Thanks for the response. It ranks among the top responses from which I’ve learned something new, and I thank you tremendously for that.
The suicide-density research is fascinating, and very new to me. Hadn’t heard it before today. The fact that those relationships show up in countries which are both high and low in gun ownership rate seems to indicate that the relationship isn’t gun driven. It would also tend to undermine some of the conclusions I came to in my second article on guns, here:
The Left Is Making the Wrong Case on Gun Deaths. Here’s a Better Case.
The gun conversation in this country has real, systemic problems.
That article referenced the AJPH Siegal and Rothman study from 2013, here:
Firearm Ownership and Suicide Rates Among US Men and Women, 1981-2013
Objectives. To examine the relationship between state-level firearm ownership rates and gender-specific, age-adjusted…
It would seem to me, based on the PDF you linked, that someone needs to replicate the Siegal and Rothman analysis in a multivariate way, controlling for population density as a confounder, on a county by county level, and see what comes out of it. These guys did that for Maryland:
Urban-Rural Differences in Suicide in the State of Maryland: The Role of Firearms
Objectives. To assess whether the use of firearms explains rural-urban differences in suicide rates. Methods. We…
..and they seemed to find that rural areas had higher incidences of firearm suicide but not non-firearm suicide, and again only in men, which was something that Siegal and Rothman identified earlier. It does not appear to me that they went the extra step Siegal and Rothman did, in identifying how many non-firearm suicides simply flipped into the firearm suicide column when a firearm happened to be present.
So I do think you’re onto something here, but I don’t think the density issue waves it all away. Density drivers for suicide are probably some, but probably not all, of the issue with firearm suicides. Tackling that question rigorously would require a level of effort above “desk jockey blogger,” but it’s certainly something worth pointing out. I may include that in another article, thanks very much for pointing me towards it.
We do have some problems to solve, but blaming our homicide rates on firearm ownership is a cheap cop out. It’s a distraction that allows us to avoid focusing on the real issues, which are much tougher.
I agree completely, and have made that case in several different ways in several different articles, some of which you might find interesting. In particular, I address the concept of “firearm homicide reduction via gun reduction” in several ways, including the costs of a buyback, here:
The Magic Gun Evaporation Fairy
Three Reasons Why Gun Ownership Rates From Other Countries Don’t Matter
I also did a specific analysis of “how many guns would we have to buy back to save one life” here: (you’ll love this one)
Gun Buybacks and Gun Seizures Don’t Work if you Believe in Math
This just needs to be put to bed, once and for all.
I dove heavily into “what can we do to fix the problems we do have” here: