300 Negligent Discharges Study: The Shocking Results
Our team undertook a massive study about one of the most dangerous and, unfortunately, common issues that face firearm carriers—the subject of negligent or accidental discharges.
Now, negligent discharge is not always the jargon used when discussing this issue. More than likely, you have heard this issue referred to as “accidental discharge.” However, I don't think this is the best way to describe incidents like these. After reading through 300 different news stories about these discharges, one thing has become clear. In all of the articles that we went through, these discharges WOULD NOT have happened if those handling the firearms followed proper gun safety protocols.
The Scope of the Study
In the study, we researched 24 months from December 2014 to November 2016 and ONLY included stories in which someone was injured or killed, and unfortunately, these tragic stories were not that hard to find. I initially tasked our research team with finding 100 stories. It didn't take long.
So I asked how many more they could find. In the end, we had a list of 300 unique news stories. Sadly I'm confident that the actual number of incidents is much higher, given that so many negligent discharges don't land in the local news.
The individual stories are extreme, and reading all 300 of them changed my life. Some are just tragic accidents that probably happened to decent gun owners who just made a mistake. Others are discharges that occurred to criminals while they were committing crimes. Some stories feature cops, some kids, some parents, and even one story where the dog did it.
Below are some of the key points and lessons I derived from the news stories. If you find this insightful or valuable, I encourage you to share this with friends. There are social share buttons above and below the article. Also, there is the option to embed the full infographic at the bottom of this page.
THE PRICE OF NEGLIGENT DISCHARGES
When you usually think of a negligent discharge, you are likely picturing something that would occur at the gun range or in the woods while hunting. You may either laugh off or, at the worst, it scares the daylights out of you. But the statistics that we saw were instead downright tragic.
As you can see from the above graphic, the number of those discharges that ended in death equaled roughly one-third of the incidents we studied. It's hard to imagine someone you care about getting hurt or dying simply because of improper handling of a firearm, but it is a fact that it does happen and far too often. Modern medicine has done a lot; however, the death rates related to gun accidents, suicides, and attempted homicides have all dropped steadily over the last 50 years.
WHO GETS HURT IN NEGLIGENT DISCHARGE INCIDENTS?
Now you may be saying to yourself that you are not one of the people who mishandle a firearm. You follow all of the safety precautions with both handling your gun as well as storing it. There is no way you could have an accident like those we are speaking about here. However, just because you are safe doesn't mean that the danger is gone. We have found that it may be far from gone.
We found a significant number of injuries or deaths from these incidents occur to an innocent bystander—one who is nearby and not necessarily the person who was holding the firearm when it discharged.
Think about that the next time you walk into a public gun range filled with strangers.
In the 300 news stories that are part of our study, nearly 48% of the time a negligent discharge injured or killed someone OTHER than the person holding the firearm.
So as you see, you have almost a 5 out of 10 chance of being injured or killed by negligent discharges if you are standing around someone else who sets off the discharge. The statistics are comparable to how often the actual person holding the gun is injured or killed.
A Shocking Trend:
This trend is one of the more shocking finds we discovered. Safety around firearms begins with you, but the fact of the matter is that even if you are well trained, the person next to you may not be, and they are also perhaps holding your life in their hands.
So if you see someone who is mishandling their weapon or not following gun safety procedures, you need to let them know how dangerous their actions could be because it's not just about their safety. It is about yours, as well.
WHO NEGLEGENTLY DISCHARGED THE FIREARM?
About 2/3 of incidents were caused by an adult directly. Excuses range across the board, the most popular being that “the gun went off by itself.” Sadly, in about 30% of incidents, a minor under 18 discharged the gun. In the vast majority of these situations, the minor had unauthorized access to the gun, left out by an adult or improperly stored by an adult.
Reading through the individual stories themselves serves as a solid and emotional reminder of the importance of keeping all firearms secured.
