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Let’s Have A Natural Experiment Then

December 30, 2012 by and tagged

I see a few people have gotten upset over the publication of gun ownership data in this newspaper. I don’t see what the upset is all about. After all, this is the age of big data. There are data about us all over the place, about our cars, insurance, salary, etc. So, why not guns? Transparency FTW.

I also see an opportunity to test a few hypotheses. For instance, we could determine whether gun ownership has an impact on the probability of burglaries: would non-gun owners be more likely victims of burglaries (because burglars now know who does NOT own a gun) or would gun owners be particularly targeted for their guns because, after all, there is this. Or would there be any difference at all?

And if gun owners and non-gun owners are equally likely to be burglarized, what gets stolen? Are guns systematically stolen or would burglars steal the same items in both types of households (such as electronics and other monetary valuables?).

Would the presence of guns involve more armed burglars? And therefore a greater probability of shootout and casualties?

That kind of data could settle a few arguments on the issue. I’d like to see that.

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