After a terrible yesterday, like many people I am still trying to understand how someone could do those horrible things. I run through the list of factors and wonder which ones contributed causally. His being male? His mental abilities/disabilities? How his parents raised him? His living in a society with access to firearms or with much violent entertainment — movies, video games, etc.? His socio-economic status? And having identified possible contributing factors, how do I weight them? Which were more significant in this case?
Below are six data sets. As I peruse them for significance, I remind myself that sociology is not destiny. That is, individuals in identical social circumstances make dramatically different choices. E.g., it may be true and important that 90% of violent crimes are committed by males, but it’s at least equally importantly true that 99% of males choose not to commit violent crimes.
1. Firearm deaths per 100,000 population. The top ten in the world:
El Salvador 50.36
The next ten:
South Africa 9.41
United States 9.00
2. Regional differences within the United States. The death rate varies significantly by region — South, West, Midwest, Northeast:
Also within the United States:
3. Victims by sex and gender: Deaths Due to Firearms per 100,000 Population by Gender, 2009.
4. Perpetrators of murders by sex/gender. From the FBI’s Expanded Homicide Data for 2010: “Of the offenders for whom gender was known, 90.3 percent were males.”
5. Deaths by race/ethnicity: Number of Deaths Due to Firearms per 100,000 Population by Race/Ethnicity, 2009.
6. International gun possession: Number of guns per capita by country.
Please feel welcome to suggest other interesting data sets.