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From English danger to Texan safety

Further to Antoine’s posting yesterday, about why that old couple got killed, Alice Bachini, now that she lives in Texas, is able to make a comparison:

English person was asking me how come Austin is so crime-free and safe for kids compared to the UK?

“Well, over there,” said I, “if someone breaks into your house in the night and tries to burgle you, you can shoot him. You can even kill him, and you won’t get arrested. If someone mugs you, you can shoot them too. So that must put quite a few criminals off.”

Mentioned the Tony Martin case, and the fact that criminals are going to have guns even if they’re banned.

It has actually taken being extendedly in Texas for the last bit of Brit-bred gun-scepticism to fade from my lower cerebellum. It does feel safe in Austin. But people used to living in danger can forget what feeling safe is like. They think that danger is normal. That’s how evil ideas take control.

The trouble is that not very many people actually decide to stop living in one place and to start living in another, so these comparisons have not yet become part of the common stock of experience of mankind. And something like “safety” is not something you can see, the way you can see (or see on television) abundant goods in supermarkets or poets being politically contrary and not being arrested immediately.

The only other kind of comparison of this kind is when there is a sudden change of political regime, like the sudden change that occurred in Iraq just recently, or in Germany in 1945. One day, things are done one way, and then the next day, everything is different, even though it is the same place.

The circumstance that finally convinced me of the foolishness of English style gun control was a change of this sort that occurred in Jamaica, where, in the early nineteen seventies, they went, gunwise, from Texas to England, overnight. And so did their crime numbers.

I like to believe that if we all plug away on this issue we might eventually get somewhere.

It is particularly helpful when not obviously belligerent and sporty types like Alice and me become uncompromising supporters of the right to armed self defence. I hate guns, myself. If I lived in Texas, I would be a blatant gun free rider, being safe because others were armed. But that I should be allowed to arm myself, and that it benefits me hugely that other law-abiders are allowed to arm themselves, I have no doubt.

And it did not take a switch of continent, or even regular experience of two different countries such as Antoine possesses (of England and of France between which countries the gun rules differ substantially – see the comments below), to convince me of this. And if I can be convinced, so can others.

We can start with those who, because they are so attracted by pro-freedom ideas about other matters, want to believe that similar ideas apply to guns. And then we can work our way outwards from there, starting with the people who want to use guns for sport, and do not see any harm in that. The point is, for them to see the good in it and to start talking about that too.

47 comments to From English danger to Texan safety

  • Brian,

    With respect, I think you’re going about it the wrong way.

    It’s been my sad experience that the pure “sport shooters” are the ones you may count on least, when it comes to talking about guns for self-defense.

    As long as their precious shotguns and smallbore target rifles aren’t targeted for confiscation or banning, they’re quite content to see handguns, military rifles and such go the way of the dodo.

    Ignore them.

    Go from the ground up. Set up an organization called “Trust The People”. Enlist, for example, the children of the elderly couple, and have them become your spokesmen. Every time there’s another murder of unarmed people, make sure that someone from your organization writes a letter to ALL the newspapers. Try to get onto TV (although with Aunty Beeb, good luck).

    The important thing is: never quit. Set up pickets outside a crime scene (don’t obstruct the police, that’s silly), and carry placards which read things like: “Another Senseless Murder of the Unarmed”, “When Will It End?” and “Police Don’t STOP Crime, They Get There Too Late”.

    Make enough noise, and sooner or later public opinion will swing your way.

    Concealed-carry of handguns was once thought to be impossible in Texas: we even had an anti-gun Democrat governor. Then there was a massacre inside a restaurant — and one of the people inside watched helplessly as her parents were killed in front of her.

    The interesting thing was that she HAD a gun — but she’d left it out in the car so as not to break the “no-carry” law.

    Her name was Suzanne Gratia-Hupp, and she ran for the state assembly, and won, on the “No More Massacres” platform. She’s still there.

    The Democrat governor was defeated at the next election, by the way, because she vetoed the concealed-carry law — and the next governor signed it into law before he did anything else.

    The new governor, by the way, was George W. Bush.

    It’s not hopeless. But this is no time for that traditional British reserve and reticence.

    Your citizens are being slaughtered like cattle because of stupid anti-gun laws. This is not the time to be gentlemanly about it.

    Please feel free to email me for any assistance I can provide (eg. violent crime stats and the like).

  • Sorry, I hit the “Post” button too quickly. Here’s a quote from the redoubtable Suzy Hupp:

    “How a politician stands on the Second Amendment tells you how he or she views you as an individual… as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded over, controlled, supervised, and taken care of.”

    Substitute “private gun ownership” for “the Second Amendment”, and I believe you have the makings of an organizational manifesto.

    And ignore the “Wild West” and “vigilante” nonsense which will be thrown at you — the stats are that it simply does not happen that way.

  • Yank Girl

    A .44 magnum beats a fullhouse anyday.

  • Guy Herbert

    Is it true to say that British people (in general, outside a few rough areas, of the sort that are thinner scattered in Texas) are used to living in danger? That they don’t feel safe? Or that they should feel endangered, whether they do or not?

    It is painfully clear that New Labour’s current strategy is to inflame fear of crime and fear of the unknown generally, to give excuses for the expansion of state power (including tighter contros on the few remaining guns), but is it working so well? How depressing.

    I’ve lived in central London for 15 years, and in all that time I’ve been more frightened of the police (somewhat, though not much) than I am of criminals (scarcely at all).

  • Lou Gots

    Guns really are an American way of life. Perhaps the current company would like to reflect on the idea that the nation had its beginning in a fight over–gun control. The year was 1775, and a gang of jack-booted thugs in red coats set out from Boston to confiscate a militia arsenal at Concord.

    “You know the rest, in the books you have read,
    How the British regulars fired and fled.”

  • Brian, you are absolutely right about the changes in society not being noticed, unless they are abrupt and the fact that not enough people experience the difference to realise that and change to the better option.

    Also, Brian is talking about spreading the right attitude in the UK where there is a strange peacenik hostility to weapons and gun, well, certainly among the chattering and political classes, if not the countryside. It does make sense to start from those who use them for sport since these people like guns and do not necessarily look deranged… which is what the ‘civilised’ people in the UK will assume, if you do not join their wild denunciations of guns as pure evil.

  • Della

    English person was asking me how come Austin is so crime-free and safe for kids compared to the UK?

    In 2002 Austin had 3.65 murders per 100,000 people. This is less than the Texas average of 5.9 murders per 100,000 peple, and the US average of 5.6 per 100,000 people. Dallas (Texas) had 15.79 murders per 100,000 people, Houston (Texas): 12.55 murders per 100,000 people, San Antonio (Texas): 8.36 murders per 100,000, Waco (Texas): 11.79 murders per 100,000.

    By way of comparison London (UK) had 2.1 murders per 100,000. And England and Wales had 1.67 murders per 100,000 people.

    Whilst I think that the difference in murder rates is due to cultural factors and not the presence of guns, I think in this case facts get in the way of your argument. If you want to make your point you should use different examples.

  • Della: Lies, damned lies and statistics… I think Alice is using the best example – one she knows of…

  • Della


    I have been to Austin and I liked the place, it did feel a lot safer than other places I went to on that trip and the place had a nice vibe, however the feeling of safety is very relative and I did not feel as safe as at home. Austin also made me very hayfevery, and I would never live there for that reason.

  • Kim

    Gun hobbyists in Britain ARE targetted, and they know it. They HAVE lost a lot of their gun rights, are threatened with losing MORE of their guns rights, and they ARE being persuaded to think about the anti-crime as well as sport benefits of gun ownership.

