The more guns there are, the more people will die The logic underpinning the Shooters Party appears to be that there are ''good'' shooters who are licensed and ''bad'' shooters who are not, with all weapons being neutral (Letters, September 8). From this we reach the inescapable conclusion that in the United States, where the gun lobby controls government policy, the average citizen is so violent that he is 25 times more likely to kill somebody with a gun than those of England and Wales, and 200 times more violent than those of Japan. Australia falls somewhere in between, with about 50 per cent more gun homicides than England. John Vigours Neutral BayI wonder if anyone at the SMH bothered to fact check these assertions before running this letter? I doubt it.
According to Wikipedia, which in the case of this article, gets its info from the FBI, the homicide rate in the US at present is about 5.5 per 100,000 people.
This quote is rather telling, but it is not often told:
It is quite common for crime in American cities to be highly concentrated in a few, often economically disadvantaged areas. For example, San Mateo County, California had a population of approximately 624,000 and 17 homicides in 2001. 6 of these 17 homicides took place in poor, largely African and Hispanic American East Palo Alto, which had a population of roughly 30,000. So, while East Palo Alto accounted for 4.8% of the population, about one-third of the homicides took place there.I think it was Mark Steyn who pointed out that if you took out the black-on-black homicides from the statistics, white Americans are less homicidal than their neighbours in Canada!
Anyway, England has a homicide rate of 1.4 per 100,000, compared to 5.5 in the US. That means the US rate is 3.9 times higher - not 25 times higher, as asserted by John Vigours. He's only out by a factor of 963 - oops, I mean 6.4. I started to use the Vigours method of hyperbole there for a moment.
It is worth mentioning though that Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, had a homicide rate of 5.5 only a decade ago - the same as the US.
Ponder this as well:
But murder rates for both countries are now changing. In 1981 the American rate was 8.7 times the English rate, in 1995 it was 5.7 times the English rate, and by last year it was 3.5 times. With American rates described as "in startling free-fall" and British rates as of October 2002 the highest for 100 years the two are on a path to converge.And:
In fact, the most common weapon used in a violent crime in England and Wales is not a gun - but a knife. There are four times more knife-related killings as firearms-related killings.Also worthy of mention is that the New England region of the US has the lowest crime rate in the country. New England states, like New Hampshire, have "open carry" laws, allowing citizens to openly carry weapons in public.
Baltimore has a shocking crime rate - the homicide rate there is 43.5 per 100,000, compared to the nationwide average of 5.5. Maybe Mr Vigours got his factor of 25 by cherry-picking a number like that. What Mr Vigours missed is that Baltimore is also 64.8% black. If Mr Vigours was being honest, his headline would read, "The more blacks there are, the more people will die".
Yes, that's a shockingly non-PC thing to write, but look at the numbers and tell me that I am wrong. 52.1% of those committing homicide between 1974 and 2004 were black. I guess most of those were gang-bangers shooting other gang-bangers over drugs, women, petty disputes in nightclub queues and so on; not middle class black accountants shooting other middle class black businessmen for instance. The usual feral mix of gangs, drugs, piss poor education, ghettos and the "respect" mentality may be to blame.
Speaking of guns, the SMH reported back in 2006 that the guns buyback had no impact on the murder rate. Here is our murder rate over time by the way (damn, forgot to save the link).
And who can forget the old precaution about lies, lies and statistics:
The murder rates of the U.S. and U.K. are also affected by differences in the way each counts homicides. The FBI asks police to list every homicide as murder, even if the case isn't subsequently prosecuted or proceeds on a lesser charge, making the U.S. numbers as high as possible. By contrast, the English police "massage down" the homicide statistics, tracking each case through the courts and removing it if it is reduced to a lesser charge or determined to be an accident or self-defense, making the English numbers as low as possible.As to Mr Vigours assertion about Japan, the homicide rate there is 1.1 per 100,000. Hmm, so the yanks are only 5 times more violent than the Japs, not 200 times as Mr Vigours states. Japans low crime rate is often described as a result of the society being very homogeneous - ie, they don't have all those pesky minorities that murder each other with such frequency in the US, and more often, in the UK.
And as usual, it is worth looking at where the worst rates of homicide are in Australia:
Paul Wilson (1982), for example, found that across seventeen Queensland Aboriginal settlements between late 1978 and mid–1981, the homicide rate was 39.6 per 100,000—more than twelve times the Queensland average. The author’s own figures for one remote settlement indicated a rate at one stage of over 400 per 100,000 (Martin 1988).In many cases, this is a result of drunken Aboriginal males killing their female partner.
That puts our worst settlements on par with the most violent cities in the US. Funnily enough, I doubt many of those Aboriginal women are shot - I bet most are stabbed, strangled or beaten to death. So Mr Vigours assertion that "The more guns there are, the more people will die" is just so plain wrong. If anything, arming Aboriginal women with handguns may do more to reduce the homicide rate than any other measure. Sure, they might have to shoot quite a few drunken males, but after a while, the lesson might sink in.