STATISTICS DON'T CARE WHERE YOU ARE
So let's take a look at just where these incidents are taking place. We received and reviewed incidents from all 50 states and found that some states did have significantly higher numbers of negligent discharges per capita. The gun grabbers would, of course, want us to believe that weaker gun control laws = more accidents. That certainly doesn't seem universally true.
The Brady Score is the most common reference tool used by Gun Grabbers to identify states with “weak” gun laws. Their top 10 states for dangerous gun-related incidents are Arizona, Wyoming, Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, Arkansas, Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, and Nevada. So you would think that if weak gun laws were the most significant factor in these incidents, a map of negligent discharges would show the same information, but that is not the case.
We draw no conclusion:
The per capita negligent discharge rate is still high in some Brady Score states like Montana and Kentucky. Still, some of the states that the Brady Campaign identifies through their channels have incredibly low numbers on this chart. Alaska is #3 for “weakest” gun laws, and we didn't identify any incidents in Alaska at all.
At the same time, Virginia and Arkansas are ranked 7th and 6th in gun danger on the Brady Campaign's scale. But here, we see that they are well within the bottom half of states with several incidents.
The short answer? Our data can't tell this story fully. More research would need to be done to account for various variables in order to draw any sort of relevant conclusion. For me personally, looking at the data I do have doesn't tell any story.
WHERE NEGLIGENT DISCHARGE INCIDENTS OCCUR
So it seems that geographical location, access to guns, and even gun crime are not significant in the number of negligent discharges. But what about places within those states that have more guns available? Places like gun shows, or ranges, or even going hunting?
Well, it seems that the numbers prove that once again, these kinds of things can happen anywhere. However, sadly from what we have found, most of them occur at home.
There are many reasons why we saw that the home was the most common location for these discharges. A LOT… and I mean FAR TOO MANY of these incidents happened when a child picked up an unsecured and improperly stored firearm.
There were also accidents while cleaning, or sometimes just playing around with the gun. But the overall trend is the same. It was simply due to a lack of care taken at home and people letting their guard down.
It makes sense as to why people relax more in the comfort of their house.
Still, as you can see from the numbers, the idea of simply throwing caution to the wind no matter where you are is something that should never occur and may end up being a reason for an injury or something worse.
RESOURCE: See our selection of gun safes
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO PROPER TRAINING
We certainly can tell through all of these bits of information that there is no rhyme or reason regarding location or age, or even day of the week.
No. There's no massive difference in safety if you are a Wisconsinite on a Wednesday or a South Carolinian on a Saturday. There is only one real common connection between these negligent discharges: a lack of training or a lapse in the practice of gun safety.
What does it all mean?
It is incredibly sobering to read these stories and know that there is more that we could have done. That's why it is our company's goal to train a generation of gun owners to be responsible, safe, and able to handle any situation necessary. (If you would like to see for yourself the 292 news stories where we got our data, click here: 292 Negligent Discharge Stories.)
Now I don't want to turn this into a lecture about the gun safety rules or the most common barriers to following them. I understand that following a strict diet of training and safety is work. But the work that you put into this can mean the safety and security of you and the ones you love. No, I'm instead asking that after reading all of the above, you take a moment and recommit yourself and your household to a higher level of gun safety. Do NOT compromise.
And if you need help or have questions, we are here! Our team exists to support gun owners in a mission—a mission of defending the innocent among us from the threats surrounding us. A big part of that mission has to link to the strict adherence of gun safety and gun rights expansion. We hope you will be part of our mission and our family!
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I was in a refresher course for permit renewal and our instructor informed us that only one student handled and unloaded their weapon correctly. As he informed us of this he stared straight at me so I assume I was the one he mentioned. I am glad I handled my weapon correctly but it is enough to worry me about the others around me,what are they pointing their weapon at ? If it`s me I don`t feel good knowing I may be one of your next cases. I will wait till the others are done before I go up to unload and place my weapon on the hold table.
