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Posts Tagged ‘guns’

Sure-Fire Baby Names

Abby Haglage reports in The Daily Beast of an apparent uptick in firearm-inspired baby names.

In 2002, only 194 babies were named Colt, while in 2012 there were 955. Just 185 babies were given the name Remington in 2002, but by 2012 the number had jumped to 666. Perhaps the most surprising of all, however, is a jump in the name Ruger (America’s leading firearm manufacturer) from just 23 in 2002 to 118 in 2012. “This name [Ruger] is more evidence of parents’ increasing interest in naming children after firearms,” Wattenberg writes. “Colt, Remington, and Gauge have all soared, and Gunner is much more common than the traditional name Gunnar.”

Okay, that’s all well and good, but if parents really want to show their gun bona fides, how about going all-out and naming your kid Colt .45?

(HT: Marginal Revolution)

On Suicide and Guns

We’ve blogged quite a bit about suicide and put out an hour-long podcast on the topic. The podcast featured an interview with Matt Wray, a sociologist who studies America’s “suicide belt.” He described the type of American most likely to kill himself:

WRAY: So, yes the Inner Mountain West is a place that is disproportionately populated by middle-aged and aging white men, single, unattached, often unemployed with access to guns. This may turn out to be a very powerful explanation and explain a lot of the variance that we observe. It’s backed up by the fact that the one state that is on par with what we see in the suicide belt is Alaska.

DUBNER: All right, so now you can get a picture of the American who’s most likely to kill himself: an older, white male who owns a gun, probably unmarried and maybe unemployed, living somewhere out west, probably in a rural area. 

A new paper (gated) by Alex Tabarrok and Justin Briggs further examines the connection between firearms and suicides. Tabarrok summarizes their findings at Marginal Revolution:

"There Are No Bullets for Sale"

We recently received an e-mail from one Glenn Harris in response to our “How to Think About Guns” podcast. He is right — we should do a podcast episode or book chapter on hoarding. It is certainly a great topic, especially in that economists see hoarding (and price gouging) very differently than most regular people (a point I touched on here). Anyway, below is Glenn’s e-mail. The subject line was “There are no bullets in the United States …”

…for sale that is.


I’m interested in hoarding behavior, its economic impacts, and the freak’s point of view. 

I live in New York.  When hurricane Sandy came along the top-of-the-list item my friends with children hoarded was milk.  They gave no thought to the fact that the probability that they would lose power and the milk would spoil.  Over one million homes lost power and surprise, perishable foods spoiled.  The post-storm hoarding behavior quickly moved to gasoline.  There was plenty of gasoline in the northeast but no electricity to pump it out of the ground.  The result was a run on the gas stations that did have power.  The ability to hoard gasoline is clearly limited by one’s ability to store it.  With gas cans quickly selling out drivers waited in lines for hours just to top off their tanks with a few gallons. 

The damage in the northeast was extensive.  Many roads and businesses were closed so there really was nowhere to go.  And children can sustain life without cow’s milk quite nicely.  I survived our last five extended power outages with half a tank of gas and no milk.

Guns and Peanuts

Saw this ad for peanuts in the subway this morning. It was doubly jarring. First, because I am not used to seeing the word “peanut” in public unless it is followed by the word “-free,” as in “peanut-free school,” “peanut-free party,” “peanut-free environment,” etc. And second: because the kid in the ad is holding a couple of toy guns! Many parents I know don’t let their kids play with any sort of toy gun, ever. (I happen to not be one of those parents.) As a result, their kids — their boys, mostly, to be clear — just make guns out of sticks, rulers, broomsticks, pens, fingers, etc.

I guess if you’re making an ad for one product that people are squeamish about, you might as well double down and go for the full effect.

Shifting Gun Sales in Texas

A Texas legislator has proposed exempting handguns from the 6.25 percent state sales tax on March 2, Texas Independence Day.  He claims this will create jobs.

It is likely that this brilliant idea will increase total gun sales, as reducing the net price of guns will increase the quantity demanded.  But it would also shift gun sales away from most other days in the year.  I would bet that employers of gun shops would in the long run cut employment and rely on overtime and temporary workers around March 2.  It’s not clear that retail jobs would be created.  Jobs in gun manufacturing would increase as production increases, but that wouldn’t help Texas very much, since most guns sold in Texas aren’t produced here.  Of course, one also wonders whether more guns in Texas will add to our safety!

In Response to Your Queries About Gun Violence…

We’ve gotten a lot of requests to comment on the massacre in Newtown, Ct., especially regarding the issue of guns. I haven’t done so because I don’t feel I have anything meaningful to contribute at this time, especially to the victims’ families, except for my deepest sympathy.

I will point to some things we’ve already written on the topic: Chapter 4 of Freakonomics, pp. 130-133; a quorum on how to reduce gun deaths; and a Q&A with the photographer-author of Armed America. And we are starting to produce a podcast about gun violence, to be released sometime in the spring.

Wishing everyone a more peaceful holiday season than the tragic events in recent months have prepared us for…

Why Gun Traffickers Should Live in Arizona

A new study by Brian Knight, an economist at Brown, explores the flow of the illegal firearm market in America and compares the source of guns used in crimes to gun laws in and around that state.
How big is the market for illegal firearms? Pretty big. Knight writes: “ATF investigations into tracking between July 1996 and December 1998 identify over 84,000 firearms that were diverted into this secondary market (ATF, 2000).” Meanwhile, each state in America legislates its own gun laws, resulting in cross-state externalities. For example, Knight cites anecdotal evidence showing that a gun purchased legally in Virginia for $150 – $200 typically resells in New York City for $500 – $600. This is the sort of thing that keeps Michael Bloomberg up at night.
Here’s the abstract:

Want a Glock With That Hummer?

