Re: some U.S. observations and notes

From: Geraint Rees (
Date: Mon Dec 24 2001 - 13:18:31 MST

On 12/24/01 6:41 PM, "James Rogers" <> wrote:

> Similar trends apply to the UK as well. As has been mentioned in the past,
> at the beginning of the 20th century when guns were totally unregulated in
> the UK, the murder rate was substantially lower than it was at the end of
> the 20th century when handguns were basically outlawed. The same goes for
> overall violent crime rates.

Not quite right; I think you need to put these statements in a lot of
context to interpret them correctly. Some of the relevant statistics are at: (section 6)

Although the UK homicide rate has indeed risen from 9.6/million in 1900 to
14.1/million in 1997, this is in the context of a much greater rise in all
crime, from 2.4/thousand to 89.1/thousand. If you look at the statistics,
you will see that most of the rise in these rates has taken place since
1970. So homicide rates as a proportion of all crime has fallen.

Context: firearms play a miniscule role in UK homicides. In recent years the
*absolute numbers* (compare with a typical US city) of handgun homicides
have fluctuated from a low of 7 (in 1988) to a high of 42 (in 1999) - source
for this is That's for
the whole country. So if we assume the UK population is ~60 million, in the
late 90s there were about 850 homicides in the UK per annum, with between 7
and 42 being related to firearms. In other words between 0.8-5.0% of all
homicides in the UK are related to the use of guns. Guns were used in only
4.7% of UK robberies in 1999, so don't play a very big role in non-homicide
violent crime either.


1. Guns are outlawed (or severely restricted) in the UK
2. Guns do not make any significant contribution to homicide in the UK
3. Guns do not play any significant role in violent crime in the UK
4. Although overall murder rate has risen over 100 years, this is vastly
outstripped by a rise in all crime, and is not accompanied by any specific
rise in the murder rate attributable to guns.

In short, I think your implicit argument that controlling guns (in the UK)
is unrelated to the use of guns for murder is completely incorrect.
Observationally, guns are outlawed in the UK and the homicide rate
attributable to guns is very small. Of course, this doesn't mean there is a
causal connection; but it's certainly an interesting observation!

Technically, you are of course correct that in the UK total homicide rate
and gun control are uncorrelated, but this is for the completely trivial
reason that over 95% of homicides in the UK do not involve guns.

> It should also be noted that virtually all of the concentrations of violent
> crime in the US occur in locales where firearms have been banned or severely
> restricted.

Interesting - can you provide more details? I wasn't aware that there are
specific locations in the US where firearms are banned? Are you talking
about neighborhoods, states, cities, what?


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