Roger, in my CC permit course, during the shooting test, the Instructor had a negligent discharge while trying to show a student how to load their Ruger Single Six revolver. Fortunately it was pointed in a relatively safe direction, but still shook me up a bit. Moral of the story, if you don’t know how a firearm works, don’t try to figure it out with live ammo.
EXCELLENT article and a MUST SHARE!!! Negligent discharge is not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN!!! If firearms safety protocol is followed 100% of the time, NEGLIGENT DISCHARGE can be AVOIDED. If you at least, ALWAYS keep a firearm pointed in a SAFE direction you can avoid injury or death!!!
I’d like to Thank Concealed Carry for reporting on this SERIOUS issue and HOPE EVERYONE will share this .
STAY SAFE and PRACTICE & EDUCATE YOUR FRIENDS FAMILY AND LOVED ONES FIREARMS SAFETY!!!!!
I second that Michael.
Absolutely pointing weapon in safe direction and in same vein treating firearm as if it was loaded therefore you point safe direction is truly First Rule to avoid AD.
Your !!! should be a comma and your If should be if. I am not being the grammar police, but I can’t support your statement or assertion with out you changing it, because as it is written currently, I disagree with you. And I actually think that I do agree with you but not as it is written. Feel free to tell me if I am wrong. Thanks.
quit nitpicking dude
Here is your grammar award 🥇
If you hand a weapon to someone and the first thing they do isn’t check to see if it’s loaded, take it away from them—IMMEDIATELY! they don’t know anything about gun safety!
Would like to know the make a model used the most
A tremendous about of work went into your gun safety study. This research will be kept for a good reminder to be “safe” in all “handling” of firearms.
Thanks Rick. Spent 2 months compiling and extracting the data so we could present this! I hope it has enough impact to have been worth the time 🙂
Jacob, if the work you did saves one life, I would say it was worth your effort. Thank you so doing the work.
Very informative, thanks. Any possibility of parsing the data for what types of guns went off?SA/DA, safety on/off, DAO? Unchambered be one in the chamber? That would be interesting.
You truly have to know what you are doing and have a lot of training. Then things can still go wrong. You have to be aware of all your surroundings, what type of firearm you are dealing with (know it inside and out with a lot of training). ALWAYS TREAT YOUR FIREARM AS IF IT IS LOADED AND ONE CHAMBERED. SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY!!!!!
I just sat in on a nra safety training for my wife and a friend . taught correctly , it is something every gun owner and future gun owner should attend . gun safety is something that has to be 100 % of the time .
we were at an indoor range for the live fire portion of the course and two men came in and were using the range . both experienced and one of them kept pointing his gun up towards the ceiling when he finished shooting . there is a conference room above the range and a negligent discharge could have injured someone there . he was informed and he proceeded to aim the gun down and away from everyone after . even experienced shooters sometime forget the rules .
Good stuff to know and remind gun owners to be extra careful and aware of what your doing. Keep up the good work
Wow! I am flabbergasted by your comment inre the owners of the “indoor firing range” where you attended the gun safety class would actually have anything built out over the firing lines of a live fire gun range, especially meeting / classrooms!
How freaking stoooooopid is that?
First of all, thanks to all who participated in gathering this information. I’ve talked with too many who “I know all that.” We all know the rules when asked. Reinforcing again and again is necessary to ensure it never happens! Can we ever be too careful? I have an arrow taped on the top of my range bag, barrels in that direction so I always know.
what firearm was involved the most in adc’s
John, we were curious about that but most of the news stories don’t tell us what the make or model of the firearm was. I’ll add that only of the few stories MIGHT have been prevented if a different firearm were involved. The vast majority were straight negligence.
I am 60 yrs old and shoot a lot ( have my own range at home) when I was 13 I had a negligent discharge. No one was hurt or even knew it happened. It scared me so bad that to this day i remember it like it was yesterday. I think about it often and what could of happened to my friends in front of me. To this day when I hand a firearm to someone the action is open and unloaded. The first thing I do when handling a firearm is looking to see if it is loaded before I do anything. I just hope to God nothing ever happens.
