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Myth #3: Gun Control Has Reduced The Crime Rates In Other Countries

Monday, 29 September 2008 00:00

  1. Fact: The murder rates in many nations (such as England) were ALREADY LOW BEFORE enacting gun control. Thus, their restrictive laws cannot be credited with lowering their crime rates.1
  2. Fact: Gun control has done nothing to keep crime rates from rising in many of the nations that have imposed severe firearms restrictions.
  3. Fact: British authorities routinely underreport crime statistics. Comparing statistics between different nations can be quite difficult since foreign officials frequently use different standards in compiling crime statistics.
  4. Fact: Many nations with stricter gun control laws have violence rates that are equal to, or greater than, that of the United States. Consider the following rates:
High Gun
Ownership Countries
Low Gun
Ownership Countries
Country Suicide Homicide Total* Country Suicide Homicide Total*
Switzerland 21.4 2.7 24.1 Denmark 22.3 4.9 27.2
U.S. 11.6 7.4 19.0 France 20.8 1.1 21.9 Israel 6.5 1.4 7.9 Japan** 16.7 0.6 17.3 * The figures listed in the table are the rates per 100,000 people. ** Suicide figures for Japan also include many homicides. Source for table: U.S. figures for 1996 are taken from the Statistical Abstract of the U.S. and FBI Uniform Crime Reports. The rest of the table is taken from the UN 1996 Demographic Yearbook (1998), cited at 6. Fact: The United States has experienced far fewer TOTAL MURDERS than Europe does over the last 70 years. In trying to claim that gun-free Europe is more peaceful than America, gun control advocates routinely ignore the overwhelming number of murders that have been committed in Europe. * Over the last 70 years, Europe has averaged about 400,000 murders per year, when one includes the murders committed by governments against mostly unarmed people.17 That murder rate is about 16 times higher than the murder rate in the U.S.18 * Why hasn't the United States experienced this kind of government oppression? Many reasons could be cited, but the Founding Fathers indicated that an armed populace was the best way of preventing official brutality. Consider the words of James Madison in Federalist 46: Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger . . . a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands.19 1Kleck, Point Blank, at 393, 394; Colin Greenwood, Chief Inspector of West Yorkshire Constabulary, Firearms Control: A Study of Armed Crime and Firearms Control in England and Wales (1972):31; David Kopel, The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies (1992):91, 154. 2Dr. John R. Lott, Jr., "Gun laws don't reduce crime," USA Today (May 9, 2002). See also Rhett Watson and Matthew Bayley, "Gun crime up 40pc since Port Arthur," The Daily Telegraph (April 28, 2002). 3 Gary A. Mauser, "The Failed Experiment: Gun Control and Public Safety in Canada, Australia, England and Wales," Public Policy Sources (The Fraser Institute, November 2003), no. 71:4. This study can be accessed at 4"Handgun crime 'up' despite ban," BBC News Online (July 16, 2001) at England is a prime example of how crime has increased after implementing gun control. For example, the original Pistols Act of 1903 did not stop murders from increasing on the island. The number of murders in England was 68 percent higher the year after the ban's enactment (1904) as opposed to the year before (1902). (Greenwood, supra note 1.) This was not an aberration, as almost seven decades later, firearms crimes in the U.K. were still on the rise: the number of cases where firearms were used or carried in a crime skyrocketed almost 1,000 percent from 1946 through 1969. (Greenwood, supra note 1 at 158.) And by 1996, the murder rate in England was 132 percent higher than it had been before the original gun ban of 1903 was enacted. (Compare Greenwood, supra note 1, with Bureau of Justice Statistics, Crime and Justice in the United States and in England and Wales, 1981-96, Bureau of Justice Statistics, October 1998). 5"Crime rising in Japan, while arrests at record low: police," AFP News (August 3, 2001); "A crime wave alarms Japan, once gun-free," The Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 July 1992. 6"Most Crime Worse in England Than US, Study Says," Reuters (October 11, 1998). See also Bureau of Justice Statistics, Crime and Justice in the United States and in England and Wales, 1981-96 (October 1998). 7See BJS study, supra note 6 at iii. 8John van Kesteren, Pat Mayhew and Paul Nieuwbeerta, "Criminal Victimisation in Seventeen Industrialised Courtries: Key findings from the 2000 International Crime Victims Survey," (2000). This study can be read at The link is to the ICVS homepage; study data are available for download as Acrobat pdf files. 9Ian Henry and Tim Reid, "Crime figures a sham, say police," The Electronic Telegraph (April 1, 1996). 10Tim Reid, "Police are accused of fiddling crime data," The Electronic Telegraph (May 4, 1997). 11John Steele, "Police figures under-record offences by 20 percent," The Electronic Telegraph (July 13, 2000). 12See supra note (Crime figures a sham...) 13Ibid. 14Ibid. 15See supra note (fiddling). 16Dave Kopel, Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne Eisen, "Britain: From Bad to Worse," (March 22, 2001). 17The number of people killed by their own government in Europe averages about 400,000 for the last 70 years. This includes Hitler's extermination of Jews, gypsies and other peoples (20,946,000); Stalin's genocide against the Ukrainian kulaks (6,500,000); and more. R.J. Rummel, Death by Government (2000), pp. 8 and 80. 18At our historic worst, murders in the United States approached 25,000 in 1993 -- or 23,180 to be exact. So even applying our highest single-year tally over the past 70 years would mean that Europeans have experienced 16 times as many murders as we have in the United States. 19THE FEDERALIST 46 (James Madison).