Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The US Supreme Court and Suicides in Washington

In light of the recent ruling by the US Supreme Court overturning Washington, D.C.'s law against handguns, I wish to remind people of an earlier post of mine here. The gist is that while the evidence on violence and gun control is murky (the Supreme Court cited certain studies that claim that greater gun availability may be correlated with lower violent crime, at most a weak relationship), they did not note nor mention the very strong relationship that appears to hold in the US data for suicides and gun availability. In particular, Washington D.C. has both the lowest rate of gun ownership and the lowest suicide rate of any "state," with most of the other states at the bottom of the suicide rate list also being at the bottom of the gun ownership rate list.

So, correlation may not prove causation, but I predict an increase in the suicide rate in Washington, D.C. as a result of this ruling. Let the blood of the coming dead rest on the consciences of Justices Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and swing voter Kennedy, although somehow I doubt they will have very many people telling them about this.

1 comment:

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Yesterday's WaPo (July 7) had an article on Human Behavior that gave more details. After DC passed its law outlawing handguns, the suicide rate in Washington dropped by 25% while there was no change in neighboring jurisdictions. Deaths by guns in suicides about equal those by guns in homicides in the US, a fact most people are unaware of.

So, a 33% increase in suicides is a rough estimate of what we can expect over time in Washington as gun ownership rises again. I hope that John Lott and the justices are all willing to accept their moral responsibility for this.