Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Great Gun Survey - UK Style

For months now I've been hearing about the UK from my gun enthusiast friends. According to them, England is a living example of what they don't want to happen to America, as far as gun laws go. I've heard about how the gun restrictions there have not worked, how the criminals have learned to resort to knives instead, crime has risen, I thought I'd heard it all. Then, more recently, a few comments have intimated that Merry Old England is on the brink of tyranny. The idea is that now that the government has succeeded with draconian gun laws to disarm the citizens, unimpeded tyranny is right around the corner.

This led me to begin conducting an unofficial opinion poll of British folks I know or cross paths with here in Italy, not unlike the Great Gun Survey we took part in some time ago. Not a single one so far has agreed with the alarmist opinions of the pro-gun Americans, not one. Most acknowledge that the video surveillance London has become famous for is Big Brotherish, but none expressed serious concern that combined with the gun laws, this places their liberty at risk. They all seem to think that fewer guns overall means less gun crime. Of course, you might say, I'm talking to the wrong people. Im sure Tom has some partners in the UK who would give me an earful.

So I asked myself where can I check this out. I mean, the Brady Blog can't be trusted to provide fair information, nor could the Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog. So I did what any computer savvy truth seeker does in cases like this: I consulted Wikipedia. Now I expected to find nothing useful, figuring the "Gun Laws in the UK" article would have been written by one of the gun guys, but here's what I came up with.

The homicide rate for London was 2.4 per 100,000 in the same year (1.7 when excluding the 7 July bombings). By comparison, 5.5 murders per 100,000 of population were reported by police in the United States in 2004.
The article from which that quote comes contains a dizzying array of statistics, furthering my dislike and distrust of them. Nevertheless, the implication of the simple comparison quoted above is obvious and clear: more guns means more gun crime.

More than any stats, I value the personal opinions of the Royal British Subjects I've spoken with. They feel safer as a result of the gun laws.

What's your opinion? Please let us know.


  1. Sorry Mike, but I trust statistics more then personal opinion.

    From NationMaster Crime stats
    Assaults per Capita
    #6 US: 7.56923 per 1,000
    #7 New Zealand:7.47881 per 1,000
    #8 UK:7.45959 per 1,000

    Burglaries per Capita
    #7 U.K. 13.8321 per 1,000 people
    #9 Canada:8.94425 per 1,000 people
    #17 US: 7.09996 per 1,000 people

    Car Thefts Per Capita
    #3 UK 5.6054 per 1,000 people
    #9 US: 3.8795 per 1,000 people

    #1 United Kingdom: 3,261
    America doesn't make the top 39 countries.

    Total Crimes Per Capita
    #6 UK: 85.5517 per 1,000 people
    #8 US: 80.0645 per 1,000 people

    Now all those crime stats, but what about how people "feel", those have been measured also

    I like this one...DEFINITION: Proportion of people in international Crime Victims Survey 2000 who say police do a good job in controlling crime in their area.
    #1 United States: 89%
    #6 United Kingdom: 72%

    17% more people believe that the police in America do a good job in controlling crime in their area. Doesn't that mean people in America "feel" safer?

    Another stat showing crime is more of a problem or the efficiency of the prosecutors and police
    Convicted Per Capita
    #5 UK: 23.1345 per 1,000 people
    The United States doesn't make the top 56 countries.

    So, is there less crime in the UK then America?
    Total Crime Victims
    #1 Australia: 30.1%
    #2 New Zealand: 29.4%
    #3 United Kingdom: 26.4%
    #15 United States: 21.1%

    Guess what the top 3 have in common?

    Feelings are great, as a song by Barry Manilow. Facts are the evidence that should be used in making policy decisions, especially ones that violate peoples basic human rights.

    Sorry for all the stats, but it was needed to counter the argument.

  2. Just curious, but what is untrustworthy of the Civlian Self Defense Blog? It's simply a collection of self defense news stories with links to the papers who published them.

    My only fault with it is if you're looking for Data, the plural of anecdote, is not data.

    "I value the personal opinions of the Royal British Subjects I've spoken with. They feel safer as a result of the gun laws."

