. In this respect, even the numbers propounded by the critics themselves show that such a number is significantly greater than zero. Cook and Ludwig (1997), citing a National Crime Victim Survey, report that, at the time said survey was conducted, the estimated number of defensive uses of guns (DGUs) was 108,000 per year. Rand (1994) reports a smaller number, albeit still much greater than zero, thus: “on average in 1987-92 about 83,000 crime victims per year used a firearm to defend themselves or their property.” Obviously, no matter which was the more
realistic number, it is significant to note that the same (more or less 100 thousand) represented either the number of violent crimes thwarted and/or the number of lives saved or deaths avoided due to the defensive use of a gun. Equivalently, if not for DGUs, the total number of violent crimes committed would have been morbidly more in magnitude.
THE SHOWING OF MORE RECENT EVIDENCE Self-evident as it is, man has the natural right of self-preservation or self -defense, and necessarily therefore has the right to bear arms and to use the same for this purpose. Man, like all other terrestrial beings, exists in a harsh and hostile Darwinian ecology where he has to struggle and survive not only against other beings of other species, but also more particularly and exigently compete against every other man (essentially for scarce resources) in a Hobbesian state of perpetual war. And, over time, evolutionary necessity has seen to it that, since the primeval days of bare-knuckles combat, man has learned to progressively and much more effectively and efficiently wage war with arms of varying efficacy and sophistication. The annals of history unerringly tell the story that there is no natural force, let alone man-made artifice (e.g., civil law or regulation), that can stem the tide, let alone reverse this flow of evolutionary necessity. Verily, weapons of whatever sort and capacity will always be within armâ€™s-lengthâ€”no matter and never mind that the same may be deemed legal or not by civil authorities. Moreover, even if such a perfect civil artifice were to miraculously emerge in the real world to cause the total disappearance of all weapons of all sorts from the surface of the earth, then man would still have to compete and struggle versus each otherâ€”and fight with nothing but his naked and brutish physical and natural paraphernalia. And full many a man would nonetheless and still kill or die a violent death, in the name of self-preservation or self-defense. The stronger men would survive, even as the strongest of them all would rule and reign supreme.
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So, in the face of this cold and grim reality, if guns and other firearms cannot be banned or banished totally and actually from arm’s-length, then what is the point of some men futilely trying to do what is practically impossible, that is, of trying to move against man’s own natural tendency, against his basic instinct? Apparently, there is no point at all, except perhaps to levitate in the giddy heights of romantic idealism. Harsh reality must be confronted with practical means. Well, for a practical response, maybe there is a point in regulating this natural tendency and making the same as much as possible in sync with that of every other man’s instinctive need for self-preservation and/or self-defense. Over time and across a variety of jurisdictions, civil authorities have crafted a number of regulatory structures regarding the ownership, possession, and bearing or carrying of arms, particularly of guns and related firearms—ranging from the very strict civilian total-gun-ban structure (where only state authorities like the police and the military are allowed to bear arms) to the permissive civilian concealed-carrying of licensed guns (where qualified civilians are allowed to bear concealed licensed guns outside of residence). Bits and pieces of evidence can be shown that some such structures are more successful than others, in respect to deterring the occurrence of violent crimes.
In-Country Evidence: The USA Experience In view of the ready availability of data, the experience of the United States of America (USA), across its constituent states, is chosen by this author to test the hypothesis that a statutory and/or related regulatory policy of severely restricting the civilian ownership, possession, and carrying of guns is at least correlated with or even causative of a higher incidence of violent crimes. Moreover, seen from the anti-gun viewpoint, gun density (among the state inhabitants) is theorized to positively correlate (at least) with the incidence of violent crimes. Equivalently, the expectation is that the more guns that are in
possession and/or in the hands of the civilians predispose them to commit violent crimes. The dataset and the analyses thereof proceed hereunder as follows: The Dependent Variable(s).
The incidence of violent crimes is
indicated by the following crimes rates (per 100,000 thousand inhabitants) reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for the year 2011, and for this study, the following rates are selected and adopted from said source, namely: total violent crime rate, murder and non-negligent manslaughter (homicide), forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault (retrieved on 10 January 2013 from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s./2011/crime-inthe-u.s.-2011/tables/table-5). The Independent Variables. In view of data limitations and analytic considerations, only the variables mentioned and described in this section are chosen to compose the set of independent variables for this study. The variation as regards the coverage or extent of applicability of permits to carry concealed guns is indicated by the scale/data published in the website “Concealed Carry Permit Information By State” (retrieved on 8 January 2013 from http://www.usacarry.com/concealed_carry_permit_information.html). The scale is calibrated as follows: 1 = right denied, 2 = may issue to residents only, 3 = may issue to residents and non-residents, 4 = shall issue to residents only, and 5 = shall issue to residents and non-residents. As shown, the calibration proceeds from the most stringent and restrictive state (code value = 1) and ends at the most lax state and with widest coverage of gun-carry permit (code value = 5). These data are adopted for this study. Two indicators of gun density in the population are considered. The first is the rankings of the states in respect to the ratio of “background checks” relative to the state population. These rankings are obtained from the website “The Most Armed States”, The Daily Beast (retrieved from http:// www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/06/28/states-with-the-most-guns.html on 11 January 2013. The rankings are based on background checks performed by
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the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and based on gun-purchasing transactions done in 2009. The order of ranking is such that the state with the greatest density of background checks is assigned a rank of 1, 2 for the next lower, and sequentially thereafter in decreasing order of ranks. The second indicator of gun density used for this study is the percentage of gun owners relative to the state population. These percentages are obtained from the website “About.com US Liberal Politics” (retrieved from http://www.usliberalsabout.com/od/Election2012Factors/a/Gun -Owners-AsPercentage-Of-Each-Population.htm on 11 January 2013. These two indicators are expected to be significantly correlated but with opposite signs in view of the fact that the orders of magnitudes of their respective code values are oppositely directed and of different natures, that is, one is ordinal (from 1st to the lowest rank) while the other is that of ratio numbers (percentages). Essentially, however, both indicators are expected to yield the same sort of information. And, true enough, the calculated Pearson correlation coefficient between the two appears significant with the expected negative sign (r = -0.769, p = .000, 2-tailed). However, in the actual analysis of data, in order to make the interpretation of the coefficients more intuitive and less confusing, the ranks are reversed such that the 1 st denotes the state with the least number of guns; and the 51st, the state with the most number of guns. The occurrence of violent crimes is theorized to be not just a function of gun-related variables (e.g., the availability of guns and their being permitted to be carried outside of residence), but also related to some socio-economic variables like illiteracy rate and unemployment or poverty rate among the population or inhabitants. Hence, these variables are likewise included in this study. Apparently, there is no available set of comparative data on state literacy rates of fairly recent vintage. In view of the author’s inability to locate such data, if any, he instead makes use of the comparative data (for the years 1992 and 2003) published in the website “State & County Estimates of Low
