Not what I wanted to do this morning, but when I saw a fellow sociologist Tweet about a New York Times story on “How to Buy a Gun in 15 Countries,” I couldn’t help myself. According to the Times, “Many Americans can buy a gun in less than an hour. In some countries, the process takes months. Here are the basic steps for how most people buy a gun in 15 of them.”The implication is that adding more steps and required approvals to the process of buying a gun ("Be more like Europe!"). The problem is that it doesn't. Looking at the homicide rates in other countries vs. how many steps and approvals are required to buy a gun shows no correlation.
The red dots are the data points for each country and while a "best fit" line has been plotted, the bit is very poor. The "R2" value in the upper right is exceedingly low; normally you need R2 to be at least 0.5 for a valid correlation and mostly you want to see R2 > 0.7. This value is 0.071, meaning that there is basically no correlation at all between the data points.
Combining homicide and suicide rates, the closest countries to the USA (2 steps, 14.58 combined rate) are Austria (8 steps, 12.61 rate) and Yemen (2 steps, 16.67 rate).
Summing up: The New York Times says that we need to have more restrictions and permission steps to buy a gun ("Be more like Europe!") when this would have precisely ZERO effect on the homicide or suicide rates compared to Europe. In other words, it's just another comfortably smug northeasterner blabbering nonsense about a topic he knows nothing about.