With the gun control topics being hot in the media lately, I decided take a look at the crime statistics and put them into perspective for people. People tend to overestimate low probability events happening to them especially when the media starts filling the airwaves with the same story for weeks at a time.
So to start out...
You are about 6,515 times more likely to get murdered than you are to win Powerball Lotto on a single ticket.
But here's the kicker: even getting murdered is a very low probability event (which really puts into context how unlikely it is to win the lotto!). Murder is not even in the top ten leading causes of death.
So let's put some additional numbers into context. FBI stats showed that in 2011 there were 12,664 murders. Of that total, 8,583 (68%) were committed with a firearm.
If we assume a uniform distribution of the events below, then you are:
..... than get murdered with a firearm.
But of course, these events are not uniformly distributed. These events would have conditional distribution that depend on life choices. If you live a healthy life, with a good diet and exercise, then your risk of death by disease decreases and the odds are overstated. But the same can be said for murder. People usually murder people that they know who are in their network and community and so one's associations and neighborhood is a major factor. So if you live in a safe neighborhood and don't deal with shady criminal types, your odds of getting murdered by firearm are also overstated. If you live in a safe neighborhood and eat healthy do these odds decrease at the same rate? It is probably impossible to determine because this would require a level of research on data that probably doesn't even exist. But juxtaposing the situations above really put it into context at how rare an event such as firearm murder really is even though there will be a nightly news story on someone who was murdered because 1 person dies every hour by firearm on average. The 69 who died every hour from heart disease don't make the cut for nightly news sensationalism.
To wrap things up, it is interesting to break down the murder statistics a little more to get a sense of the community point I mentioned above. Generally speaking, people of the same race kill each other. In 2011, FBI data show 90% of all black murder victims were committed by another black offender. Only 7% of black victims were killed by a white/Hispanic (the FBI includes Hispanics in the white category) offender. Contrarily, the rate for blacks murdering whites/Hispanics is twice as high with 14% of all white/Hispanic victims being murdered by a black offender. And finally, 82% of all white/Hispanic murders were committed by a white/Hispanic offender. Shockingly, black offenders committed 48% of all murders even though they only represent 12.7% of the American population.
Murder is also a young man's game. 90% of known murders were committed by men and most murders are committed by 20 to 24 year olds. In fact, 80% of murders are committed by people under the age of 35.
And it should also be pointed out that
The next time you find yourself in a discussion with an gun control activist spouting off about the high incidence of murders committed by guns, remind him that the cheeseburger and Coke lunch that he has been eating for the last 20 years is more likely to kill him than someone with a gun is.