Literacy,” National Assessment of Adult Literacy, National Center for Education Statistics (retrieved from http://www.nces.ed.gov/naal/estimates/StateEstimates.aspx on 11 January 2013). Actually, only the 2003 illiteracy variable is included in the relationship analysis. Nevertheless, the 1992 data are mentioned herein because the same are inputted into preliminary statistical analysis, in order to test the viability of using the said 2003 data as proxy for, say, year 2010 or 2011—under the expectation that the relative ordering of the states in respect to illiteracy rates is generally invariant over a decade or so. The underlying ratiocination is that: if there is a significant positive correlation between the 1992 data versus the 2003 data, which are temporally separated by a distance of 11 years, then it is likely that a similar significant positive correlation exists between the 2003 data versus a set of, as yet unknown (to the author), 2010 or 2011 illiteracy state data. If so, then this 2003 illiteracy variable must be a valid proxy for, say, a 10-year younger variable. The unemployment rate is likewise conceptualized to relate to the incidence of violent crimes. The unemployment rates by state (as of June 2011) are obtained from the website “Unemployment Rate by State”, About.com, US Liberal Politics (retrieved on 11 January 2013 from http:// www.usliberals.about.com/od/Election2012Factors/a/Unemployment-By-State2011.htm). Obviously related to the unemployment rate is the poverty rate among the state population. The poverty rates by state (as of June 2011) are likewise obtained from the website “Poverty Level Persons by State”, About.com US Liberal Politics (retrieved on 11 January 2013 from http://www.usliberals.about.com/od/ Election2012Factors/a/Poverty-Level-Households-By-State.htm).
Results of Bivariate Analyses: The Pearson Correlation Coefficients The results of the bivariate Pearson correlation analyses are shown in Table 1.
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Table 1. Pearson Correlation Coefficients Between the Independent Variables (IVs) on One Hand and the Dependent Variables (DVs) on the Other, n =50 Independent Variable
Dependent Variable homicide
Gun density1 (% of population)
total violent crime -0.092 (.096)
Gun density2 (51st = most guns)
Illiteracy rate (2003)
Total unemployment rate (2010)
Poverty rate (2010)
**significant at the .01 level; *significant at the .05 level; NOTE: The significance levels (2-tailed) are enclosed in parentheses.
Four independent variables (IV) appear significantly correlated with total crime rate (2011), namely: “concealed-gun carry” (r = -0.385, p = .005), 2003 illiteracy rates (r = 0.512, p = .000), 2010 total unemployment rate (r = 0.303, p = .031), and 2010 poverty rate ( r = 0.305, p = .031). As expected, at least by this author, the “concealed gun-carry” appears with a significant negative coefficient—meaning that states with lax laws and regulations allowing the carrying of concealed guns have lower incidence of violent crimes. Also, as widely expected, illiteracy rate, total unemployment rate and poverty rate
appear with significant positive coefficients—meaning that these variables probably predispose the occurrence of violent crimes. The two indicators of gun density (the percentage measure and the ranking measure) appear not significant—meaning that gun density in the population neither predisposes nor deters the occurrence of violent crimes. However, a look at the component specific crimes shows something interesting—and contrasting.
Gun density appears significantly positively
correlated with the occurrence of rape—meaning that rape is more likely to occur in a place where there is a higher density of guns. Now, what is interesting and contrasting is that gun density also appears significantly negatively correlated with the incidence of robbery—meaning that robbery is less likely to occur in a state of higher gun density. The implied policy choice seems difficult, since it is something like making a choice between Scylla and Charybdis or that between the devil and the deep blue sea. Would or should it be rape or robbery? Which is the lesser or more tolerable evil? Anyway, as shown above, gun density likewise appears unrelated to homicide rate (murder and non-negligent manslaughter) and aggravated assault. The gun-policy variable “concealed gun-carry” appears to have significant deterrent effect against the occurrence of homicide and robbery, even as it appears unrelated to the incidence of rape and aggravated assault.
Results of Multiple Regression Analyses: The B and β Coefficients The specification of the multiple regression equation takes into account that the number of cases is just 51, the number of USA states including the District of Colombia. Hence, the desideratum of parsimony (the need to use Occam’s razor) dictates that only a few IVs (regressors) must be specified into the equation, especially if some IVs are multicollinear.
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Thus, only one gun density indicator is to be included in the equation. Also, in view of the likelihood that unemployment and/or poverty is a function of illiteracy, then only one or a smaller combination of the three needs to be included in the specification. The results of preliminary correlation analyses indicate which IVs are to be used as regressors. As regards the gun density indicators, as shown above, the two are significantly correlated (r = -0.769, p = .000, 2-tailed). Now, in light of the showing that, as shown in Table 1, “total crime rate” appears to have a larger covariance (5.5%) with “gun density2” (rankings), as opposed to only 0.85% with “gun density1”, then the former gets to be included in the equation. Further preliminary analyses show that the three other IVs, namely: the illiteracy rate (2003), the total unemployment rate (2010), and the poverty rate (2010) are significantly intercorrelated. Their pairwise correlation coefficients are as follows: poverty rate versus illiteracy rate (r = 0.424, p = .002, 2-tailed), poverty rate versus total unemployment rate (r = 0.342, p = .015, 2-tailed), and illiteracy rate versus total unemployment rate (r = 0.450, p = .001, 2tailed). In this light, and given that there are only 51 cases, the number of regressors (IVs included in the equation) need not go beyond three (3). Thus, the search for and/or specification of a 3-regressor equation cum the greatest explanatory power (adjusted R square) is in order. Such equations (e.g., regression of total crime rate) appear to be what are shown in Table 2. The advantage of a multivariate analysis (e.g., multiple regression) such as those done under Table 2 is that the concurrent interrelationships between and among the regressors are taken into account. Under this sort of analysis, what usually happens is that a dominant regressor masks the effect, if any, of a weaker intercorrelated variable. Thus, as shown in Table 2, the regressor “illiteracy rate” evidently dominates the other two regressors, namely: “gun density2” and “concealed-gun carry”—both in terms of the number of significant relationships (4), and in terms of the relative magnitudes (absolute values) of
the β coefficients of the component regressors in a particular equation, where it is seen that the “illiteracy rate” βs are much larger than those of either “gun density2” or “concealed-gun carry.” Table 2. Regression of Crimes Rates on the Gun Policy Variables and Illiteracy Rate (N = 51) total crime rate Independent Variable (Constant)
Gun density2 (ranks2)
Illiteracy rate Adjusted R Square
*significant at .05 level (2-tailed); **significant at .01 level (2-tailed) NOTE: The 2-tailed significance levels are enclosed in parentheses. Cases with missing values are excluded pairwise. The variate values of “gun density2” are the reverse of the original such that, say, the 1st rank that originally denoted the state with the most number of guns is now transformed to the 51 st, and so on and so forth.