  • Harry Powell

    Della, I think your comparison of murder rates is somewhat beside the point here. Brian’s article was about the perception of safety, and as your figures prove murder is a statistically rare enough event on both sides of the Atlantic to make little difference to the feeling of general unease we’re discussing. It might be possible to quantify the notion of ‘relative safety’ if we can compare the differential rates of murder, robbery, rape, burglary, violent assault, etc as an aggregate. That’s something the study you quote singularly fails to do, indeed it’s methodology is unclear – is the UK robbery rate it cites only those robberies that involve guns? That would certainly agree with the hypothesis it was trying to prove.

    I obviously should have lived in Guy Herbert’s part of London during the 7 years I spent there. Apart from the general air of inhibition one sees (I lost count of the number of times I has to clean vomit and piss from my doorstep) I witnessed several assaults, at least one of them random and unprovoked, and felt utterly helpless to do anything about it.

  • Della,

    Here’s the problem with stats such as you cite.

    The rates you quote are actually “homicide” rates — ie. all people killed by others — and included in that are the many instances of self-defense, where a goblin gets whacked by a home owner in a Righteous Shooting. There are quite a few of those, in Texas.

    If you take out the homicides which happen in drug-infested neighborhoods of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and, yes, Austin, the rate drops precipitously.

    But homicides are not the only measure of violence in a society.

    I don’t remember the exact statistics, but as I recall them, you’re eight times as likely to get mugged in London as in New York City — and you’re six times more likely to be mugged in New York than in Dallas.

    I won’t even look at burglary rates: London’s burglary rates are astronomical compared to, well, anywhere in the United States — and more to the point, in London the burglaries are more likely to take place when someone is at home.

    That, for damn sure, is not the case in Texas, where burglars know that there is a strong likelihood of an armed homeowner on the other side of the window.

    Car theft is another interesting issue. In the United States, the rate of car theft is nothing like Britain, where it seems to be quite common. And, unlike in the U.S., car theft seems to be pretty much universal, even outside the cities.

    (Incidentally, carjacking has almost disappeared in the United States, outside the cities which have — ta-daa! — restrictive gun ownership laws. In states which have concealed carry, it’s a non-issue.)

    Muggings, burglaries, car theft — these all create the feeling of insecurity which pervades Britain nowadays. It’s not just murder.

    I know where Alice lives in Texas — we visited her just before she went back to England — and it’s an area rather like Fulham, in terms of its distance from downtown.

    From a security perspective, Alice’s family and possessions are a hundred times safer in Austin than they would be in Fulham.

    And that’s before you factor in the effect of having a gun in the house, for good measure.

    Incidentally, where I live in Plano (about twenty miles north of Dallas, pop. about 250,000), our murder rate is about zero: we last had a murder in Plano about two years ago. Our burglary rate is almost as low: something like 3 per 1,000 households per annum.

    It’s also one of the most conservative districts in the whole United States. And yes, we’re pretty well-armed, even by Texas standards. About 85% of all households own at least one gun, according to a study made about five years ago.

    I suspect that where Alice lives, it’s the same or higher.

    So go ahead and call us “cowboys” and “vigilantes” or whatever. We’re used to it.

    But I don’t need a wall or fence around my property — my windows don’t even have burglar bars — and we only activate our security system when we go on vacation. On hot days, I can nip into the corner convenience store for milk and leave my car’s engine running (the a/c keeps the car cool, you see).

    I doubt very much whether I would have that much freedom in London.

  • One last thing. Here’s an essay Brits would do well to read.

    It’s called:

    “Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun: What Bearing Weapons Teaches About the Good Life”

  • The issue of guns has never been a public safety one,it has been dressed up as such and encrusted with a moral stance,but essentially it is the fear of an armed citizenry by the political elite.
    As gun ownership declined the number of armed police increased,these seemed to have been purely for their own defence.
    It is ironical that a bloody dictator,Saddam Hussein allowed his people arms,but one of those who removed him from power,Tony Blair has no such trust in his own people,why?

