Re: some U.S. observations and notes

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Tue Dec 25 2001 - 13:35:26 MST

Geraint Rees wrote:
> 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.

However, these numbers are all suspect, since the UK, for the last
several decades, counts crimes differently than the rest of the world.
If, for instance, you kill three people in one day, or rob a dozen banks
in the same day, the UK police and statisticians will treat it all as
one crime. This obviously causes the statistics to significantly

You should also notice that the largest increases in crime in the UK
*followed* the imposition of more restrictive gun laws.

Furthermore, since the most draconian gun ban in the mid-90's, crime in
Britain has continued to rise, while in the US, crime has fallen by half
in the past decade, despite a 40% increase in gun ownership.

> 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.

So what does this say? It says that criminals will always find other
means to commit crimes.

> Conclusions:
> 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!

Yet there are over 3 million illegally owned firearms in the UK (and
this number continues to rise), none of which is threatened in any way
by further restrictions on firearms ownership, or increases in

Furthermore, a conclusion you forgot is that:

5. When criminals are denied access to one weapon, they will find
another for the same purpose.
6. Gun bans only impact legal ownership by law abiding citizens.
7. Criminals never worry about where they get the tools of their trade.
8. Disarming law abiding citizens only does nothing to reduce crime, and
does, in fact increase crime by making crime less risky to the safety of
the criminal.

> 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?

Most large cities have far more restrictive gun laws than the states in
which they are located, and states and cities that are dominated by the
Democratic Party politically have far more restrictive gun laws than
those that are not (note that most laws restricting carrying of
concealed weapons date back to the passage of Jim Crow laws, to prevent
blacks from protecting themselves from KKK raiders, who were usually
armed by local law enforcement authorities.)

San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, St. Louis, and
many other such cities highly restrict the carrying of concealed weapons
by law abiding private citizens, if not banning such outright. These
cities also exhibit the highest violent crime rates. If you remove the
crime data originating from such restrictive jurisdictions from US
violent crime rates, you will find that the corrected crime rate is far
lower than most other industrialized nations (you will also find that
removing these large democrat controlled cities from the mix helps to
make the US demographics to compare more similarly to other
industrialized nations).

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