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US v European crime

To follow up on the discussion under Good news on guns, which drifted (and I do mean drifted) into comparisons of US and European crime and the unfortunate concentration of violent criminal activity in the US in the black community, I ran across a summary of statistics at the Useful Fools blog. You really should read the whole thing, but the relevant points are:

Here are Interpol 2001 crime statistics (rate per 100,000):

4161 – US
7736 – Germany
6941 – France
9927 – England and Wales

Thus the US has a substantially lower crime rate than the major European countries!

. . .

[The US] murder rate is high largely due to the multicultural nature of our society. Inner city blacks, members of a distinct subculture, have a vastly higher criminal and victim homicide rate than our society as an average:

Homicide Offender Rate/100,000 by Race in US (2000):

3.4 – White
25.8 – Black
3.2 – Other

It is often hypothesized that blacks are overrepresented in murder statistics due to racism on the part of police and the justice system. If this were true, one would expect that the race of victims would have significantly different distribution than the race of the perpetrators, but this is not the case:

Homicide Victim Rate/100,000 by Race in US (2000):

3.3 – White
20.5 – Black
2.7 – Other

Thus if you remove homicides committed by blacks (total: 21862, Blacks:9316), and assume a proportionality between number of offenders and number of offenses, you can extrapolate US homicide offender rate of only 2.6/100,000, lower than Germany (3.27) and France (3.91).

I asked John Moore, the author of the Useful Fools post, to give us links to the studies or data that he used, but he replied that he had gathered the numbers from a Interpol and FBI stats without keeping the links. Tsk, tsk, John! I had hoped to track down the data myself, but have been unable to do so, and am unlikely to get a chance anytime soon. The data is consistent with a number of other items that I have read over the years, so I think its legit, but caveat blogster.

The data can be read to support any number of things, as I am sure the comment mob will demonstrate soon. I tend to look at it as consistent with my preconceptions (yet another reason why I think that the data is probably good – it makes me look smart!). First and foremost, though, I think it refutes the notion that “cowboy” America is a violent and dangerous place. It is also consistent with the view that, in America at least, more gun control equals more crime, as the high crime areas (large urban centers) labor for the most part under the very restrictive gun controls (and have for decades).

In short, it is safer to be free and self-reliant (that is, armed) than to trust the state to provide safety and security from crime.

68 comments to US v European crime

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Very good posting here and the statistics, assuming they can be relied upon – are pretty devastating. The problem of violent crime among blacks in the inner cities of the US and in Britain is a subject that a lot of folk don’t want to discuss, either because it raises the risk of being branded a racist or because it will shaft the idea of America as a “gun-crazy” country. And it also reminds us that the War on Drugs remains a total disaster for the poor and vulnerable.

    In his recent disgraceful “documentary”, Michael Moore completed ignored this touchy issue of violence by blacks on blacks in his treatment of guns and violence.

    I have just ordered a copy of Joyce Lee Malcolm’s book on gun laws in the UK and the dusk jacket intro makes similar points to this post.

  • What?? No links!

    I can see what my next essay will be.

  • Edmund Burke

    I wonder what the French rate would be if the Arab and beur rate were removed from the stats. I very much doubt the French keep these sort of figures though.

  • I bet the French do compile those statistics, but keep them secret, Edmund!

    A friend told me that though Michael Moore’s documentary slurs Charlton Heston with racism by crafty editing of his words (I saw that much) Heston in fact helped desegregate Hollywood in the 60s (the bit I didn’t check) and was active in the black civil rights movement. True?

    Not wishing to carp, but I thought that “crimes per 100,000” was a bit on the vague side as a category….

  • Paul P

    Not all libertarians are in favour of guns. The US is not the only multicultural place (1 in 4 Londoners are either black or brown) and the
    relative homicide statistics profile are similar to the UK’s only that there are far fewer murders in the UK.

    That said, the UK’s gun laws are /far/ too strict.

  • RK Jones

    For those who are interested in the raw stats, they are available at Interpol

    Click on the International Crime Statistics link on the left sidebar.

    RK Jones

  • Personnaly I think guns have nothing to do with it – america has always had legal guns and has had some periods of high crime (including in the white community e.g. 30’s) some of low.

    If crime is lower in the states than Europe it is simply because civil society is stronger – guns havenothing to do with it. Infact they’re just a side effect – because the US has a strong civil society it can have liberal gun control. Because civil society in Britqain has largely broken down, you’d have to be a lunatic to liberalise guns.

  • R.C. Dean

    I know, I know, no links bad, R.C. Dean bad, but this post sat in draft form for a week and there was no prospect of me getting it out anytime soon if I tracked down the info myself. I must confess that I thought the comment mob might be induced to do the heavy Google lifting for me (hint, hint).

  • S. Weasel

    mark: yep. Heston was one of a few celebrities who marched on Washington with Martin Luther King in 1963, before the negro became fashionable.

    Gun nut and broadly jingoistic American that I am, I feel compelled to point out that the US murder rate is, and always has been, extraordinarily high compared to other Western nations. Remove violence by inner city blacks and the numbers are better…but still disproportionately high. It’s not guns, either – take those away and we’ll beat each other to death with a chair leg.

    Probably a cultural thing.

  • R.C. Dean

    “Remove violence by inner city blacks and the numbers are better…but still disproportionately high.”

    I’m not so sure that they are disproportionately high, S. W. – if John’s numbers are right, the murder rate is lower than that of France and Germany (although I don’t know what would happen if you “adjusted” French and German statistics in a comparable fashion).

    Paul P. – I am a little puzzled on how any libertarian could not be “in favor of guns” in the sense of in favor of private ownership of guns.

