Friday, November 16, 2007

Having a gun stuck in you face is a common experience

The General Social Survey asked 6,599 men if they had ever been threatened with a gun or shot at. Here are the percentages by ethnic group:

Percent ever threatened with a gun or shot at

American Indian 44.9
Mexican 42.3
Blacks 42.1
French 35.9
Protestant Irish 34.8
Czech 33.3
Russian 32.4
German 32.0
Jewish 31.7

USA 31.5

Catholic Irish 31.4
Scottish 30.0
English/Welsh 29.2
Austrian 27.5
Danish 26.9
Swedish 26.3
Polish 26.0
Italian 24.3
French Canadian 22.7
Dutch 15.5
Asian 12.5

My first reaction is the frequency of this type of victimization: almost 1/3 of all males. I must hang out with the right kind of people because this has never happened to me or anyone I know. (The numbers might be inflated a bit by reports of military experiences). Seconds, NAMs (non-Asian Minorities) inhabit the most violent worlds. Amerindians face a higher risk of victimization than either blacks or Mex-Ams. Whites are in the middle, and Asians (Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino) are not surpisingly at the bottom. These numbers suggest that being a victim is corrrelated with being a perpetrator: assaulted one day, assaulting the next. Even though Asians tend to be urban, they have very low rates of victimization. Why? Well, they don't provoke others, and much of the time they are moving among other Asians--a group whose members rarely point guns at people.


  1. Anonymous10:00 AM

    I am shocked at the size of these percentages. Gun crimes just aren't common enough, and I doubt that military experience accounts for all that much.

    Could some of the people who report being threatened by guns actually be interpreting that situation very broadly? For instance, you're in a convenience store late at night and are concerned about a disreputable-looking fellow patron - why, he might have a gun or something. Never mind the fact that no gun is ever drawn and it's far more likely than not that he isn't armed. Could some GSS respondents count a situation of this type as being "threatened" by a gun?

  2. Anonymous11:36 AM

    I wouldn't be surprised if the % of asians is higher. Asians have a tendency to not report crime. But having said that, they are still a very law abiding group. I am a bit dissapointed with the Italians. With all of our guido, mafia shit, the fucking Danes have us beat!? Mamma Mia!

  3. It's my impression that a high percentage, perhaps 50%, of holdups of whites is by blacks.

    So it may not be correct to assume that the percentage of times an ethnic group has faced a gun in a robbery is equal to the percentage of times it uses a gun for robbery.

  4. Here's the control for military service. I think I excluded all Ns below about 15.

    American Indian 46.0
    Blacks 38.9
    Mexican 36.7
    Irish 35.1
    Polish 28.6

    USA 26.3

    Jewish 23.6
    German 23.3
    English/Welsh 22.9
    Italian 22.3

  5. Anonymous5:35 PM

    I was robbed at gunpoint as a teenager. The person doing the pointing was a young Hispanic male (with a few unarmed accomplices of the same race). This was a neighborhood where people often didn't bother locking their doors. I suppose that will change in time.

  6. Last year, an older guy told me that he was driving down the highway one day when a car full of Hispanics tried to force him to pull over. He grabbed his handgun that was kept under his seat, he pointed it at them, and they immediately took off.

  7. Anonymous2:03 PM

    Just to clarify a bit, are these men who have been victimized or just men who have had guns pulled on them. If the latter, it would certainly include mutual combat by armed thugs as well as criminals whose crimes have been thwarted by armed citizens defending themselves. Both of these scenarios would help account for the large proportion of NAM males who have had "guns stuck in their faces." If they're attempting to rob someone who pulls his Glock to thwart the attempted robbery, they are hardly victims. On the contrary.

    Even so, the numbers are exceptionally high, so high that I seriously doubt their validity. I have one friend who had a gun pulled on him (by a black male carjacker) but he is definitely the exception among my male acquaintances.

  8. jack: The question was, "Have you ever been threatened with a gun, or shot at?"

    Some criminals who met armed victims might answer yes
    to this question. The numbers are indeed high, but keep in mind that the question asked if this EVER happened to you--that's a lot of years of risk.

    Myself, I never had someone threaten me with a gun, but once a big, redheaded mountain man put a very long hunting knife against my chest.

  9. When reading the question, I had a strong urge, as a manly man who has lived an adventurous life, to find some incident that would allow me to answer yes. I immediately came up with the time I drove past a gas station and the cops were pointing guns at a guy aiming back from behind a car. And I think I drove through the bad guy's line of fire (assuming he ever eventually started firing, which I have no evidence of). I couldn't really tell because I crouched down low in my seat and tried to drive with just one eye peering over the dashboard, but he was definitely pointing his gun in my general direction, so, yes, count me in! Danger is my middle name!

  10. Anonymous1:36 AM

    I was shot and it was a black guy he ran in my house shot me and robed the place

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