Just had my first ND and you are right on. My biggest problem is how I failed to follow the most basic rule,Check the gun. I thank God I had it pointed correctly but I feel (at this moment) I could fail again and that scares me beyond belief. I’m hoping that fear of failing to follow safety protocol helps me to never have another negligent discharge. It is my hope that I am reminded like you of the time I failed every time I handle a firearm.
Learn from your mistakes and take gun safety seriously EVERY TIME. I hope this mistake haunts me every time I handle my firearms
How do you know the dog didn’t shoot the guy on purpose?
I had a case of negligent discharge at 14 and she never let me try again! Lol seriously, LEARN weapon skills before you carry, keep your nose picker off the bang switch and always secure your firearms !
What’s the website for the Brady information?
Excellent study, thanks for taking the time. Hope to see it make prime time…make sure you pass it along to all the other gun sites. This is truly enlightening info…yes, certainly a LOT of data is missing (those un-reported or that are dramatic enough for news) but in the least it reminds us that shit happens and we need to be cautious all the time – safety, safety, safety!!!
This study – or similar – should be mandatory reading for ALL gun owners annually. There’s no such thing as being too SAFE.
Excellent material. Informative for prevention and avoidance of NDs. #Safety
I am in my seventies, have been shooting for over 65 years and have been a Range Officer, military and civilian for well over fifty years. Have seen many negligent handling occurances. There were ten where the firearm actually fired. Nine were from people that had been trained, two Army and seven Law enforcement. The last was a young lady who touched the trigger on a shotgun when holding a shotgun and hit the ground. I continue being a RO today, and am very cautious on the range. All guns are to be treated as if they are loaded.
This is excellent information, every gun owner should have, even non-gun owners!
I am an NRA certified firearms trainer for over 29 years! There is no such thing as an “accidental” discharge!!! I tell my students every bullet they fire they own, until it is safely motionless!
I have been shooting guns for 50 years (I’m 60) and reloading for over 40 years. There is not a time I don’t think safety first!
As an RSO, I have prevented countless ND’s. Second biggest problem is safety glasses, I have seen too many near eye damaging events as well.
I love my sport and responsibility, I will do both until I am gone!!!
I determined quite a while ago there is NO SUCH thing as an “accidental discharge”
as some involvement by some individual is required.
No gun ever loaded and discharged itself by an of it’s own volition.
No bow ever knocked an arrow, drew back it’s string and released the arrow on its own.
Some creature was involved, maybe a monkey or someone with a monkey’s mentality.
There is such thing as accidental discharge but its rare vs negligent. Safeties do fail, striker fire pistols can go off if dropped. Many videos showing this. Rare but not impossible.
Rule of thumb to LIVE by; Always assume your weapon is loaded, even if you KNOW you have unloaded it. Too often a person may have removed the magazine, thinking it was then unloaded, but didn’t remember having worked the slide leaving a round chambered. With a revolver you can physically SEE that all rounds are removed, however removing them requires knowledge of that particular revolver, as a single action can be dangerous if left partially cocked with rounds still in the cylinder.
Be safe, ALWAYS ASSUME YOUR WEAPON IS LOADED, and handle it appropriately.
Why isn’t the NRA involved in your effort? Why aren’t they funding advertising with billboards and TV adds showing these statistics and addressing the rules for securing and handling guns? Training gun owners when they get their permit and ending it there is like never attending a driving safety course because you took driver’s ed back in high school.
@Caroline, NRA has huge numbers of classes and materials on safety and rules for securing guns. And rates of death from accidental discharge of firearms have fallen by 75% the past 30 years.
