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Posted on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 9:26 a.m.

Harvard researchers find: More guns, more homicide

By Wayne Baker

1219 Harvard School of Public Health report.jpg
Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week Dr. Baker is discussing gun control.

The debate about gun control continues, renewed by the overwhelmingly tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Public opinion has swung in favor of stricter laws, and some pro-gun Republican leaders are talking about real action. As we started to discus yesterday, the debate is riddled with facts, pseudo-facts, and fiction about guns and gun control.

What are the facts?

Today, let’s consider three facts, provided by the Harvard School of Public Health. Researchers there reviewed previously published studies and analyzed data to come to their conclusions. Here’s what they report. I’ll quote each lead sentence in their report so that you know exactly what they said.

Fact #1: “Where there are more guns there is more homicide.” This is true in affluent countries, in the United States, and in U.S. regions, states, cities, and homes. More guns, more homicide.

Fact #2: “Across high-income nations, more guns = more homicide.” The Harvard researchers analyzed data from 26 affluent countries. The equation “more guns = more homicide” is true across countries, not just for the U.S.

Fact #3: “Across states, more guns = more homicide.” Some states have more guns than others. Even when you take into account poverty, urbanization, age, unemployment, alcohol use, and other factors, more guns means more firearm homicide.

Meanwhile, the user-initiated online petition at in support of gun control was nearing 400,000 signatures yesterday evening.

If more guns = more homicide, will fewer guns mean less?

Would strict gun control reduce the chances of another Sandy Hook?

Wayne Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.



Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

Due to cut-off: my last sentence should have read: AAdotcom: get rid of this agenda-peddler now. Get someone with a greater devotion to facts and reason. Adding: please do this now, before your publication loses all credibility and favor.


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

"more homicide" - a term left undefined is one often used to stir emotions in place of thought. Wayne Baker's agenda is to manipulate opinion and 400K unwary people are "biting" on his opinion poll - but not everyone. "Across high-income nations, more guns = more homicide." -- Meaning I suppose that elimination of high income is the answer to homicides involving guns (which about equals the "homicides" committed on highways every year). Is that it, Wayne? (Look up the definition of "homicide.") I have a lady friend with a Master's degree in social science: she used her gun to kill an ex-con who'd tracked her to her home and was in the process of attacking her. I'd say her Master's degree in social science trumps Wayne Baker's Phd any day. I FAVOR such "homicide" and defy any real humanitarian to say otherwise. Oh wait- that's exactly what's featured columnist IS SAYING. Purposely, I believe, Wayne Baker uses the term "homicide" to indicate all of them are bad. Bad premise: that's why the law of this and most other lands also use the term, "justifiable homicide" - exactly what Baker fails to mention. " Even when you take into account poverty...(etc)" Yeah - take into account that "a number of states" favor self defense using guns: 39 out of 50 in fact. That's 78%, a clear majority (with only ONE state having anti-self defense laws on the books - Illinois). Baker needs to answer: how people are going to defend themselves against superior force? Guns are the most affordable, most safe means of countering superior force (be that any kind - including just being bigger or having greater numbers on the attacking side). Vaporize 300 million guns and you'll still have bigger brutes, gangs of brutes or single attackers using anything from knives to sharpened toothbrushes. AAdotcom: get rid of this agenda peddler now. Get someone with a greater devotion