At first blush, the policy implication appears clear, that is, that, by and large, the total violent crime rate and most component crime rates thereof (those of homicide, robbery, aggravated assault) can be whittled down significantly by decreasing the population illiteracy rate. However, it appears clear that the downside of this policy option is that it is long-acting. It takes
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quite a long time (a number of years) before some kind of a literacy-enhancing program can bear fruit in terms of lower illiteracy rate. On the other hand, the effects, if any, of the herein conceptualized gun policy variables (gun density and concealed-gun carry) can be had not long after the enactment and implementation of the appropriate gun law and/or regulation or even lack thereof. It is for this purpose that the next set of regression analyses is done. This time “total unemployment rate” and “poverty rate” are specified into the equation in lieu of “illiteracy rate.” Likewise, “gun density2” is excluded from the specification of the equation, in favor of “concealed-gun carry,” because of the latter’s theoretical and observed greater effectiveness in deterring violent crimes (see Tables 1 and 2). The results of these regression analyses are shown in Table 3. In terms of the criterion of “total crime rate,” the specification of the equations shown in Table 3 appears to have a slightly smaller explanatory power (adjusted R2 = 0.24), compared to the 0.27 of the previous specification as shown in Table 2. But what is remarkable is that, in terms of the criterion of “homicide,” the Table 3 specification (adjusted R 2 = 0.48) is much more explanatory (almost twice greater) than that shown in Table 2 (adjusted R 2 = 0.25). Moreover, under this specification, the gun-policy variable “concealedgun carry” appears significant with the negative sign in respect to three (3) specific crimes, namely: homicide, robbery, and grave assault. In layman’s language, it can be said that a place like the US where people are allowed to carry a concealed gun is a place where the incidence of violent crimes like homicide, robbery, and grave assault is relatively smaller, even after isolating the extraneous effects of the rates of unemployment and poverty in the population. This finding supports the theoretical expectation (of the author, at least) that the carrying of a concealed gun significantly deters the occurrence of violent crimes, particularly homicide, robbery, and grave assault.
Table 3. Regression of Crimes Rates on “Concealed-Gun Carry” & Other Variables (n = 51) Independent Variable
total crime rate B β
Poverty rate Adjusted R Square
*significant at .05 level (2-tailed); **significant at .01 level (2-tailed); NOTE: The 2tailed significance levels are enclosed in parentheses. Cases with missing values are excluded pairwise.
Now, why should the carrying of a concealed gun deter the commission of a violent crime? The psychological explanation seems or it should be obvious—that of mutual deterrence. When, for example, two sane and rational persons are armed and both know of that fact and/or appreciate the likelihood or even only the perception or expectation that both are so armed, then that is when it is less likely that one would even think of inflicting harm upon the other, let alone actually doing so. The mutual deterrence proceeds from the common thought or even simply the thought of a costly Pyrrhic victory on the part of the surviving combatant, not to mention a gory endgame of mutual destruction. This theoretical formulation appears significantly consistent with the evidence as shown above.
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Inter-Country Evidence: The Worldwide Data The specification of the multiple regression equation involving the worldwide data includes the following variables defined hereunder as follows: The Dependent Variable (DV). The conceptualized dependent variable is intentional homicide rate. The rate is in terms of the number of homicides committed per 100,000 people. The data for this DV are those gathered and organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) sometime in 2012. The bulk of the data covers the period 2008 through 2011, although the same is dominated by 2008 data. In a few cases, some data date as far back as 2005. The dataset is retrieved from the website “List of countries by intentional homicide rate” http://www.en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate on 22 January 2013. The Independent Variables (IVs) or Regressors. The independent variables (IVs) or regressors are as follows: The focus of this study is gun policy, and therefore the primary IV or regressor is gun density in the population. Hence, guns per capita is constructed for this purpose, and it indicates the density of guns in the country population. The rate is in terms of the number of guns owned by the civilian population per one hundred (100) people. The data for this variable are retrieved on 22 January 2013 from “Number of guns per capita by country,” http://www.en. Wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_country. The other IVs included in the equation and hereunder defined serve essentially as control variables. There is the intuitive expectation that criminality rate—in this study, intentional homicide rate—is a function of some socio-economic phenomena like illiteracy rate, unemployment rate, and poverty rate. It is commonsensical to believe that those who are illiterate, unemployed, and impoverished are more likely to commit violent crimes like homicide or murder. In this respect, preliminary analyses of data show that in fact these three variables are
intercorrelated, and that literacy rate appears with the strongest and most significant Pearson correlation with the aforementioned homicide rate (DV). Hence, for the sake of explanatory parsimony, only literacy rate 2011 is specified into the equation, even as the same, given said intercorrelatedness, also serves as the proxy for both the unemployment and poverty rates. These 2011 literacy rate data are retrieved on 22 January 2013from “List of countries by literacy rates,” http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_literacy_rate. Homicide rate is likewise theorized to be a function of the extent of income inequality that obtains in the population. For this purpose, the 2011 gini coefficients (including those of earlier years since 1995) are used to serve as the variate values of this IV or regressor. These data are retrieved on 22 January 2013 from the website “List of countries by income equality,” http:// www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality. In a country where the rule of law abides and where he who commits a crime is most likely to be promptly and justly prosecuted, convicted, and punished--the incidence of criminality, especially that of violent crimes, is expected to be low. Hence, the IV or regressor rule of law 2011 is included in the equation. The 2011 data for this IV or regressor are retrieved on 22 January 2013 from “Rule of Law,” The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) Project, http://www.info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.asp. The form of government is also expected to relate to the incidence of violent crimes (homicide) especially in respect to the belief that countries that are governed by nondemocratic or dictatorial rulers have a lower incidence of such crimes. The data for this IV or regressor are retrieved on 21 January 2013 from the website “List of countries by system of government,” http:// www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_system_of_government. The forms of government are coded as follows: 1 = full presidential, with or without prime minister; 2 = semi-presidential and mixed republic; 3 = parliamentary and constitutional monarchy; and 4 = non-democratic.