NRA is being outspent on civil rights by the gun control/ban lobby 17:1 so it is forced to spend a bit on that, but it spends much more, huge amounts one gun safety — it is the only national gun safety organization in thethe county
The NRA is the only source the Department Of Justice uses to teach the Concealed Carry Handgun Permit laws in North Carolina! The NRA is all about Safety and Training! I voluntarily teach classes for Women every month and am getting many first time shooters, first time gun owners. The ones who understand that buying a gun is not the end, but the beginning, of becoming a Safe, Responsible gun owner are outnumbered by those who haven’t got a clue! I am a CCHP Instructor and a few other disciplines as well as a Range Safety Officer. If you go to the NRA website, they have a Women’s section full of great information for Women shooters!
This is a very good article. I hope everyone reads this. I’m sharing it and hope you do too.
Thank you for all the work your team put in.
Maybe the dog was aiming at Michael Vick?
Sobering data that reminds me to recommit to safely storing my firearm while at home. Thanks!
This is an excellent article, and the information is good to know and relevant. It would almost make a person afraid to even walk out of their house! However, we should remember that this article only takes into account 300 incidences that were reported in the news. There are certainly way more incidents that didn’t make the news. But on the other hand, when you consider how many people are handling firearms on any given day, and do so safely and responsibly, with no negative repercussions, the percentage of negligent discharge compared to the number of times a firearm is handled would be miniscule. Most (not all, but most) of the gun owners I know treat their firearms respectfully and responsibly.
I had a ND yesterday ive been around guns and shooting since i was 6, im 36 now im a religous when it comes to gun safety i have a gsw to the thigh through and through no major damage i was in my car at lunch wiping it down took it apart and put it back together. After it was all done i cant wrap my head around what happened, it is something i will have to live with.
First off, thank God you are okay and no one was seriously injured. Second, thank you for sharing your incident. I know it probably isn’t a proud moment, but it takes a lot of courage to share something like that and by doing so, you can drive the point home that we can never get too comfortable or lax with firearms no matter how long we have been around them. Your experience, as far as not quite understanding what happened is quite normal, especially that it just occurred yesterday. I imagine it was a very traumatic and anxiety producing event. Our brains can get bogged down in these instances, not just during the incident, but afterward, sometimes for a couple days. This is a perfect example of why it is best not to give statements directly after a shooting. You may have facts mixed up, simply not be able to remember and want to remember, so you start filling in the blanks. Try to give it a few days and then back step by step what happened, after your body and brain have been able to return to its normal hormone and anxiety levels. I am sure you will be able to recollect better and figure out exactly what happened.
Thanks again, glad you are okay and God bless.
a) I think one of the things we need on any gun stats or analysis is proportion of events tied to illegal guns, typically owned by criminals and legal guns owned by law abiding.
b) Secondarily there is a problem in the way you sampled, in that some of those claimed negligent discharges may have been intentional. As evidence, the rate of gunshot injury to death nationally has been 10:1 for a decade or more, and 2:1 may indicate some kind of intent, and that 10:1 injury to death even includes all people shot multipletimes.
Now of course negligent discharges can occur with law abiding simply because if you handle a firearm enough negligence can occur, and some legal otherwise law abiding can be fools as well.
but my guess is this is more likely a distribution like “guns in the home being more dangerous to household members” or incidents of children and firearms, where the vast majority of non-suicide incidents are in fact with a gun owned by an illegal firearms or criminal/gang member owner.
Years ago when I was in grad school we looked at incidents in NJ. The NJ state polcie had estimated that about 16% of “gun owners” in NJ were illegal possessors. Yet they appeared to be from sampling over 90% persons who committed a shots fired illegal incident with no injury, with injury and with death. Moreover they were also to an ever greater degree the source of the firearms in incidents with children shooting themselves or others.
In fact in Maryland, 91% of all gun murder VICTIMS were criminals, 80% with ten or more arrests
We all must be careful about our own safe handling and safe storage regimens. But we shoudl also be aware that the vast majority of both intentional and unintentional gun injury and death is from a small minority that are criminals in possession, and typically repeat or career criminals
Excellent article and very eye opening. Safety concern and training is not a one time hit and forget but must be lived every minute of the day. “I forgot” is not acceptable. Thanks for the article and study. Glad to see the postings on Facebook as reminders and presentation of such as this article.