  • S. Weasel

    if John’s numbers are right, the murder rate is lower than that of France and Germany

    Well, per the first set of numbers, the “crime” rate is lower – whatever that means specifically.

    After breaking down the US rate by race, he goes on to calculate: “Thus if you remove homicides committed by blacks (total: 21862, Blacks:9316), and assume a proportionality between number of offenders and number of offenses, you can extrapolate US homicide offender rate of only 2.6/100,000, lower than Germany (3.27) and France (3.91).”

    That’s a little fiddly for my taste. Particularly, as you say, without France and Germany being able to adjust their numbers by ethnicity, as well.

  • Lisa

    So how do you explain Japan’s extremely low crime rate? They’re probably the most vociferous gun control advocates around.

  • Lisa, so how do you explain Switzerland’s extremely low crime rate? They’re probably the most vociferous gun control opponents around.

  • lucklucky

    yeah the data is in Interpol page.

    About murder rate what i want to know is that the number of “bad guys/gurls” that are killed dunno how statistics reflect that.

    For the sake of argument if a country has 4000 deaths due to crime and all of them are criminals and another has “only” 400 but all of them are innocents then i prefer the country with 4000

  • Obedience to authority does sound a rather basic element of Japanese culture to me.

    I’ve never been, but have heard stories from friends about yakuza gangsters having offices which are in the Tokyo phonebook, and after really serious offences the police pop over for a chat. I can’t quite imagine you look them up under E for Exortion or H for hoodlum, but it does sound like many Japanese people would rather die horribly than be accused of doing something unJapanese, whatever that might be at the time.

    Then there are the safety valves – the coin-operated vending machines where people can buy knickers worn once by teenage girls (to sniff them), and the extraordinary manga cartoon comics, some of which carry pornographic violence — flying girls depicted as growing butterfly wings, being tortured by having serrated knives pushed up their vaginas and so on — openly bought and read at railway stations, so friends tell me.

    The Japanese had a firearms ban for over a century at one point, because the Samurai warrior class were disgusted and outraged that a commoner without a sword could fight on equal terms with a samurai of noble class.

    An unusual country, I think.

  • Tony H

    To echo S.Weasel, I suspect it’s a cultural thing: they’re more homogeneous, and simply better at being civil to one another. But I also suspect one reason the Japanese are behind various UN (etc) moves to tighten gun control is that in recent years more of their citizens have had the temerity to arm themselves, in response to a growing tendency by professional criminals to use guns. This seems very alarming to their still paternalistic, authoritarian political class.
    RCD’s interesting figures reminded me of the Int’l Crime Victimisation Survey in early 1998, produced in (I think) Canada, which produced conclusions shocking to many especially in e.g. the UK & Canada – a country that is perhaps rather complacent about crime vis-a-vis its big neighbour. Summary:
    The highest incidence of violent crime in the industrialized world was in England and Wales.
    Canadians suffer as much violent crime as Americans, and morenon-violent crime.
    Crimes of all sorts, including murder, are lowest in those states with the highest rates of gun ownership
    The murder rates in other industrialized nations have inched closer to those in the U.S. despite various attempts to register all guns or license all gun owners, or even ban guns altogether.
    Burglaries in Canada are more than four times as likely to occur when the residents are home as they are in the U.S. (nb in UK it’s 4-5 times)
    States such as Vermont, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Montana, where gun ownership is at least twice what it is in Canada,have murder rates as low as one-half that in the provinces which are their immediate neighbours.

  • infamouse

    Not having guns will undoubtedly ensure a lower homicide rate. Except for one problem which the UK is experiencing far more than Europe: smuggling.

    When smuggling is extensive, then banning guns will just make crime worse. Given the Muslim underclass in Europe and the horrid economy, they’ve probably only begun to encounter the problems of the innercity. Once illegal guns become more common in Europe, the general populace will be at the mercy of the criminals.

  • RK Jones

    Lisa asked: So how do you explain Japan’s extremely low crime rate? They’re probably the most vociferous gun control advocates around.

    It’s a worthwhile question. Unfortunately, it can’t be explained simply by looking at differences in gun control policies.

    First, about 70% of murders in the U.S. are commited using a firearm(I’ll explain my data sources and methods at the bottom), so even if one removes all firearm related murders, the U.S. rate is still 60% higher than Japan’s.

    Second, if a simple correlation between firearm availability and murder existed, then one would expect to see it reflected broadly around the world, which isn’t the case. Scotland for instance, has almost identical regulations on the possession and use of weapons as its neighbors to the south and Ireland. However, Scotland’s murder rate is 15.28/100K, or nine and a half times that of the rest of the UK and Ireland. Sweden and Finland, while having fairly similar societies, differ widely in murder rates. Finland’s is 1.71/100K, Sweden’s is 10.01. (or almost 45% higher than the U.S.)

    My opinion is that the crime differences between nations are primarily cultural.

    The firearms homicide figures I used to obtain the 70% number above were gotten from the National Safety Council, via the 2002 World Almanac and Book of Facts, and are for the year 1998. (which sadly, I was unable to find online)

    RK Jones

  • d

    To the comment about “not all libertarians are in favor of guns”…

    Which ones? You?

  • Tom

    Giles says “… because the US has a strong civil society it can have liberal gun control.”

    Why can’t it be the other way around. [Partly] Because the US has had liberal gun control, it has a stronger civil society.

    Lisa asks “So how do you explain Japan’s extremely low crime rate?”