HOMICIDE & OTHER VIOLENT CRIMES
Religion which is popularly associated with notions of what is good, just, charitable, peaceful, and the like, as commanded by a presumed and revered all -knowing and all-loving Supreme Being—if in fact it is that—must be reflected in the incidence (hopefully or even wishfully absence) of violent crimes like intentional homicide or murder. For this purpose, the IV or regressor dominant religion 2007 is constructed, and included in the regression equation. The needed data are retrieved from “Religions by country,” on 22 January 2013 from http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religions_by_country. The categories of religion are coded as follows: 1 = Christianity, 2 = Islam, 3 = Buddhism, 4 = Hinduism, 5 = Others, and 6 = No Religion.
Results of Bivariate Analyses: The Pearson Correlation Coefficients Table 4 shows the results of the bivariate Pearson correlation analyses. The primary IV, guns per capita, appears significant (r = -0.225, p = .003). Its negative correlation with homicide rate appears not surprising in light of the previous showing in the analyses of USA data that the related variable “concealed-gun carry” is negatively related to total crime rate, particularly to homicide, robbery, and aggravated assault. All the other IVs appear significant as expected: income inequality 2011 (gini index) with the expected positive sign (r = 0.473, p = .000), literacy rate
2011 with the expected negative sign (r = -0.222, p = .002), rule of law 2011 with the expected negative sign (r = -0.353, p = .000), form of government (r = -0.359, p = .000), and dominant religion (r = -0.217, p = .002). The positive coefficient of income inequality indicates that the same concomitantly occurs with homicide in the same direction, either upward or downward. If there is a causal connection between the two phenomena, and probably they have, then it pays to reduce income inequality in the population in order to reduce homicide rate.
Table 4. Pearson Correlation Coefficients Between the Independent Variables (IVs) on One Hand and the Homicide or Murder Rate (DV) on the Other Independent Variable (IV) Guns per capita (per 100 people)
Homicide or Murder Rate (per 100,000 people) -0.225** (.003, n = 174)
Income inequality 2011 (gini index)
0.473** (.000, n = 155)
Literacy rate 2011
-0.222** (.002, n = 191)
Rule of law 2011
-0.353** (.000, n = 193)
Form of government
-0.359** (.000, n = 191)
-0.217** (.002, n = 193)
**significant at the .01 level; *significant at the .05 level NOTE: The significance levels (2-tailed) and the number of pairwise cases are enclosed in parentheses. The homicide rates pertain to the years 2011 and earlier.
The negative coefficients of literacy rate and the rule of law indicate that homicide or murder rate occurs concomitantly with both in the opposite direction. Again, if there are underlying causal connections, and most likely there are, then it pays to enhance literacy rate and the observance of the rule of law to reduce the incidence of homicide. The form of government appears significantly related with the incidence of homicide. Given the coding scheme used (e.g., 1 = full presidential â€Ś 5 = nondemocratic and absolute monarchy), the negative coefficient indicates that at least the nondemocratic countries have lower incidence of homicide relative to that of the full presidential system. True enough, results of the one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) confirm this finding. The ANOVA (F = 10.14, p = .000) results show that as the form of government rises upward the scale, that is, from full presidential (1) to semi-presidential and mixed republic (2)
HOMICIDE & OTHER VIOLENT CRIMES
then to parliamentary and constitutional monarchy (3) and finally to the nondemocratic and absolute monarchy (4), the mean homicide rate cascades downward progressively and monotonically, namely: from the presidential maximum 1 = 17.9, to 2 = 9.11, to 3 = 6.37, and finally to the nondemocratic minimum 4 = 4.93. And, post hoc tests show that all pairwise differences between means are significant. In short, the nondemocratic countries appear less murderous, even as the countries with the presidential form of government appear the most murderous. Quite unexpectedly, the dominant religion of a country appears significantly related with the incidence of homicide. Given the coding scheme used (i.e., 1 = Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), 2 = Islam, 3 = Buddhism, 4 = Hinduism, 5 = Others, and 6 = Non-religion (atheism, etc.), the negative coefficient indicates that at least the predominantly non-religious or atheistic countries have lower incidence of homicide relative to that of the Christian countries. Indeed, results of the one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) confirm this finding. The ANOVA (F = 3.29, p = .007) results show that as the form of government rises upward the scale, that is, from Christianity (1) to Islam (2) to Buddhism (3) and to Hinduism (4), then to Others (5) and finally to Non-religion (6), the homicide rate generally glides downward, namely: from the Christian maximum 1 = 12.99, to 2 = 5.96, to 3 = 4.14, to 4 = 2.90, to 5 = 10.33, and finally to the non-religious minimum 6 = 2.60. And, post hoc tests show that all pairwise differences between means are significant, except that between Christianity and the Others. In short, per initial analyses, the Christian countries appear most inclined to commit murder.
Results of Multiple Regression Analysis: The B and Î˛ Coefficients Multiple regression analysis is brought to bear on the worldwide dataset. Pairwise deletion of missing value was used to handle missing variate values. The results are shown in Table 5.
Table 5. Regression of Homicide or Murder Rate on Guns per Capita and the Other IVs Or Regressors (serving as Control Variables), n = 151 Regression Coefficient Independent Variable
Guns per capita 2007
Literacy rate 2011
Rule of law 2011
Semi-presidential & mixed republic
Nondemocratic & absolute monarchy
Income inequality 2011(Gini)
Adjusted R Square
0.326 (F = 7.088)
*significant at .05 level (2-tailed); **significant at .01 level (2-tailed); NOTES: The 2-tailed significance levels are enclosed in parentheses.
missing values are excluded pairwise. The referent category for the form of government is the full presidential. The referent category for the dominant religion is Christianity.