As an experienced shooter and retired LEO I had a ND at home when I mishandled a 1911 style pistol, fortunately no one was hurt. Later a close friend, also handling a 1911, shot off his left index finger. Whenever I’m tempted to get another semi-auto I just search the net for new ND stories and I’m cured. Please understand that I’m not blaming the gun but be careful, this can happen to anyone.
Had a ND last night, was clearing firearm ejected mag, pulled slide but did not lock it did a quick glace at chamber and missed the round was going to dry fired the weapon and it wasn’t a dry fire. Completely my fault, my father was a LEO so I learned gun safety at early age. Thankfully I was following all of the other rules, muzzle down and away from all others in vicinity. It makes you sick to your stomach but it also reminds you how important it is to never let your guard down and follow the rules of gun safety because they work!
I always point my guns down and away from myself and others and after removing the magazine, cycle the slide or bolt several times to eject any round left in the chamber, including a snap cap, then do a visual inspection of the chamber. My two semiauto handguns also have loaded chamber indicators that I check first before handling them
A revolver was not mentioned in this article, only twice in the same reply. The only safe house gun is a quality revolver,(S&W 642), with a hard trigger pull, shrouded hammer etc. This type of gun will always fire, never jam and if a small child finds it, the trigger will be difficult to pull, also it is easier to place a gun lock on this weapon. This is my opinion.
Whenever visitors, especially children, enter your property, ensure no firearm is accessible. Gun owners should always be mindful of their guns.
It would have been nice to know what type of hand guns were involved in these ADs. I have a feeling that striker-fired pistols may be connected with more ADs than other types – like what happened to the dancing FBI agent. I will stay with the double action deliberate trigger pull.
Not an AD, not a ND, these should be labeled UD, unsafe discharges. I recently acquired my pistol permit in Coumo land after a lengthy legal process. Each time I handle my weapons I go through all the safety procedures and rules 2 or 3 times. I also harken back to my days in the service. If you dared to break a safety rule or had an ND, God help you, a healthy slap to the back of your head was the minimum you received. But I digress, my point being that most events happen when we are lazy, in a hurry, nobody’s looking, taking a shortcut. In short, all reasons tied to our busy lifestyles, so slow down.
Great article Jacob, thanks for putting this together. This needs to spread. Too many gun owners I come across think NDs are a myth.
Why would ANYONE be sitting in a car, eating lunch, while cleaning a gun? Safety lapses all around. NEVER mix food and cleaning guns, Too much contamination around your food. Never clean a firearm while sitting in a vehicle. Find a nice open table (not your kitchen table, unless fully covered to protect from residue) where all parts can be safely disassembled and carefully placed, then cleaned. NEVER take your gun out of your holster unless you intend to use it. It you are going to clean it, see instructions in preceding sentence.
My history is irrelevant but; after an EXTENSIVE professional life of having firearms as a tool in my tool box, I had two negligent discharges and have always considered myself “Safe”. It does happen. GREAT article to raise awareness. Keep ’em coming guys!!!
Are there statistics on Negligent Discharge of Striker fired weapons vs those with a manual safety?
Not that I’m aware. I don’t know any organization that really gathers data on NDs in any formal way so the data we have is what we can gather from news reports and they rarely specify the make or model of firearm.
I was also wondering if there have been any studies into the model of firearm, condition, and specific firing mechanism, vs negligent discharge. This is the kind of study the CDC could be doing if they weren’t specifically banned from researching firearm-related injuries and deaths, but even more, it is staggering the number of NDs which are completely unreported, as witness the professional, trained gun owners which have responded to this thread. If no one is hurt, the ND isn’t witnessed, and if authorities aren’t called, then the incident might as well not have happened.