    Well, *explain* is too strong for what I know, but let me take a step towards generating hypotheses. Assume that societies have internal stresses that get resolved [in part] by forms of violence. My understanding is that if you add suicides to murders, and look at the total number of people deliberately killed by people [i.e., including people killing themselves], then Japan has a comparable or higher rate than the US. Which brings up an interesting point. In Godfather II, when the one gangster turns States evidence, and eventually gets visited by on old gangster buddy who says in essence “we’ve already proven we know your extended family, and you can’t go on testifying; show some loyalty like Roman heroes of old,” the gangster who was testifying commits suicide. I’m sure it gets counted as a suicide, but is that really some elaborate murder? The answer, at least in part, to Lisa’s question is definitely something about Japan being an outlier culture.

  • It seems Japan is naturally obedient society and has cultural aswell as legal horror of disorder.

    The country produces some of the most horrifically violent and misogynistic pornography in the world, but last I heard Japan has the lowest incidence of and highest conviction rate for rape of pretty much anywhere.

    Regarding arms control, wasn’t there was talk of people having to require a license to learn karate?

  • M. Simon

    It is a cultural thing. It is also a neighborhood thing. The violence is not only “cultural” it is also place specific. Most neighborhoods are “safe” a few are very dangerous.

    We do have a culture of violence in America. It is caused by vigorous prohibition enforcement in “certain” neighborhoods. We are always disrupting commerical black market networks. The networks are at their most violent during the formation stages. So each disruption causes violence to spike.

    It happened in our town a few years back with a large FBI type bust. In fact the local police predicted an increase in violence publicly.

    Milton Friedman says that at least 50% of our homicide rate is prohibition induced.

    At the turn of the century American homicide rate was 1 to 2 per 100,000. The rate rose during WW1 as it always does during a war. It started rising steeply during prohibition and peaked at about 10+. It fell back after prohibition ended. Rose during WW2. Fell back until Nixon started his drug war. Peaked at around 10 and is currently in the range of about 8 to 9.

  • As the author of the original post on Useful Fools, let me throw in a few comments…

    The national crime and homicide rate numbers came from here.

    I tried to find France’s rates by ethnicity, but if they exist they are not on the web. Based on what I have read and my experiences when living in France, I would suspect that a lot of French homicides are also ethnically tied.

    I didn’t try to find Germany’s rates by ethnicity. I ran out of time. I don’t know much about the number of non-German ethnics in Germany.

    The US crime rates by ethnicity were from US Department of Justice data on pages following this one in the same document. Clicking on the graphs brings up the raw data.

    I did not originally put in links because the whole thing started in my comment section while arguing in the comments section with a German lawyer about the absurdly low sentence given one of the 9-11 conspirators (15 years) in Germany. He then attacked the US and my state (Arizona) especially since we executed a couple of German murderers a few years back, and made a few stereotypical assertions about our crime rates.

    BTW… folks may find that discussion interesting… it wanders off into the terrorist associations of the German foreign minister, who is apparently a friend of my opponent. It ends with my opponent basically losing all self control and his argument disintegrating. It was fun (but time consuming).

    By the way, as an armed American, I have personally fired a weapon in self defense. It was quite successful. Like almost all such instances, nobody was harmed (although there may have been some soiled underwear of those who were attempting to attack me).

  • Big Daddy Cool

    We all need to take a look at the ICVS

    International Crime Victimisation Survey

    It measures victimisation rates, not police statistics (which are often cooked by governments for political purposes), and the results defy conventional wisdom.

    “The ICVS allows an overall measure of victimisation which is the percentage of people victimised once or more in the previous year by any of the eleven crimes covered by the survey. This prevalence measure is a simple but robust indicator of overall proneness to crime. The countries fall into three bands.
    Above 24% (victim of any crime in 1999): Australia, England and Wales, the Netherlands and Sweden
    20%-24% : Canada, Scotland, Denmark, Poland, Belgium, France, and USA
    Under 20% : Finland, Catalonia (Spain), Switzerland, Portugal, Japan and Northern Ireland. ”

    Contact Crime
    “An overall measure of contact crime was taken as robbery, assaults with force, and sexual assaults (against women only). The highest risks were in Australia, England and Wales, Canada, Scotland and Finland: over 3% were victims. This was more than double the level in USA, Belgium, Catalonia, Portugal, and Japan (all under 2%). In Japan the risk of contact crime was especially low (0.4%). ”

    “Women in Sweden, Finland, Australia and England and Wales were most at risk of sexual assault. Women in Japan, Northern Ireland, Poland and Portugal were least at risk.”

    Also the intentional deaths rate (murder + homicide + war) rate is informative. (Hope you can see the graph without registration)

    There is Finland again!

    Statistics on intentional injury

  • Tony H

    Baffled by Infamouse’s ideas. “Not having guns will undoubtedly ensure a lower homicide rate” – ? Where do you get this from? As brought up here and elsewhere many times, societies with a heavily armed populace (Finland, Switzerland, certain US states, etc) are often more peaceable than neighbouring states with oppressive gun controls. The UK is experiencing (firearms) smuggling “far more than Europe” (presumably meaning Continental Europe, the UK not being part of Australasia for example) – ? Who says? The flow of (unlicenced) firearms into W.Europe from the former WarPac states is an established phenomenon: and while police seizures (for example) prove the widespread nature of firearms smuggling into UK, getting firearms across the land frontiers of the Continent is far easier. In any case, much of the Continent is still awash with the huge firearms flotsam of WW2 – believe me, they’re everywhere.
    “Muslim underclass” – ? Paranoia – it’s an odd & disturbing factor in France (N.Africans) and Germany (Turkish gastarbeiter & their offspring) but not all that significant politically or strategically.
    “Horrid economy” – ? Germany is no.3 in the world, UK no.4, France I think no.5, not as good as they might be but not exactly on the brink of collapse.
    And “illegal” (i.e. unlicenced) guns are, as I ‘ve suggested above, extremely widespread and have been for a very long time: e.g. when shotgun licencing was introduced in 1967 (could be acquired virtually unchecked ’til then) only around 100,000 semi-auto shotguns were subsequently declared, out of 300,000 known to have been imported according to gun-trade figures… And in the half dozen UK firearms amnesties since WW2, well over a quarter million weapons were surrendered, air pistols to sub-guns and bazookas – so one wonders how many more remain un-surrendered…
    I could go on, but you get my drift.