The equation shown in Table 5 appears significant (F = 7.088, p = .000). It explains 32.6 percent of the total variance of homicide or murder rate as indicated by the magnitude of the adjusted R square (R 2=0.326).
HOMICIDE & OTHER VIOLENT CRIMES
It is interesting to note that while the abovementioned correlation results show all six (6) IVs to be significantly related with the homicide or murder rate, the more accurate multivariate regression analysis shows only three (3) significant IVs, namely: income inequality, rule of law, and dominant religion (Islam and Buddhism less murderous relative to Christianity). This is probably due to the underlying presence of residual multicollinearity between and among the IVs. The folly of the gun ban. The gun policy variable (the primary IV), guns per capita, now appears unrelated to homicide or murder rate with trivial regression coefficients (i.e., β = -0.104, p = .118). Apparently, this is the result of its probable intercorrelatedness with other IVs (the multicollinearity problem) with the stronger IVs, income inequality and rule of law. This is confirmed by the subsequent corollary finding that the correlation between guns per capita and income inequality is substantial (r = -0.156, p = .056, almost significant at .05 level) and that between guns per capita and rule of law is highly significant (r = 0.410, p = .000). Be that as it may, the policy implication remains the same, that is, that the incidence of homicide or murder cannot be abated by a gun policy aimed at reducing the gun density in the population. Equivalently, the occurrence of a greater gun density (arising from the residents’ exercise of their natural and statutory rights to preserve and/or defend themselves with guns) cannot be deemed, on empirical grounds, to bring about a higher homicide or murder rate. In this connection, it is interesting, if not disturbing, to mention that in 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that “police do not have a constitutional duty to protect a person from harm” (retrieved on 29 January 2013 from “Police,” http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police). In this light, if, after all, a particular person cannot invoke a sense of constitutional duty on the part of the police to protect him from harm, then to whom can he turn for his protection? Necessarily, that protector must be none other than the person himself—and his gun. Verily, a gun ban policy must therefore be an act of folly.
The dominant roles of income inequality and the rule of law. Three (3) of the other IVs or regressors (control variables) remain significant, namely: income inequality (e.g., β = 0.266, p = .000), rule of law (β = -0.259, p = .002), and dominant religion with two (2) significant categories (Islam: β = -0.288, p = .000; Buddhism: β = -0.150, p = .016). The common intuitive expectation is that income inequality begets homicide or murder, among others; and this is evidenced by the aforementioned significant positive regression coefficients of income inequality. Likewise, the common intuitive expectation is that a better administration of justice as reflected by a better rule of law index deters the commission of homicide or murder and/or presumably other violent crimes. True enough, this is supported by the aforementioned significant negative regression coefficients of rule of law. The surprising effect of religion. The author had harbored no expectation regarding the possible connection between religion and the incidence of homicide or murder and/or other violent crimes, prior to his aforementioned preliminary bivariate analyses showing a significant correlation between dominant religion and homicide or murder rate. This preliminary finding motivated him to subject the same to further analysis, to the more rigorous multiple regression analysis. The result appears quite surprising— countries where Islam and Buddhism are the dominant religions have lower homicide or murder rates, relative to the countries where the dominant religion is Christianity. The question is asked: what makes them less homicidal or murderous? The possible explanations are beyond the scope of this study. The trivial roles of literacy rate and the form of government. The showing of the more rigorous multiple regression analysis negates the previously stated significant correlations between literacy rate and form of government on one hand and homicide or murder rate on the other. What multiple regression analysis does is to isolate the unique contribution of each IV to the total variance of the dependent variable (DV = homicide or murder rate).
HOMICIDE & OTHER VIOLENT CRIMES
And, the result is that, after doing so, literacy rate is rendered trivial (β = 0.102, p = .173). In this respect, while it can be shown that the correlation between income inequality (significant) and literacy rate is not significant at the conventional 5 percent (.05) level, the same appears significant at the less rigorous 10 percent level (r = -.0.135, p = .092). On the other hand, there appears to be a much more significant correlation (r = 0.538, p = .000) between literacy rate and rule of law (significant β). Thus, it seems clear that after isolating the unique contributions of the three (3) IVs from each other, literacy rate fizzled out in favor of the much stronger income inequality and rule of law. The role of the form of government appears similarly trivial, despite the previous showing of a significant correlation between it and the homicide or murder rate. The more rigorous multiple regression analysis shows that the form of government in fact has no significant unique contribution to the total variance of homicide or murder rate. The previous appearance of the significant bivariate correlation between the two (between the IV and the DV) is apparently due to the presence of the problem overlapping variance with other IVs (multicollinearity problem). Results of further correlation analyses between and among the relevant IVs give evidence of this state of multicollinearity, and which results are: the correlation between form of government and income inequality is significant (r = -0.398, p = .000), and that between form of government and rule of law is likewise significant (r = 0.400, p = .000). Necessarily, therefore, at least one of the three IVs has to fade away in the context of a multivariate analysis, and per the algorithm of multiple regression analysis, it has to be the form of government. However, in this respect, it is noteworthy to mention that, under the less stringent 10 percent level of significance, two categories of the form of government would appear with significant negative regression coefficients, namely: semi-presidential & mixed republic (β = -0.128, p = .061) and nondemocratic & absolute monarchy (β = -0.111, p = .094). Now, the negative
sign of these coefficients means that, individually, both categories have observed lower incidence of homicide or murder, relative to that in the referent full presidential category—meaning that the residents in these two government categories are less inclined to commit homicide or murder relative to those under the full presidential form. But, of course, this interpretation would obtain credence only under the relaxed and less stringent 10 percent level of statistical significance, as opposed to the conventional 5 percent level.
POLICE DENSITY AND HOMICIDE RATE: THE TRIVIAL NEXUS The intuitive belief is that there is a negative relationship between police density and homicide or murder rate, that is, that when the per capita number of policemen is increased, there exists an ensuing greater deterrence against the commission of homicide and other violent crimes; and therefore, there occurs a corresponding decrease in homicide or murder rate. Or, equivalently when the per capita number of policemen decreases, the homicide rate increases. Evidence shows otherwise: police density and homicide rate are empirically unrelated. However, there is a caveat to be taken, that is, that this generalization seems to apply only within the observed practical range of country police densities worldwide.