    I value their opinions as well, and respect their choice to be British Subjects...I don't agree with that choice, and I am fighting to keep what I see as backwards and wrong-headed. Also I think of this photo by Oleg Volk when I hear the like "Feeling Safe"

    There is really no point to feeling safe when you're in grave danger. Of course if you're not aware of the danger you feel better about it. Maybe that's why the UK Home office, by their own admission, choose to mislead the public about their own violent crime rate.

    Some very valid points Made, Mike. In the end, I want to BE safe (of course pure safety has never existed, so I'll make do with the most safety I can enjoy while still living my life) Not "Feel Safe".

  3. More than any stats, I value the personal opinions of the Royal British Subjects I've spoken with.

    that's odd, because you often seem like you don't very much value our personal opinions. what are we, chopped liver?

    i don't much trust comparisons of statistics from across national borders, as perhaps i've mentioned. i've crossed national borders enough that i don't think such statistics can be really comparable. but if we must insist on trying, we might notice one thing: the UK has always had lower crime, by several measures, than the USA.

    laws in both countries have changed over time, weapons have been more and less commonplace in both countries as firearms laws have evolved, and crime figures have gone up and down on both sides of the Atlantic. but the UK almost always has had lower crime than the USA, regardless --- specifically, violent crimes and homicides.

    that's both interesting and not, because such crimes have two relevant qualities: they're not going to be made less illegal, no matter how the laws might change, since everyone always fears them; and they're socially condemned to such a degree that nobody ever thinks they're anything but unlawful, no matter how the legal system might be functioning at the time. they're the kinds of crimes that make people both feel unsafe and be unsafe, and the workings of the legislatures are largely irrelevant to how they're handled socially.

    so if a country has high levels of violent crimes, you can really only blame the laws so far for it, and not very far at that. similarly, if a country has low levels of such, the details of that country's laws are probably not responsible for it.

    so what's up with safety and crime in the UK, as compared to the USA? i dunno, i've never lived in the UK. but if it has anything at all to do with their firearms laws, i'll have to buy myself a hat so i can eat it. what individual UK subjects might feel about gun laws is honestly quite irrelevant --- gun laws in the UK were not always significantly stricter than those in the USA, yet the UK has always had less violent crime.


    More guns will lead to more gun crime by the nature of the fact that some people will keep guns anyway, making them "gun criminals".

    How about we stick with "violent crimes" not "gun crimes" as you are CHERRY PICKING DATA TO SUIT YOUR BELIEFS.


    From my friend in NORTHAMPTON, UK. A farmer for what it's worth, providing silly people in London QUANGOS with their daily bread as of email this morn, completely unrelated to your posting, coming as part or our routine correspondence.

    Our handgun ban has left us defenceless against bad guys of all persuasions,

    --My friend Theo Spark.

  5. For what it's worth, to take this to extremes:

    Abos in Oz and Maori in NZ are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime, violent and non-violent. There is a disproportionate amount of violent crime in the UK committed by the darker complected immigrants of various persuasions.

    Would it not then be prudent to summarily execute all peoples with a high statistical potential of engaging or later engaging in criminal/violent criminal behaviors?

    Don't mind me, just trying to help the UK become more "safe".

  6. wow! bobs statistics, if true, were quite the eye opener...

  7. Bob, I'm dizzy from the stats. The truth is, I don't have the time or the desire to invest as much time into researching and analyzing as it would take to engage in the kind of discussion you'd like. That's not to say I'm just shooting any old nonsense off the top of my head. But, if you need me to go blow by blow with you on the stats, I can't do it. Remember, you are much more passionate about this than I am. My blog is for entertainment purposes only; it's limited to stuff that interests me.

    Weer'd, The two sites I mentioned cannot be trusted to provide fair and neutral info for the simple reason that they are biased. The pro-gun blog actually admits as much. Their whole purpose is to provide that one type of story. I'm not expecting them or asking them to report on criminal gun violence. That's not their thing.

    Nomen, You gave me a good smile when you said, "that's odd, because you often seem like you don't very much value our personal opinions. what are we, chopped liver?"

    I guess I could admit that I don't very much value your pesonal opinions when they differ from mine. (Actually, I do value them and recognize you have the right to feel any way you want.)

    I truly value your opinion on capital punishment. Isn't that the nature of disagreement?