Jim Lynch, who owns a Hummer dealership in Chesterfield, Missouri, has begun selling guns and ammo alongside the vehicles.

When Your Portfolio Is Packing Heat

Some people invest in stocks, others invest in lobbyists. Still others, The Wall Street Journal reports, are investing in assault rifles. Just as Slate laments spring as the start of gun season, Freakonomics readers might find more to worry about with the start of swimming pool season. [%comments]

Mike D'Antoni and the Difference Between a Concealed Handgun and LoJack

John Donohue and I have weighed in again on the concealed-handgun debate. (You can read previous writings on this subject here, here, and here.) This time we have responded to an empirical article by Carlisle Moody and Thomas Marvell, who claim they are “confident” that “the evidence, such as it is, seems to support the hypothesis that the shall-issue law . . .

Is Plaxico Burress an Anomaly?

Photo: G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times A few years back, I wrote an article about the N.F.L.’s annual “rookie symposium,” a four-day gathering during which the league tries to warn incoming players about all the pitfalls they may face — personal threats, bad influences, gold-digging women, dishonest money managers, etc. The N.F.L. even brought in a bunch of veterans . . .

Are Gun Shows Dangerous?

Photo: Michael (mx5tx) Every time the subject of guns comes up, whether on this blog or elsewhere (see here, here, and here for a few examples), the resultant discussion is predictably passionate. I am guessing that passionate gun discussions are taking place all over the country today with the news that an 8-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed himself over . . .

What’s Your Best Idea to Cut Gun Deaths? A Freakonomics Quorum

Photo: Secretly Ironic Are there more guns in the U.S. or more opinions about guns? Hard to say. This blog has featured a variety of posts about guns in the past; today we present a quorum with a very narrow focus: what are some good ideas to cut gun deaths? Let’s put aside for a moment the standard discussions about . . .

No More D.C. Gun Ban? No Big Deal

The Supreme Court recently struck down the gun ban in Washington, D.C. A similar gun ban in Chicago may be the next to go. The primary rationale for these gun bans is to lower crime. Do they actually work? There is remarkably little academic research that directly answers this question, but there is some indirect evidence. Let’s start with the . . .

Do It Without Your Gun

I recently published a paper on urban gun markets with Philip J. Cook, Jens Ludwig, and Anthony A. Braga. I was sort of the odd man out. The three researchers have been studying gun use in the United States for many years. I had access to gun sellers, prospective customers, ammunition dealers, and gun brokers who bring purchasers and sellers . . .


We’ve looked at how the rising cost of metals has changed the value of the coins in your pocket, the pipes in your walls, and the parts under your car. It turns out that gun lovers and local police have been looking at it, too. Consider the bullet. Basically, it’s made of lead wrapped in a jacket of copper or . . .

Questions Your Doctor Didn’t Used to Ask

I had my annual physical the other day, and my doctor asked the typical battery of questions before the physical exam began. As we got to the end of the questions, I couldn’t help but note that she’d added a few questions that doctors didn’t ask in years past: “Are you sexually active?” … and then: “Is there any reason . . .

Help the Police, Help Yourself

Among a certain type of criminal — think mafia, think crack gang — there is no greater dishonor than to snitch. Giving information to the police is a betrayal of the worst sort, often punishable by death. Which is why this article from the British magazine New Statesman is so interesting. The article, by Martin Bright, is about the recent . . .

Guns in America

The U.S. reportedly has the highest concentration of private gun ownership in the world. It is estimated that Americans buy more than half of all the guns that are manufactured worldwide each year. We wrote a good bit about guns in Freakonomics — primarily about the lack of efficacy of gun-control laws and gun buybacks on the crime rate — . . .

When It Comes to Guns, Virginia Can’t Get Out of the News

This is the kind of story you don’t read every day. The plot points: 1. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City sued two gun shops in Virginia, as part of his effort to stop guns being illegally imported to New York. 2. A gun-rights group called the Virginia Citizens Defense League mounted a fundraiser for the two gun shops, planning . . .

A Reluctant Note on the Virginia Tech Shooting

Aside from the actual sadness of events such as this, I am additionally saddened by how they tend to play out in public. They become instant platforms for people with all sorts of motives to opine and rant against their pet targets — media, guns, mental illness, privacy, etc. — when in fact what happened was a tragedy and an . . .

Editorials Don’t Kill People

Imagine that you are an editorial writer at a newspaper. In honor of the annual celebration of government transparency known as Sunshine Week, you decide to write a column that includes a link to a public-records database that lists names and addresses of all members of a certain population. Now, try to imagine which of the following databases might provoke . . .

Freakonomics in the Times Magazine: Dog-Waste Management

The October 2, 2005, Freakonomics column appeared in the annual New York City issue of the New York Times Magazine. In keeping with the Freakonomic tenet that few topics are too trivial for dissection, Dubner and Levitt turn their attention to the essential New York City issue of dog poop. Click here to read the column. This blog post supplies additional research material.