The “Numbers of Police” vis-à-vis Homicide Rate: The Tricky USA Correlation When measures of police density are correlated with homicide or murder rate the resulting coefficients appear significantly positive. The coefficient between the 2005 police density and the 2011 murder rate appears significantly positive (r = 0.711, p = .000), and that between the 2010 police density and
HOMICIDE & OTHER VIOLENT CRIMES
the 2011 murder rate likewise appears significantly positive (r = 0.722, p = .000). This is contrary to intuition, even as it is intriguing and tricky as well. At first blush, one naughty, albeit possible, interpretation comes to mind, that is, that greater police numbers (not necessarily police density) beget higher homicide or murder rate. Of course, this appears incredible. It is true that there are criminals in uniform in any police organization, but there is strong reason to believe that their number is negligible, especially in the American environment. The much more plausible interpretation is that any change in the homicide or murder rate brings about a corresponding similarly directed reactionary change in police density. Thus, for example, if the murder rate increases, the reactionary policy or administrative response is to hire more policemen. Quite obviously, this explains the observed significant positive correlation. Moreover, if at all there is an underlying causal connection, then the phenomenon of increasing police numbers is more likely to be the effect of the growing incidence of homicide or murder (presumed cause) rather than vice versa. Indeed, the policeman is not likely to be there ab initio in the violent crime scene; on the contrary it is usually the case that he appears only subsequently after the commission of the crime, to investigate (as a scene-ofthe-crime operative) rather than to provide a direct ante-delict physical deterrenceâ€”unless he himself is the criminal. Indeed, in practice, more policemen are hired (given the budgetary allocation) usually in response to an observed surge of armed criminality, rather than in anticipation thereof. Moreover, if there is a reactionary increase in the number of police officers, it seems to be the case that the incremental number is usually not big enough (perhaps mainly due to budget constraints) as to effect a much greater per capita police presence (police density) in the community that can theoretically significantly deter the occurrence of violent crimes. Apparently, a valid way to unravel the connection or lack of it is to examine time-series and/or panel data. First off, consider the homicide or murder rates. The USA time-series dataset for this analysis begins with the
year 1960 and ends with the year 2010, covering a period of 51 years. Trend analyses are done, and the two most explanatory curves (trends) appear to be those of the quadratic equation (adjusted R 2 = 0.898, p = .000) and the cubic equation (adjusted R2 = 0.910, p = .000). The best-fitting cubic curve is shown in Figure 1 hereunder.
Figure 1. Trend of the USA Total Violent Crime Rate (1960 â€“ 2010)
HOMICIDE & OTHER VIOLENT CRIMES
Over the 51-year period under analysis, the total violent crime rate moved steeply upward for the first three decades, reaching a maximum of 758.2 per 100,000 inhabitants in the year 1991. However, thenceforth, the rate started to plunge steadily downward.
This significant downward trend of the
incidence of violent crimes has been occurring for the past two decades (since 1991)—until now. Parenthetically, against this downtrend of violent crime, it is interestingly pertinent to juxtapose the concomitant gun (firearms) density trend over the last 10-year segment of the aforementioned downward period. The George Washington University, using data based on USA government sources, reports (“U.S. gun manufacture rate soars,” retrieved on 29 January 2013 from www.facethefactsusa.org/facts/US-Gun-Manufacture-Rate-Soars/) on gun density trend as follows, to quote: “The number of guns manufactured each year in the U.S. grew from 2.9 million in 2001 to nearly 5.5 million in 2010, which was one of the highest-volume years in history. Another 2.84 million foreign-made guns were imported in 2010. The government estimated there were 310 million firearms in civilian hands in 2009—nearly as many weapons as American citizens”
In this light, also parenthetically, there appears to be further empirical basis to argue that over the past decade gun density has gone up, and that guns in civilian hands do in fact deter the commission of violent crimes, particularly homicide or murder—at least in the American environment. True enough, as the pro-gun cliché goes, guns don’t kill, people do. Now, back to the main issue under this section—that is, the connection between police density and homicide or murder rate. A review of the literature reveals a tenuous link between the numbers of police officers and the occurrence of violent crimes. In this respect, Bradford (July 2011) reviewed the methodology and the findings and/or conclusions of thirteen (13) pieces of
research, and found, among others, that: (1) there is relatively a robust negative association between numbers of police officers and property crimes, broadly defined, and (2) evidence of an association between police numbers and violent crime is weaker and sometimes contradictory. Looking at the summary report of Bradford, this author gathers the impression that the reviewed studies invariably use the variable name: “numbers of police”, “police levels”, “police presence”, and “police numbers”— which engenders the presumption that the same denote the size of the studied police forces in terms of absolute numbers, and that as such said studies failed to isolate the concomitant effect of a growing population. If this is the case, then their resultant findings and/or conclusions need to be considered, let alone accepted with a lot of caution. In this respect, for example, if there is an observed increase in the “numbers of police” or “police presence,” this does not necessarily mean that police density in the population has also increased because such an increase can be just enough to maintain the pre-existing density or even proportionately less than the concomitant population growth rate, in which case what truly obtains is a diminished police presence, per capita, in the community. Apparently, the apparent failure to use per capita police numbers (police density) is a design flaw of these previous studies that seriously adversely affected their internal validity, and that now makes causal inference even more farfetched. Moreover, and parenthetically, it is well and good that the aforementioned literature review likewise reports a “robust negative association between “numbers of police” and property crimes, since that is indeed the theoretical, albeit romantic expectation. After all, theoretically, the police are there to deter and/or apprehend criminals, that being their raison d’etre. Now, what does more recent evidence show? First off, results of correlation analyses are presented hereunder. Table 6 presents the results of relevant correlation analyses that bear on the connection between police density (presumed IV) and property crime rate (presumed DV).
