Gun Control in America

Gun control is one of the most debated topics in American politics. While many people argue about gun control, they rarely try to see if it is effective. In this article I will try to tell if gun control has been effective in the United States.

To try to tell how effective gun control laws are I looked at the states and their different gun laws. To quantify the gun laws in a state I looked at 11 different categories and gave each state a score from 0 to 11 based on the number of laws the state had in each of the categories. Using data from the F.B.I.’s UCR database I was able to find out how many firearm homicides there were in each state. Alabama and Florida are not included because data was not available for these states. Washington D.C. is not included because it is 100 percent urban and it is not comparable to the states.

Rifles Handguns
Permit required to purchase
License required to own
Firearm registration
Assault weapon law
Magazine capacity restrictions
License required for concealed carry N/A


chart (3).png

This scatter plot shows each states gun control score and the number of gun murders per 100,000 people in 2017. The trendline has a slight downward slope. Washington D.C. has the highest gun control score and the highest gun murder rate, but it is not included because it is not similar to states. Even though the trendline has a downward slope, this does not prove that gun control is effective. There are not many states that have a lot of gun control and this limits our data set. The low R squared value for the trendline shows that the trendline is not very close to the data. Even though this graph may appear to show that gun control is effective at first, it does not.

There is no way to tell how many guns have been sold legally in the United States each year, but federal background checks are required every time an FFL sells a firearm. The data on the number of federal background checks is the only way to estimate gun sales. Though there is not an exact ratio of one background check for every firearm sale, this is the best way to estimate trends in gun sales.

NICS Firearm Background Checks Per Year.png

This graph showing the number of background checks in the NICS system every year shows that the number of background checks has rapidly decreased since 2005 and slightly decreased from 2016 to 2017. While this can not tell us the number of gun sales in the United States it can tell us that gun sale have rapidly increased over the last decade. The graph below shows that the murder rate in the United States has mostly remained constant over the same time period. This shows that the increase in the number of guns in the United States has not caused an increase in the murder rate in the United States.

Murder Rate By Year.png

There is not much data available on guns in the United States because the federal government does not track gun ownership. In 1996, the congress prevented the CDC from doing research on gun control. This means the data on gun control is very limited. The data that we do have does not show any correlation between gun control and decreased gun homicides, and it does not show any correlation between gun sales and the murder rate. While this does not necessarily mean gun control is ineffective, it does not show that gun control is effective. The data that is available does not show clear evidence of anything. We would need a lot more data to come to a conclusion on the effectiveness of gun control.

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