  • R.C. Dean

    Just look at the data falling out of the skies! I should post unattributed speculation more often!

    Thanks, John, for recreating your research. Thanks also to the other commenters for their contribution.

  • R.C. Dean

    Just look at the data falling out of the skies! I should post unattributed speculation more often!

    Thanks, John, for recreating your research. Thanks also to the other commenters for their contribution.

  • RK Jones

    On a statistical note, I just noticed that some of the number from the original piece don’t add up.

    Homicide Victim Rate/100,000 by Race in US (2000):

    3.3 – White
    20.5 – Black
    2.7 – Other

    Thus if you remove homicides committed by blacks (total: 21862, Blacks:9316), and assume a proportionality between number of offenders and number of offenses, you can extrapolate US homicide offender rate of only 2.6/100,000, lower than Germany (3.27) and France (3.91).

    The homicide victim rate figures are from 2000. I don’t have a link for these figures. The number of total homicides in the next sentence is very high however. The interpol numbers show a total of 13230 homicides for 2000. In fact, the U.S. hasn’t had anywhere 22000 homicides since 1995. After the removal of black homicides, the result is compared to the interpol data for Germany and France for what appears to be the year 2001. Assuming that U.S. homicide data is for 1995, the comparable rates for France and Germany should be 4.86/100K and 4.42/100K, respectively.

    RK Jones

  • The numbers I used on the ethnic breakdown are homicide OFFENDER rates, which is not the same thing as a homicide rate.

    Thus the extrapolation is a bit subtle.

  • “[The US] murder rate is high largely due to the multicultural nature of our society.”


    I’m dissappointed, I never thought such a blatantly racist view would be given support here. What’s gotten into your heads?

    “well the crime rate would be lower if it weren’t for the n*ggers”…nah, f__k that.

  • R.C. Dean

    b-psycho, try to comprehend what the data says and what interpretation(s) people on this thread are putting on the data.

    The data demonstrates pretty conclusively that the black community in the US hosts a highly disproportionate number of both perpetrators and victims of homicide. It is not racist to observe this pattern in the data. What is your explanation for this pattern? Do you dispute the data? If so, why?

    People are drawing a number of conclusions from it. I personally think it tends to refute the idea that American society as a whole is violent.

    No one is saying that it is something genetic or inherent to black people. Nearly everyone who has speculated on causes has spoken in terms of culture – surely you wouldn’t dispute that culture contributes to violence. Other observations might tie it to poverty. I haven’t seen a single comment that I think could fairly be called racist.

    Although yours is easily the least thoughtful comment on the thread.

  • S. Weasel

    So, b, how do you explain the statistics for the disproportionate number of black offenders?

    a) it’s simply not true. You can’t trust The Man or his numbers.

    b) it is true, but they have every reason to be ten times crankier than the rest of us.

    c) it is true, but we dare not speak of such things, for, yea, it is forbidden unto us.

    d) how do I know? I just like throwing the N word around whenever this topic comes up.

  • By the way, the numbers for the white crime rates are inflated in the FBI UCR, because Hispanics are counted as “white” when they’re offenders, but Hispanic when they’re victims of hate crimes.

    It’s the truth – check out the Uniform crime reports website if you don’t believe me.

    If you calculate the Hispanic crime rate separately (e.g. by using NCVS data), you will find that it is also substantially higher than the white average, but not as high as the black average. Also, Asians commit crimes at *lower* rates than whites.

  • 1, This is a highly inforrmative exchange, and the comparative statistics about different crime rates are especially revealing. There is another source, maybe even better, than Interpol for such comparative work: the ICVS, The international Cime Victimization Survey, a UN-sponsored survey carried out every 4-5 years by a Dutch university team. They have been since 1989, and distinguish various kinds of crimes and victimization.

    See http://www.minjust.nl/b_organ/wodc/publicaties/rapporten/pubrapp/ob187.htmhttp://www.minjust.nl/b_organ/wodc/publicaties/rapporten/pubrapp/ob187.htm

    2) Note the stress on victimization.

    Unlike Interpol — which uses police reports — the Dutch study does what the US also does (no doubt other countries too): it uses random survey techniques to probe the citizenry of various countries about the level and rate of their being victims of crime: all sorts, violent and otherwise.

    It surveys about 24 industrial countries, though the number surveyed does vary since 1989.

    Not the least valuable part of the surveys is that they also probe the attitudes of different populations towards the performance of their police, and the extent to which people are fearful or confident about going out into public spaces.

    The US population shows the least woories about going out into such public spaces — downtown, cinemas, restaurants, sport events, walks in streets etc — and shares with one other country the highest levels of confidence in their police.

    3) A professor of political science at UC Santa Barbara, I’ve drawn on these studies for posting at two sites:

    I) The first is gordon-newspost, a listserver subcscription that ran for four years or so, with several other subscribers world-wide. (The listserver ended in January this year, though thousands of discussions are catalogued by google.)

    You can find discussions of the survey findings and their implications at these gordon-newspost links:






    You might find the references to a good study by a US scholar on murder in Britain (and the US), and how the efforts to control guns in Britain since WWI — until which time there was no control — have coincided with a steady rise and even leap recently in homicide.