  8. I truly value your opinion on capital punishment.

    So you want to ride the Spanish Donkey for treasonous behavior to all of human society?

    I can supply a webcam, if you can't.



    An orderly discussion of bunk data done by Uncle. I feel its pretty well explains how the game is played and what groups choose Ignorance over fact for political reasons.

    Maybe you'll enjoy it, Mike.

  10. Mike,

    Due to my "discussions" at One Utah, I've developed a few resources to find those types of statistics easily. So, I don't expect everyone to have numbers as readily available. If you don't think the numbers are accurate, challenge me on them. Make me find other sources to verify them.

    That is what I've asked of you when you've thrown out numbers before, I don't expect any less of a challenge for any number I produce.

    As far as the numbers from UK being accurate, surprise I'll admit that I don't believe they are....they are too low.

    Police figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that forces in England and Wales are on course to record a total of 38,000 serious knife crimes this year – more than 100 a day.

    The figure is at least two-thirds higher than last year's total of 22,151 offences, announced by the Home Office in July when it unveiled its first annual count of knife crimes.

    The sharp rise has come about because ministers have changed the counting rules, in response to complaints that key categories of crime were excluded from last year's total.


    The government is to change the way crime statistics are recorded after admitting they give a false picture of the true extent of criminal activity.

    Yesterday the Home Office issued a joint statement with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), saying crime recorded by the police "falls very significantly short" of that experienced by the public. The admission comes before an HMIC report that will disclose the true crime figures are at least 20 per cent higher than those recorded by the police.

    Mike, as far as valuing personal opinions that differ, each person has to determine how much to place on another person's opinion. I enjoy people that challenge my opinion, my perspective because it makes me examine mine that much more.
    Socrates said "An unexamined life is not worth living". I guess I've taken that to heart.

    Take what you can out of what people say, if nothing else I'll keep posting so hopefully someone, might even be you, will see something that changes their mind.

  11. Weer'd, I guess you were being sarcastic when you said I might enjoy the Say Uncle site, but in fact I immediately bookmarked it because it said on the top of the sidebar what I want to remind you of:

    Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

  12. No I meant it in all honesty. I felt he really cooked down the basic discourse to a very simple and easy level, and I know your "head spins" when we get too deep into the numbers (I don't blame you, stats can be overwhelming, and even as a scientist I can get over my head)

    Glad you enjoyed it, and I do like that quote. Its something all bloggers should take to heart.

    Also, Bob, that Socrates quote is great! I'd never heard it before.

    I also highly value different opinions. The Pride and Joy of my Blog is how varied in all demographics my readers are, and how respectful they all are of other's opinions.

    Since I've been wrong in the past, its obvious I can be wrong again in the future, but almost all of those mistakes were poited out to me by others. So I value their discourse highly.

  13. Mike,

    A slightly dated but accurate article for your perusal, with a few quotes:

    Wouldn’t you feel safer with a gun?
    British attitudes are supercilious and misguided

    Richard Munday

    Despite the recent spate of shootings on our streets, we pride ourselves on our strict gun laws. Every time an American gunman goes on a killing spree, we shake our heads in righteous disbelief at our poor benighted colonial cousins. Why is it, even after the Virginia Tech massacre, that Americans still resist calls for more gun controls?

    The short answer is that “gun controls” do not work: they are indeed generally perverse in their effects. Virginia Tech, where 32 students were shot in April, had a strict gun ban policy and only last year successfully resisted a legal challenge that would have allowed the carrying of licensed defensive weapons on campus....

    One might contrast the Virginia Tech massacre with the assault on Virginia’s Appalachian Law School in 2002, where three lives were lost before a student fetched a pistol from his car and apprehended the gunman.

    In Britain, however, the image of violent America remains unassailably entrenched. Never mind the findings of the International Crime Victims Survey (published by the Home Office in 2003), indicating that we now suffer three times the level of violent crime committed in the United States; never mind the doubling of handgun crime in Britain over the past decade, since we banned pistols outright and confiscated all the legal ones.

    Gun controls disarm only the law-abiding, and leave predators with a freer hand. Nearly two and a half million people now fall victim to crimes of violence in Britain every year, more than four every minute: crimes that may devastate lives. It is perhaps a privilege of those who have never had to confront violence to disparage the power to resist.