  • Della

    Hi Kim,

    Since you feel I have been picking on homicide in my comparisons here is the data for Burglary, Theft of Vehicles, Rapes and Robbery which I extracted from the pages I linked to previously, I don’t have the rates of Mugging or Car Jacking as I haven’t been able to find statistics for the various places in Texas, and I haven’t included figures for London as I can’t find the rates for the crimes listed.

    (all figures per 100,000 people)

    As you can see from the table you are wrong in thinking that the rate of Burglary is lower in Texas than in England and Wales (the figures for the whole of the UK won’t be significantly different), the rate is 13.71% higher in Texas, 132% higher in Waco and 26.53% higher in Austin. The burglary figures for England and Wales include burglary where there is no loss, which may or may not be included in the US Burglary figures.

    The rate of theft of vehicles is currently lower in Texas than in England and Wales, however it is higher in some Texas cities. The lower rate of vehicle crime could be attributed to a combination of lower second hand car prices in Texas or earlier introduction of anti vehicle theft technology in Texas as compared to England and Wales. If you look at the Texas crime statistics page you can see the rate of vehicle theft has halved in the last 10 years in Texas, this reduction is probably almost entirely due to improved technology.

    The rate of Rape in Texas is 101.5% higher than the rate of rape in England and Wales, and in Dallas it is 182.42% higher, this is a key weakness in a comparison of a England and Wales and Texas from the point of view of guns since rape should be one of the crimes that guns used in self defence do the most to prevent.

    The rate of Robbery in the whole of Texas is 20% lower in Texas than in England and Wales, however in Houston and Dallas it is 200% higher than England and Wales. It’s also difficult to say if the definition of robbery is the same in England and Wales and Texas since the term is a bit vauge.

    You said that Plano had no murders in 2003, however a review of newspapers in Plano for late November and early December 2003 lists a 3 person murder suicide on December 9th, where a schoolteacher mother killed her husband and daughter, a mother in court accused of murdering two of her children, and a woman convicted of killing a man in Feburary, it is quite possible that there were male killers at some time during the year too. In 2002 there were 6 murders in Plano giving a murder rate of 2.59 per 100,000 people, which is 23% more than London.

  • Whip

    Statistics and studies detailing the effects of gun control on crime rates can be batted back and forth all day. For the most part they are unrealistic since they tend to compare various societies without taking into account differences in social variables like population density and the economy.

    Beyond being unrealistic, I also tend to find such studies irrelevant. The simple fact is gun control is wrong, regardless of its effect on crime. Self-defense is a fundamental right, and the modern firearm is the best tool for exercising this right.

  • Susan

    Della’s figures on “The United States of Murder” are dated 1998 — six years old.

    I found something more current:

    Comparative Murder Rates of US Big Cities

  • Susan

    Della’s figures on “The United States of Murder” are dated 1998 — six years old.

    I found something more current:

    Comparative Murder Rates of US Big Cities

  • Susan

    Sorry for the double post. The posts go really slow and it’s hard to tell if they’ve registered or not.

  • Susan

    Of particular interest to me is the fact that the New York murder rate cited in Della’s 6-year-old figures has declined by more than 50 percent, from more than 16 per 100,000 people to 7 per 100,000 people in 2003.

    More than enough evidence for me that zero tolerance policing works.

  • Della

    I didn’t realise that the article on London was for 1998,
    according to this the murder rate in London was 2.82 per 100,000 in 2001, assuming the population of London in 2001 was 7,152,846. The reason I chose 2001 is that it is almost impossible to get statistics for years later than that. There is also the issue that a years reported homicides will change over time as some of them will be reclassified as suicide etc.

  • Y’all need to learn fiscal policy from Texas, too. If it’s any indicator, in the Dallas area a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 2200-square-foot (a little over 200 square meters) house goes for $200,000 (about £109,000), and gasoline is roughly $1.75/gallon (£3.60/liter).

    Another blogger can fill you in on area firearms prices.

  • llamas

    Kim du Toit wrote:

    ‘Our burglary rate is almost as low: something like 3 per 1,000 households per annum.”

    Er – not quite.