    See https://mail.lsit.ucsb.edu/pipermail/gordon-newspost/2002-May/002612.html

    II) Since January of this year, gordon-newspost has been replaced by a web site,


    On July 1st this year, the site was shut down by a hacker for a couple of weeks, and some of the archives are still scrambled since the return at a new webhosting site on July 14th. That means the references to US crime and elsewhere are hard to pin down, but you might — if you’re interested — find these references left at Jane Galt’s site by me ia couple of weeks ago useful in connection with the topic under discussion here:


    Scroll down using edit/find to the buggy professor selection.

    Needless to say, at the buggy site you can leave comments . . . including, if you want, about the gordon-newspost articles.

    — Michael Gordon
    the buggy prof

  • Ol' Southern Boy

    I notice a lot of Europeans bitch about the fact that Americans own lots of firearms. One big reason we have them (myself included) is for personal protection. While many point to the number of gun deaths in the US (about 40-60K/year, off the top of my head), what they conveniently overlook is that armed Americans use firearms to stop crime to the tune of over 2 million times per year. That’s taking a big bite out of crime.

    I recall some years back when Florida first loosened up its concealed-carry laws. Everyone predicted a return to the Wild West. Quite the opposite. Violent crime dropped 20 percent the first year. It turns out that criminals have a deep-seated instinct for self-preservation.

    I think loosening the gun ownership laws in Britain would have a good effect. Suddenly, all those assholes would be facing armed — and pissed — citizens.

  • veryretired

    The higher numbers for blacks in the US homicide stats is almost entirely due to the cocaine gang wars that are a form of low level conflict like a constant background noise.

    It has become so common in most urban areas that the murders aren’t even given any particular news significance, just a report that an unidentified body was found. After a day or two, the victim’s name and some other info is given, with the comment that it appeared to be gang or drug related.

    It would be hard to imagine a more damaging set of public policies than the War on Poverty, which marginalized young black men, and the War on Drugs, which established a huge, clandestine, illegal, and very dangerous, industry for them to work in. Racism and poor schools made sure there weren’t too many viable alternatives.

    If the leader of the KKK had been given the power to formulate policy regarding minorities in this country, he couldn’t have done any worse.

  • Sandy P.

    –States such as Vermont, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Montana, where gun ownership is at least twice what it is in Canada,have murder rates as low as one-half that in the provinces which are their immediate neighbours.–

    They don’t have a lot of people, either.

    Prof. Gordon, no disrespect intended, but if we’re using UN stats on Victims, the entire US population would be considered victims, well, except for white males. She writes tongue-in-cheek.

  • EU Delenda Est

    Sandy P – Well-armed Texas certainly has a lot of people – around 22 million, or 37% of the population of the UK.

  • David Crawford

    “They don’t have a lot of people, either.”

    Sandy P., and Washington, DC has fewer people than any one of those four states yet they average around 300 murders a year — easily more than all four of those states put together.

  • A people who cannot be trusted with self-defense cannot be trusted with self-governance. And British citizens are trusted less & less to rule themselves.
    When government gets all the guns, the people are infantilized. And the greater the demoralization, the more power the State claims.
    Americans claim our right, not just to defend ourselves from aggressive criminals, but to prevent repressive government.

  • Posie

    The British people have passively allowed most of their rights to removed from them one by one. True democracy has never been robust in Britain because the British are too deferential to the people who govern them. It should be the politicians, as in the US and Oz, who are deferential to their bosses, the voters, but in Britain, people talk of “our political masters”, which sends chills down my spine.

  • Mary

    Lisa asked: So how do you explain Japan’s extremely low crime rate? They’re probably the most vociferous gun control advocates around.

    Other cultural factors.

    Japanese-Americans, and Japanese citizens living in America, actually have a low murder rate than the Japanese in Japan.

    a citation

  • Lisa

    they conveniently overlook is that armed Americans use firearms to stop crime to the tune of over 2 million times per year. That’s taking a big bite out of crime.

    I don’t know. According to the Interpol stats, England and Wales had 1.63 murders per 100,000 while the US had 5.61 per 100,000. Britain had 5906 thefts (of all kinds) compared to the US’s 3804. (I also thought the statistics for “serious assault” were interesting and certainly does little to support the theory that concealed weapons protect people from being assaulted.)

    Now, obviously we can interpret statistics in all sorts of ways, but for me this comes down to what you think is more important, human life or human property.

  • Lisa

    tsk, sorry about that – the first para was a quote. The italics looked fine in the preview…

  • Elizabeth

    You can’t just look at population. You have to look at population density in a geographic area.

    1. ND and MT are wide open spaces, low population density. High gun ownership because of it; the “frontier” requires it because there aren’t ever-present police patrols–low proximity to law enforcement. They are not out to murder anyone, just protect their families, property, and cattle. (Yes, Virginia, there are still cattle rustlers; my bro-in-law has been hit several times in the last few years.)

    2. DC is tiny in geography and population, but high in population density. I spent a weekend in DC this summer and was about ready to choke someone.

    3. Those of us who don’t live in cities, especially in the low population density “flyover zone,” live in peace and harmony generally; in my area, if you aren’t involved in the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs, you’re safe.

    4. As a woman who lives on her own, and who travels on her own, at the moment when I begin to feel vulnerable, I will seek out firearms instruction, a good handgun, and a concealed carry permit. Why allow strong criminal males to dominate the ill, the elderly, and weaker women? (Speaking generally, not categorically.) “The Great Equalizer.” True feminists pack heat.

    Love the smiley face shooter graphic!

  • Amelia

    Thanks Elizabeth for your well articulated thoughts. I too believe that guns are an equalizer for women. I don’t understand why British women don’t demand the right to protect themselves. Where I live this is not a political issue, even my lefty girlfriends are armed.