The certainty is that no unloaded gun has ever “gone off” by accident or otherwise. But with the staggering number of models and manufacturers out there, as well as the age and condition of many of the firearms in circulation, it is not always clear in each model if it is loaded. Some have safeties, many do not. Some have known issues where wear might make them misfire, double-fire, or make an ND far too easy because the trigger pull is far too light, or the mechanism can even slip all on its own.
I am not a “gun grabber”–I am married to a gun store owner in fact. But I do wish that some models of firearms were recognized as being public hazards. Unfortunately, they are often the least expensive ones, meaning that more of them end up in the hands of under-trained or negligent owners. Gathering full statistics on this would be the first step in educating gun owners and purchasers as to the specific steps needed to avoid an ND, and NOT in seizing all firearms, but in potentially removing some of the worst offenders out of circulation.
Lacey, I wish we had that level of data to analyze. What I could say from this study is that all types of firearm from all sorts of manufacturers are represented. This primarily because the negligent discharges are, for the greater part, not the fault of the firearm but the user.
Biased article that misuses facts and statistics or perhaps just ignores them altogether and pretends to find their own relevant information to support the bias! These are suppose to be accidental discharges but he pictures show a shooter intentionally shooting someone in the back, WHAT! “Unfortunately” most of the accidental discharges are in the home? Where do you store, clean, and repair firearms that you own? Anyone that would not guess the home as the number one place for accidents to occur has some logic issues. The entire article is dripping in bias and by-the-way, Negligent discharge would be a legal standard that separates accident from negligent so that is why no one uses Negligent Discharge to explain Accidental Discharge and you would know that if you actually did any real research verses making stuff up to support you own inept logic.
Randy, what narrative are we trying to tell with our supposed bias? In what way does this article or content support an agenda or help us as a company. I fail to see how we have any incentive to not present the facts as they are. I agree there is a difference between an accident and an act of negligence. In reading a news story it isn’t always clear if there was an accident (IE the firearm had a failure and discharged without any neglect from the user) or if there was some act of negligence on the part of the user. It is my belief that true accidents are extremely rare and so I choose to refer to all the incidents in this data pool as negligent discharges.
Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth President of the United States. How long before the “moderator” decides if this statement will drive individuals to seek out a “safe space?”
Randy your comment was approved. We manually moderate ALL comments to ensure they meet our community guidelines. It often takes a business day or so for us to moderate them. In your case it took us about 10 hours.
Just found your podcast and am a fan! Got me looking at your website and found this, which I think is great. But I think you went a bit stray on your correlation argument, probably as a result of confirmation bias. Tell me what you think.
You say you found no correlation between strong/weak gun laws and cherry pick a few examples to support your case. But doing the actual math tells a different story.
You listed the ’10 weakest gun law states’ as Arizona, Wyoming, Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, Arkansas, Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, and Nevada. I dug up the report and it listed the ’10 strongest gun law states’ as California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Mass., Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Delaware. Probably not surprising. But lets do math using the rates in your map of the U.S.
The average per captia incident rate for the 10 ‘weak law states’ like Arizona was .147164 and the median was .108065.
The average per capita incident rate for the 10 ‘strong law states’ like California was .064172 and the median was .055635.
The group of “strong gun law states” had an average incident rate of less than half of the group of “weak gun law states.” And it had nearly half the median incident rate.
Put another way, the group of 10 weakest law states had incident rates (nearly) double those of the group of 10 strongest law states.
This isn’t spin. This is basic math using your data. Do the math yourself and let me know if you still feel there’s no correlation.
p.s. My hypothesis is that the mandatory training required by law in many “strong law” states causes a higher % of gun owners to receive training; which I think you’ll agree, since you say so in your article, is everything.
James thanks for going through this and doing the analysis. I didn’t do any comprehensive math on that specific argument. I just looked at a few states quickly and it seemed to lack a pattern. Its true I do generally distaste arguments that try to correlate “strong/weak” gun laws with violent crime or other gun-related stats. My experience is that both sides of the gun debate try to use those arguments by cherry-picking specific states that fit their narrative. That said perhaps there is a correlation. If there is I actually think it is less likely a factor of training and more likely related to lower gun ownership but that would require a lot more math and accounting for gun ownership per capita. States with “stronger” gun laws are (I suspect) much less likely to have a high rate of gun ownership and so looking at negligent discharges per capita doesn’t quite work. We would have to look at negligent discharges per 100,000 gun owning households.
