But this story on The Atlantic's Cities blog — "The Most (and Least) Peaceful Places in America" — has got my dander up:
The United States is significantly less violent and more peaceful than it used to be, according to the United States Peace Index 2012 from the Institute for Economics and Peace. The State Peace Index is based on five factors: the homicide rate, violent crime rate, incarceration rate, police presence, and availability of small arms.
Why is the availability of small arms considered a criteria for determining peacefulness? Now before you think I'm just trying to win the approval of right-leaning Pith commenters like Gast and Mark Rogers, let me say that I do think there is a correlation between small-arms availability and violence. But whatever that correlation may be, it would already be represented in the homicide and violent crime rates, right? Merely possessing a small arm doesn't make one violent. (Oh crap, did I really just say that?) But that's exactly what this poll seems to suggest.
One commenter sums it up succinctly:
So if State A and State B have the same violent crime rate and same homicide rate and same police presence but State A has more gun ownership, State A is considered less peaceful? That can't be right.
Yet The Atlantic Cities blog seems to give the poll a pass on that glaring deficiency.
So I guess this might be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Or a chance to use the word "liberaler." But it just doesn't make sense to me — particularly since Tennessee, which has very lenient gun laws, came in as the second-least peaceful state. I wonder where we'd be if small-arms availability weren't a criteria.