  • rkb

    Add me to the list of women who can shoot, don’t regularly carry a gun but would use one to protect myself and my family.

    Yes, inner-city black gun deaths are direclty tied to the cocaine and to a lesser degree the heroin trade. By the way — during the time these statistics were collected, the black and to some degree hispanic drug-dealing networks were increasinly dominated by Jamaican immigrants — the level of violence went WAY up in the cocaine trade when the Jamaican gangs moved in. Those gangs were the first to build a NATIONAL network, so violence was exported to many major cities quickly.

    That also allowed the Feds to step in & break up many of the networks … one reason the gun-related homicide rate dropped a lot in the years after that study.

  • MayDay72

    …[T]his comes down to what you think is more important, human life or human property.” -Lisa

    Both are equally important. A state that does not properly respect the inherent right of an individual to defend his or her own life against the initiation of force by other individuals [or by the state itself] will not likely recognize the right of individuals to defend their own property [against unwarranted destruction, theft, use, etc.], and vice versa. A healthy respect by the state and individuals for ‘human life’ is inseparable and just as important as recognition of the right to defend ones own property. Try as you might, these two issues [human life and property rights] cannot be separated. They are both necessary ‘means’ for achieving one of the most noble of ‘ends’: liberty.

  • rkb

    This thread reminded me of a song I haven’t listened to in a while. By Tom Lenahan, whose parents moved from Ireland to south side Chicago … drummed for Cab Calway as a teen, ended up with his own Celtic-rock band. And yes, this was written before 9/11 …

    Day Ever Comes

    If the day ever comes when I should have to go to work,
    Well I won’t lose my temper & I won’t go berserk.
    Though I pray every day that such a thing should never be
    StillI don’t expect to get to live my whole life free.
    And a job’s an imprisonment until the job is done
    And then when you get your money you go out & have your fun
    Though I’d rather be a drummer or some other kind of bum
    Still I’ll toil with a smile if that day should come.

    If the day ever comes when I should have to take a wife
    Well I won’t look upon it as the ending of my life.
    Though I pray every day that I should never have to wed
    Still a man’s best plans are often ended in a bed.
    And a wife’s an encouragement to help you do your best
    And to keep you at your labours if you ever try and rest
    So I’ll hire myself a choir to sing We’ve Only Just Begun
    And I’ll face my bed courageous if that day should come.

    If the day ever comes when I should have to fire a gun
    Well it won’t be done for money & it won’t be done for fun
    Though I pray every day that it should never come to pass
    If you tamper with my liberty, well buddy that’s your ass.
    See, a gun’s just an instrument like any other tool
    And to be afraid to use it is to be a bloody fool.
    So before you come to visit me, remember where I’m from
    For I’ll help you get to Heaven if that day should come.

  • patrick


    My son and I were talking about the getto culture in the USA; he is into rap, etc.

    When we talked about 50 cent and his gun culture; I were to ASK JEEVES and asked, how people are murdered?.

    Lo and behold, I got unbelievable Web site from the USA Dept Of Justice and they give the breakdown of murders from the 1970’s.

    The most striking statistic was the Black youth 14 to 25 population engaged by preperators or victims in murders. It showed 1% of usa pop was the victim or preperator of murders.

    And yes we id the thing you did which was to exclude the abnormal and horrible rate for the Black population and came out with a murder rate approx the same as where we live CANADA.

    Thought you like to know.

  • The silence from the direction of Kodiak is deafening.

    Maybe his computer melted from the heat or it was stolen by the “maffia” or something.

  • Zathras

    I’d like to see some documentation of the idea that property and other crimes are prevented in large numbers by citizens carrying guns.

    I don’t dismiss the idea at all; I’m just wary of assuming what one would like to be true. For a bystander, let alone a prospective crime victim, to get out of his predicament through use of a firearm he or she must both have it handy and either be 1) proficient in its use or 2) very lucky. This combination of circumstances strikes me as unlikely to occur often.

    Now, it may be that crime is deterred in areas where large numbers of people are seen (by prospective criminals) to be armed. I don’t know how one would document that except anecdotally. Prevention — that is, stopping a crime in progress — is something else; I understand the emotional appeal of the idea but am less sure it happens very often in the real world.

  • Zathras,

    Here in Arizona, which is a “make my day” state – in other words, you can shoot to kill burglars and not be prosecuted, almost all burglaries are of unoccupied residences. In England, a very high percentage (I don’t have time to look it up – but say, around 40%) are of occupied residences.

    Even if the firearms don’t prevent the property crime (and I really don’t know), they are decreasing the likelihood of criminals and residents coming into contact, which has to decrease violence.

  • RC: no, I’m not disputing the data, the problem is the overstated conclusion. What else am I supposed to gauge from such a statement like that? It basically insinuated that racial seperation = lower crime rates. Now, if they were to explain it as the byproduct of racial friction that would at least be understandable, but instead it’s “here’s some stats on how much blacks commit crime, multicultural society causes this”. What reason do I have to not interpret that as racist?

    Weasel: try not to assume things, I said none of the sort. No talk of “the man” making blacks commit crimes, no PC accusation that we have some odd right to act like that, no sensationalism, I simply have a problem with the conclusion that is reached.

    I am not attempting to remove responsibility from anyone here, I’d just appreciate it if more thought were put into it than throwing out a prejudiced cliche.


    Speaking of assuming things….

    I wrote the original article. I SHOWED that the multicultural nature of our society (in particular, the high black population) was associated with over HALF OF ALL MURDERS in the USA.

    If you think it is racist for me to point out those statistics, I would suggest that you have no idea of the meaning of the word. It does not suggest that separation == lower crime rates.