Thanks for the reply and thoughts, Jacob! I think you’re right that more data and analysis would be needed to poke at the “why” of the difference.
I recently listened to your podcast about federally funded gun research. Where I come down on that is that gun owners should have nothing to fear from facts associated with gun use and ownership. And because there’s a large public safety interest (both in self-defense, and in mitigating the negative societal effects of guns) the federal government ought to be funding research into gun ownership, usage, and incidents.
To guard against bias, let the research be peer reviewed, hold public congressional hearings about the findings…bias, if it’s there, could be revealed with sunlight.
The feds refusing to conduct research communicates a fear of the results. It actually strengthens the argument of those who wish to overreach on gun regulations. It allows them to fund their own research (talk about potential bias…) with no more scrutinized or public research alternatives available.
Anyway, looking forward to more great content from your team.
Maybe the numbers are what they are because it’s easier to obtain a gun in the weak law states? I am pro-2nd Amendment and have had a gun since I was 6 years old, but I’m wondering if more owners of guns would result in larger numbers of ND’s? I hope I’m making my point clear?
The data here seem to all involve cases with injuries. I myself just had one of these ND’s and it has significantly affected my life. Nobody was injured. But great damage to my home, my relationships, and I could go on. Managing to talk to others like me, many of our cases had no injury, and so there was no report or story. All of our cases were excluded from the analysis. If not, I may have read too quickly. I understand the limitations you had to work with and I don’t diminish the value of this report. It is important. Very important. Still, I wonder if the uncounted majority (?) also have insights that could help shed light on this problem.
You are correct. Our full data set includes incidents in which someone was injured or killed. To your point, and I agree, the number of negligent discharges that aren’t in our data set is significantly higher than those included.
Thank you for the information. Although the numbers seems that they should be a little higher. I feel that it is important as a gun owner to gain as much informed information and training as possible to ensure proper use of a firearm.
Umm… in the incidents map, you picked a few data outliers and used those as the primary basis for your reasoning that their is no correlation. That’s not how data works…
If you have a trend curve identified by 7 points on the curve and 3 more points lie off the curve, why that’s still a trend.
The 10 states you mentioned, along with other rural states, tend to have darker colors. That’s a correlation, believe it or not.
In Californifa, which has stricter gun laws, you are 40% less likely to be a victim of a mass shooting, and based on the color of the map, significantly less likely to be a victim of a negligent discharge.
More guns = more dead people. Can’t say with empirical certainty why… But I suspect it’s because they make it a lot easier for people to kill each other. And people tend to be less deliberate and more emotional than we like to believe.
I see now that someone already called out your faulty statistics. It’s clear that you are shaping the data to fit your argument rather than letting the data shape your argument. Shame.
Jeremy, thank you for chiming in. I don’t mind being called out. Certainly, in hindsight, I think it wasn’t wise to draw any conclusion from my limited data as to a potential correlation between gun law strictness and NDs. I’ve updated the article to hopefully make that clear. Instead of stating “no correlation” I’ve updated it to say that we don’t have enough information to draw a conclusion. That said I think you are guilty of doing the same thing you are accusing me of doing. You are also arbitrarily picking some data points in order to support your conclusion. I’ll also add that your data point about California isn’t accurate. Active shooter events occur in California at a similar rate per capita as other states on average. Higher rate than many including New York, Maine, Montana, and Wyoming. Lower than others, like Nevada and Colorado. There is significant research to support most conclusions. This study, conducted by someone without any training in research or stats, is intended to tell people that NDs happen to everyone, anytime, anywhere, and anyone who owns or handles guns should take care. Hopefully, that core objective is acheived.