HOMICIDE & OTHER VIOLENT CRIMES
Table 6. Correlation Coefficients Between Police Density (IV) and Property Crime Rate (DV) IV versus DV
Police density 2005 versus Property Crime Rate 2005
Sig. Level (2-tailed) .419
Police density 2010 versus Property Crime Rate 2010
Police density 2005 versus Property Crime Rate 2010
*significant at the .05 level (2-tailed) **significant at the .01 level (2-tailed)
For 2005, there appears to be a trivial connection between police density and property crime rate, not consistent with what is reported in the aforementioned Bradford review. Then for 2010, the connection appears significantly positive (r = 0.347, p = .013), contrary to the “robust negative association” reported by the Bradford review. When, out of a sense of curiosity, 2005 police density data are correlated with 2010 property crime rate data, a similar significantly positive correlation appears (r = 0.356, p = .010). But this showing of significant positive intertemporal correlation (2005 IV versus 2010 DV) is not surprising in light of the strong positive correlation between the 2005 and 2010 property crime rates (r = 0.871, p = .000). In view of this empirical showing, the reported “robust negative association” between police numbers and property crime rate appears unsupported, after all. Further, the question is asked: is there a similar pattern of intertemporal variation, if any, of police density (presumed IV) and property crime rate (DV)? It is important to probe into this question in order to cast more light upon the aforementioned showing of a significant positive correlation between police
density and property crime rate. Table 7 presents the magnitudes of police density (presumed IV) and property crime rate (DV) for the year 2005 as compared to those for the year 2010.
Table 7. Police Density and Property Crime Rate (2005 & 2010): Intertemporal Comparison Variable
Property Crime Rate
483.872** (sig. decline)
**significant at .01 level (2-tailed) NOTE: Police density is the percentage of the number of police officers relative to the state population. Property crime rate is the number of such crimes committed per 100,000 inhabitants of the state.
Police density in the USA appears comparatively stagnant for the years 2005 and 2010. The difference between means (-0.000001) appears almost zero as shown by paired-samples t-tests ((p = .975). In other words, police density remains almost constant between the two points in time, intertemporal variation appearing almost nil. On the other hand, between the endpoints of the same period, property crime rate declined significantly to the extent of 483.872 (p = .000, pairedsamples t-test). Of course, this significant decline is expected in view of the earlier showing (see Figure 1) that there has been a significant downtrend of the incidence of violent crimes since 1991, and in view of the significant positive correlation between total violent crime and property crime rates (e.g., 2005: r = 0.55, p = .00; 2011: r = 0.67, p = .00).
HOMICIDE & OTHER VIOLENT CRIMES
In sum, what happened during the 2005-2010 period was that while police density remained constant over time, property crime rate significantly declined over the same period. Evidently therefore, it cannot be said that there was/is a covariation between the two variables, let alone a causal connection that proceeds from the direction of police density to that of property crime rate. Ergo, this lends credence to the earlier postulation that crime rates (now shown to be the real IV) in general, property crime rate in particular, bring about a reactionary increase in the â€œnumbers of policeâ€? (now shown to be the real DV), or possibly but quite rarely, reactionary increase in police densityâ€”and not vice versa.
The Indication of Worldwide Evidence: Tenuous Nexus Worldwide or across countries, what relationship obtains between police density and homicide or murder rate on the other? Also, out of a sense of curiosity, what connection obtains between the related density of private security force and the homicide or murder rate. These questions are sought to be answered under this section. The Correlation and Regression Coefficients. The correlation coefficients that bear on these questions are presented in Table 8. By and large, the indication of these correlation coefficients is similar to that in respect of the USA data. The correlation between police density and homicide or murder rate appears trivial (r = 0.029, p = .763), and so is that between the density of police and private security forces combined (r = 0.220, r = .072). However, not surprisingly, the correlation between the density of private security and homicide or murder rate appears significantly positive (r = 0.385, p = .001). Again, the aforementioned relevant explanation applies, that is, more private security personnel are hired in response to observed increasing homicide rate; of course, they are not hired for the purpose of murdering people.
Table 8. The Correlation Coefficients Between the Density of Police and Private Security Forces on One Hand and Homicide or Murder Rate (circa ≤ 2012) on the Other Variable Police density (per 100,000 inhabitants, ≤2012) Private security density (per 100,000 inhabitants) Density of police & private security combined
Sig. Level (2-tailed) .763 (n = 114)
.001 (n = 68)
.072 (n = 68)
Multiple regression analysis provides a more internally valid indication of relationships, if not threads of causality. The specification of the following equation is guided by the showing of the previous analyses the results of which are shown above. The relevant regression results are shown in Table 9. Looking at this table, one notes that the regression equation appears significant (adjusted R2 = 0.280, p = .000), and it explains twenty eight percent (28%) of the worldwide inter-country variance of homicide or murder rate. Given this significant equation, the primary IV under this section—police density—comes to the fore with the expected trivial regression coefficients (e.g., β = 0.059, p = .539). In fact, as shown in Table 5 and/or Table 9, the significant explanators of the variance of homicide or murder rate are: income inequality (positive), rule of law (negative), and dominant religion (the Islamic and/or Hindu being less prone to commit homicide or murder than the Christian countries). This is consistent with the previous data-based explanation of the aforementioned tricky USA significant positive correlation between police density and homicide or murder rate, that is, that the American homicide or murder rate appears to be not really dependent upon police density—within
the present practical range—but rather, conversely, that police density is a reactionary offshoot of the intertemporal trend of homicide or murder rates;
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meaning that additional policemen are recruited or not, depending upon the observed or perceived incidence rate of homicide or murder. Table 9. Regression of Homicide or Murder Rate (circa â‰¤ 2012) on Police Density and the Other IVs Or Regressors (serving as Control Variables), N = 90 Regression Coefficient Independent Variable
Sig. Level .803
Police density (per 100K, 2007)
Gun density (per 100 inhabitants)
Income inequality 2011(Gini)
Rule of law 2011
Semi-presidential & mixed republic
Nondemocratic & absolute monarchy
Adjusted R Square
0.280 (F = 3.918)
*significant at .05 level (2-tailed) **significant at .01 level (2-tailed); NOTES: The 2-tailed significance levels are enclosed in parentheses. Cases with missing values are excluded pairwise. The referent category for the form of government is the full presidential. The referent category for the dominant religion is Christianity.
Now, it is important to take note of the qualification—within the present practical range—because it is theoretically possible to drastically reduce present police density to a level lower than the observed minimum (48 of Mali) as to embolden armed criminals, or significantly increase the same beyond the observed maximum (1,374 of Monaco ) as to make the maintenance of a much larger police force no longer cost-effective. In this connection, it is noteworthy that the United Nations (UN) recommends a minimum police density of 222 per 100,000 people (retrieved on 5 February 2013 from “List of countries by number of police officers,” http:// www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_police_officers). Moreover, it is important to note that the related gun policy variable— gun density —also appears not significantly related to homicide or murder rate. Again, this is consistent with the previous showing as shown in Table 5 above. Further, the three control IVs, namely: income inequality (positive), rule of law (negative), and dominant religion (Islam, less prone to homicide than Christian) consistently appear significant, retaining their respective signs.
CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS Homicide or murder and other violent crimes are committed not because of man’s ownership, possession and/or carrying of guns. As shown in this and other previous studies, guns do not kill, people do. In fact, as shown in the foregoing analyses of USA evidence, the carrying of concealed guns significantly deters the commission of homicide or murder in the American setting. The same analyses of USA evidence indicate that gun density and homicide or murder rate are unrelated to each other. This is particularly shown by the analysis of intertemporal data. Moreover, among the independent variables
HOMICIDE & OTHER VIOLENT CRIMES
(IVs) studied, apart from the significant gun policy variable “concealed-gun carry,” there is just one other significant explanatory variable (serving as control variable) of American homicide or murder rate, that is, poverty rate. As expected, poverty rate appears with a significant positive effect on the incidence of homicide or murder. And lastly, in this respect, it is to be noted that poverty rate also serves as a proxy variable that captures the concomitant entwined effects of both illiteracy and unemployment rates. Evidently, illiteracy and unemployment, singly or jointly, predispose such a disadvantaged individual to commit homicide or murder and/or other violent crimes, but their effects are captured and represented by poverty rate. Parenthetically, as a matter of curiosity, police density is prima facie found significantly and positively correlated with homicide or murder rate, and this is quite surprising. However, on deeper probe, this appears to be so not because of the “police-causes-homicide” causal possibility, but rather because of the converse mechanism, that is, that an observed or perceived upward incidence of homicide or murder brings about the reactionary recruitment of more police officers. In fact, on further analysis of intertemporal data, there appears to be no connection between police density and homicide or murder rate. Analyses of worldwide or inter-country data confirm the foregoing indications, except that on “concealed-gun carry,” the country data for which this author failed to find and collect. Again, gun density appears unrelated to the homicide or murder rate obtaining in a number of countries. Instead, three independent variables (IVs), serving as controls, appear significant, namely: income inequality (positive, as expected), rule of law (negative, as expected), and dominant religion (Islam unexpectedly appearing to be less prone to homicide or murder than Christianity). Again, parenthetically, also as a matter of curiosity, among a number of countries, police density appears unrelated to the homicide or murder rate. And instead, three independent variables (IVs), serving as controls, appear
significant, namely, again: income inequality (positive, as expected), rule of law (negative, as expected), and dominant religion (Islam unexpectedly appearing again to be less prone to homicide or murder than Christianity). The gun policy implications seem obvious. First off, on the focus of this study, it is pointless and/or even deemed to be an act of folly on the part of the government to introduce, implement, and maintain a gun ban policy for the purpose of reducing the incidence of homicide or murder and/or other violent crimes. On the contrary, what is advisable to be done is simply allow the concerned individual to own, possess, and carry a concealed gun, provided that the same is registered or licensed. As shown above, this is a significant and effective deterrence against the commission of such violent crimes. The psychology of mutual deterrence comes to play, since the perceived or actual probability that the potential criminal and his potential victim are each armed with a gun is relatively high. Within the present observed and practical range of police density, there seems to be no important policy implication that can be seen as proceeding from the evidence, except to restate that the UN-recommended minimum police density is 222 per 100,000 inhabitants. Of course, any one particular national government may opt to further increase the countryâ€™s current police density, even up to a level at least at par with the presently observed maximum (the outlier, the 1,374 of Monaco where the corresponding observed homicide or murder rate is zero), provided that such an increase is well within the governmentâ€™s financial capacity to do so, or done as a result of
considered judgment in light of macro-socio-political considerations. However, as shown above (see Table 9), there are more cost-effective points of policy intervention, albeit indirectly, other than drastically increasing police density, with the view to curbing the incidence of homicide or murder, namely: implementing policy actions that minimize income inequality and poverty; and those that enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the administration of justice, that is, of the rule of law. Verily, a better
administration of justice, a better rule of law makes one think twice before attempting to commit a crime, especially a violent crime like homicide or murder, since his probability of being apprehended, prosecuted, convicted, and incarcerated is relatively much higher.
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THE AUTHOR The author holds the doctorate degree in educational administration which he earned at the University of the Philippines in 1981. Likewise, he earned the graduate diploma in economics of education and education in developing countries at the University of London (1985-1986), as a British Council fellow. Likewise, he had earned his Bachelor of Science in Education (mathematics), magna cum laude, at the Divine Word College of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines (1967); and his Master of Arts in Education at Mariano Marcos State University, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Philippines (1976). He taught graduate courses in education & national development, economics of education, and research & statistics at the College of Education, University of the Philippines, from where he retired early on in 2001. He founded and served as the Editor of The Search Journal (for educational administration) for ten years. In 2005, he was recognized as an Outstanding Ilocano Educator by the University of Northern Philippines, Vigan City, his former and first university-employer. He wrote the following books and booklets: Data Organization and Analysis in a Computer Environment, c1995 & c1997, ISBN 971-91402-08; Classroom Observation and Related Fallacies: Lessons for Educational Administration, c1996, ISBN 971-91402-1-6; Humor and Madness, c1997, ISBN 971-91402-3-2 which was recognized in 1999 by the London-based world records organization for having the longest preface relative to total book length; and its sequel Humor and Madness, Jr., c2009, ISBN 971-91402-3-2 which contains arguably the longest preface in absolute length composed of just one sentence consisting of 62,705 words, arguably the third longest English sentence ever written; Forms of Government and the Occurrence of Coups D’Etat, c2007, Trafford Publishing, Victoria, BC, Canada; c2009, Philippine Edition; Parliamentarism and Other Ways to National Wealth and Welfare, c2012, being carried by Amazon/Kindle as ebook; Parliamentarism, Freedom from Corruption, Foreign Direct Investment, and Per Capita Purchasing Power Parity: The Causal Nexus, c2012, being carried by Amazon/Kindle as ebook; and a number of articles including “Toward an Objective Evaluation of Teacher Performance: The Use of Variance Partitioning Analysis, VPA,” Education Policy Analysis Archives; Vol. 13, No. 30, May 6, 2005; ISSN 1068-2341; Arizona State University and University of South Florida. Email address: email@example.com.