    It might also interest you to know that I was not expecting these results. I knew that Blacks had a higher homicide rate, but was astonished when I stumbled across these stats.

    Thus it is up to you to prove your insulting and incorrect allegation about my writing.

    Go to it. Let’s see if you have the guts to retract your assertion that I was saying that racial separation == lower crime rates. Please show where where I wrote thatat, or even its implication. If you can’t, have you the guts to apologize? Also, could you please enlighten us as to what the “prejudiced cliche” is??? Precisely??

    As an aside to those who have adequate reading compensation skills, I had expected to be called racist by a larger number of bozos than have so far done so. b-psycho seems to be the only person so far to have misunderstood the facts, misread the article and construed them to mean a that I am putting out a “racist cliche,” which he has not defined.

  • What does it suggest then?

    That’s what you said, that most of the violent crime in the US was attributable to the multicultural nature of our society. I didn’t say the statistics were racist, but your conclusion as to them is grossly vague on any factor within race. Try doing the same comparison except using income level instead of race, you’ll find out a lot…


  • Honestly, you don’t see how such a statement could be interpreted as racist?

  • Cobden Bright

    Zathras wrote – “For a bystander, let alone a prospective crime victim, to get out of his predicament through use of a firearm he or she must both have it handy and either be 1) proficient in its use or 2) very lucky.”

    Not so. Other possibilities are 3) The crime may not have been attempted in the first place due to the deterrence effect of an armed citizenry 4) the simple fact of the citizen producing a gun may scare off the criminal (from memory, about 90% of gun displays ward off criminal attack without a shot being fired). And why don’t you think gun owners will be proficient in their use? It doesn’t take that much skill to shoot someone from 10 feet or closer (the range at which most “street” crime situations occur)

    If you are a criminal, it is very risky to try to attack someone who draws a gun. Even if you don’t get shot, you will probably have to kill or maim the victim – turning your easy robbery into a serious wounding or murder. The most sensible option is just to leave.

    Lisa wrote – “According to the Interpol stats, England and Wales had 1.63 murders per 100,000 while the US had 5.61 per 100,000. Britain had 5906 thefts (of all kinds) compared to the US’s 3804. [snip]

    Now, obviously we can interpret statistics in all sorts of ways, but for me this comes down to what you think is more important, human life or human property.”

    You are ignoring one key issue – how many of the murders involved *legally held* firearms? Only murders involving legally held firearms will be eliminated (at best – more likely they will just be replaced with illegal guns) by a gun ban. Given that banning guns does not reduce black market availability, a ban will do nothing to reduce the number of murders where illegally held guns are used. Prohibiting guns is about as successful in reducing gun crime as prohibiting drugs or alcohol is at reducing illegal consumption of those products.

    Also you make the classic error of comparing the US with the UK. Why not compare the US with Canada, where firearms ownership is more prevalent per capita, yet the murder rate is similar to that of the UK?

  • OK, Cobden, ask and ye shall receive:

    Murder (per 100,000)
    South Africa 114.84
    Brazil 22.98
    US 5.61
    Canada 4.1
    France 4.07
    Italy 3.75
    Israel 3.43
    Monaco 3.33
    Germany 3.23
    Switzerland 2.41
    Korea 2.18
    Finland 1.71
    UK 1.63
    Japan 1.05
    Saudi Arabia 0.71

    (2001 Interpol)

    % Households with guns
    US 41.0
    Switzerland 27.0
    Canada 26.0
    Finland 23.2
    France 22.6
    Italy 16.0
    Germany 8.9
    UK 4.0
    Japan 0.6
    Saudi Arabia no data available
    South Africa no data available
    Brazil no data available
    Monaco no data available
    S. Korea no data available
    Israel no data available

  • Tony H

    Full marks for research, Lisa. But what exactly is your point?
    (a) the USA has a dreadful murder rate of 5.61 per 100,000, and Gee, it must be all those guns – 41% of households, how terrible!
    (b) Finland has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world at over 23% of households, and a very low murder rate of 1.71 per 100,000 – practically the same as UK. So there can be absolutely no connection between homicide, and ordinary people owning guns…

  • Kodiak

    Lisa & Chris Tucker,

    Figures = occurrence per Mio inhab, known to the police (2001, Interpol).

    Murders: 57 – Rapes: 323 – Serious assaults: 3.240 – Thefts (including aggravated): 38.698 – Aggravated thefts only: 9.045 – Robbery & violent thefts: 1.510 – Breaking & entering: 7.535.

    Murders: 41 (72% of USA) – Rapes: no data – Serious assaults: 1.489 (46% of USA) – Thefts (including aggravated): 27.655 (71% of USA) – Aggravated thefts only: no data – Robbery & violent thefts: 884 (59% of USA) – Breaking & entering: 9.113 (121% of USA).

    Murders: 230 (USA x 4) – Rapes: 85 (26% of USA) – Serious assaults: 6 (0,2% of USA) – Thefts (including aggravated): no data – Aggravated thefts only: 11 (0,1% of USA) – Robbery & violent thefts: no data – Breaking & entering: no data.

    Murders: 38 (67% of USA) – Rapes: 160 (50% of USA) – Serious assaults: 1.943 (60% of USA) – Thefts (including aggravated): 42.039 (109% of USA) – Aggravated thefts only: 9.435 (104% of USA) – Robbery & violent thefts: 2.238 (148% of USA) – Breaking & entering: 6.938 (92% of USA).

    Murders: 32 (56% of USA) – Rapes: 95 (29% of USA) – Serious assaults: 1.450 (45% of USA) – Thefts (including aggravated): 36.492 (94% of USA) – Aggravated thefts only: 13.078 (145% of USA) – Robbery & violent thefts: 688 (46% of USA) – Breaking & entering: 12.389 (164% of USA).

    Murders: 37 (65% of USA) – Rapes: no data – Serious assaults: 532 (16% of USA) – Thefts (including aggravated): 22.589 (58% of USA) – Aggravated thefts only: no data – Robbery & violent thefts: 660 (44% of USA) – Breaking & entering: no data.

    Murders: 1.174 (USA x 20) – Rapes: 1.238 (USA x 4) – Serious assaults: 6.109 (USA x 1,9) – Thefts (including aggravated): 36.444 (94% of USA) – Aggravated thefts only: 13.825 (USA x 1,5) – Robbery & violent thefts: 4.792 (USA x 3) – Breaking & entering: 9.033 (USA x 1,2).

    Murders: 13 (23% of USA) – Rapes: 35 (11% of USA) – Serious assaults: 1.465 (45% of USA) – Thefts (including aggravated): 2.400 (6% of USA) – Aggravated thefts only: 686 (7,5% of USA) – Robbery & violent thefts: 102 (7% of USA) – Breaking & entering: 480 (6% of USA).

    Murders: 6 (10% of USA) – Rapes: no data – Serious assaults: 83 (2,5% of USA) – Thefts (including aggravated): 732 (2% of USA) – Aggravated thefts only: 109 (1% of USA) – Robbery & violent thefts: 83 (5,5% of USA) – Breaking & entering: 27 (0,4% of USA).

    Murders: 10 (18% of USA) – Rapes: 6 (17% of USA) – Serious assaults: 55 (2% of USA) – Thefts (including aggravated): 98 (0,3% of USA) – Aggravated thefts only: 75 (0,8% of USA) – Robbery & violent thefts: 53 (3,5% of USA) – Breaking & entering: 22 (0,3% of USA).

    Murders: 137 (USA x 2,4) – Rapes: 97 (30% of USA) – Serious assaults: 528 (16% of USA) – Thefts (including aggravated): 4.926 (13% of USA) – Aggravated thefts only: 4.022 (44% of USA) – Robbery & violent thefts: 821 (54% of USA) – Breaking & entering: no data.

    Murders: 11 (19% of USA) – Rapes: 18 (6% of USA) – Serious assaults: 267 (8% of USA) – Thefts (including aggravated): 18.436 (48% of USA) – Aggravated thefts only: 2.436 (27% of USA) – Robbery & violent thefts: 50 (3% of USA) – Breaking & entering: 2.386 (32% of USA).

    Basically the US is more successful at ensuring property safety than delivering protection for human beings (what a surprise!), whereas European homes tend to be considered like hotels anyone may enter & leave (with the jewels of course) at their best convenience.

    True it is that the US is beaten by Brazil & South Africa regarding violent death performance… But its closest neighbour, Canada, ressembles more European societies such as France, Germany & Italy where homicide & rape rates are well lower than in the US.

    Some figures (Indonesia, not to mention Algeria) are seemingly farcical.

    The Europe vs US match is far from being over: Interpol sources may not been reliable (data heterogeneity + cases known to the police only are taken into account).

    To be continued.

  • Tony

    I have to take issue with part of your final analysis, in which you say that more gun control = more crime, because of the high crime areas coinciding with the high gun-control areas.

    There’s a flaw in this logic that gets commited a lot all over the place: the confusion between correlation and causation. There is clearly a correlation between high gun-control areas and high crime areas, but that doesn’t indicate that the one causes the other. There’s a correlation between increased use of air-conditioners and increased sexual assault, but that doesn’t mean that A/C causes rape… just that both A/C usage and rape cases tend to increase during the summer months. There are a lot of things that could cause higher crime in metro areas; this data doesn’t create a causal link between reduced gun ownership and increased crime.

  • F

    Where did you find that gun wonership data? I found the murder rate, but not the gun ownership rate.

    So I did the obvious nerd thing to do. I plugged your numbers into Excel, made a graph and fit a line to the results. No more or this taking two isolated data points to make whatever point you want to make.

    Before any of you jump down my throats, this is not anywhere close to a rigorous statistical analysis. There are 9 data points and I did nothing else to analyze this data. But here are the results:

    There is a positive correlation between gun ownership and murder rates for the 9 countries that had both in Lisa’s list. R2 (correlation factor) = 0.54 (1 is perfect, 0 is no correlation). While this is pretty sucky for science, it’s pretty huge for sociology/psychology. Of course, some data points don’t lay exactly on the correlation line. For example, Finland and Switzerland have abnormally low death rates, and Italy and Germany are abnormally high.

    The interesting thing is that there *is* a correlation. Of course, as someone else already pointed out, correlation is not causation. But it is interesting.


  • F

    After more websurfing, I can up with this:


    Check it out. It breaks down the murder rate into gun and non-gun murder rates. They are right to conclude that it is probably impossible to come to a reasonable conclusion using this data.

    I did think it was interesting that the data don’t seem to have as good a correlation between gun ownership and gun homocide rate. The US’ non-gun homocide rate is high, yet comparable to other European countries. But the US’ gun homocide rate is far larger than most. Again, this has a minimal correlation with gun ownership.

    Bottom line is that these statistics are essentially meaningless, and everyone who tries to draw a conclusion from them is trying to prove a particular point.


  • R.C. Dean

    “Bottom line is that these statistics are essentially meaningless, and everyone who tries to draw a conclusion from them is trying to prove a particular point.”

    I would concur with that, and I think the interesting and useful data to look at for public policy purposes is – what happens to crime rates after significant changes in gun control laws.

  • (shameless self-promotion.)

    My take on this is finally up: RACIST!