    The last year for which I could find burglary figures for Plano was 2002, when there were 1326 burglaries reported in the city. At that time, the city population was about 225,000 souls.

    So that’s about 589 burglaries per 100,000 people, which is the usual way that crimes statistics are reported. Lower than Metro Dallas, or Fort Worth, to be sure.

    The average houshold in Plano, TX is 2.73 persons so, that’s 589 burlaries in 36,630 households, per annum, or 16 burglaries per 1000 households per annum, or more than 5 times more than Kim du Toit claims.

    Della has already spanked Kim du Toit’s claim that Plano has no murders.

    Don’t get me wrong, anyone who knows me a) knows I am 100% in favour of the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of the person and b) knows that I am not a lawyer.

    But I don’t think that cause a) is helped a bit when statistics are quoted which are at such great variance with the truth, and which are so easily debunked. Making up numbers, and making up stories – that’s what the anti-gun forces do. Claims that crime simply dries up when citizens are armed are just as untrue and misleading as claims that crime increases when citizens are armed. But we need to tell the truth on our side, all the time. When the truth about gun ownership is salted with untruths, it is altogether too easy for our opponents to point out the untruths and dismiss the rest.

    In the interests of full disclosure – llamas is banned at Kim du Toit’s weblog (www.kimdutoit.com) for telling truths that Kim du Toit does not like to hear. Since I don’t think he can ban me from here, it will be interesting to see what he has to say when he has no way to silence his critic.



  • A_t

    I agree.. the point should be made primarily on the basis of fundamental rights & wrongs, not some utilitarian argument.

    On the utilitarian front though, I’d rather lose all my posessions than be murdered. Similarly, if friends or relations get burgled, it’s bad but they’re insured, & five years later things will be pretty much as they were. The same can never be said of murder. Thus I would never care to trade off a lower burglary rate against a higher murder rate. The ratio of ‘which is preferable’ between the two crimes (indeed murder vs. just about any other crime) is near-inifinite; unpleasant or horrible as anything else may be, at least the person’s still around. Property is replacable, & if you’re at all sensible you’ll have insurance, which can probably replace most of your valuables. Sadly, life insurance doesn’t quite live up to it’s name yet.

    Evidence seems to suggest that firearm ownership may lower the burglary etc. rate, but it also suggests the homicide rate goes up. I would lose my car 200 times over rather than see anyone I care about killed. If you can think of any utilitarian argument to trump that, go ahead, let me see it.

  • Jeremy

    The high crime stats for Dallas are partly a result of the utter joke of a police chief we had who was recently fired. He was a pure political hire, there were much more qualified people for the job.

  • llamas

    A_t wrote:

    ‘Evidence seems to suggest that firearm ownership may lower the burglary etc. rate, but it also suggests the homicide rate goes up.’

    Would you please provide a link to this evidence, because it contradicts what I have seen. Even the most critical analyses of ‘more guns, less crime’ researchers like John Lott have only been able to come to the conclusion that greater gun ownership does not increase OR decrease homicide rates. And, while correlation is NOT causation, we may see the coincidence of firearms bans and increasing homicide rates in several places now – Great Britain, Australia, Canada, ASF.

    If you know of different evidence, please bring it forward.



  • Mea culpa. Just shows what happens when you quote from memory.

    Plano’s low murder rate was quoted to me by a real-estate agent (double mea culpa), who no doubt had ulterior motives.

    Never mind.

    In the face of those overwhelming statistics, I’ll just cower in fear here in my non-fenced, non-burglar-barred home, and look with envy over The Pond at my fellow-Anglos as they live in complete, State-guaranteed safety behind their barbed-wire-topped walls and security systems, from which they can sally forth at day or night in complete safety from the plethora of muggers, the kind with which we are plagued here in Texas.

    Good grief. One of these days I might have to lock the car in the driveway at night, or the back door of the house during the day.

    And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to hit the shooting range. I think I’ll take the AK-47 and the M1 Carbine today.

  • A_t

    Llamas, apologies.. that was just the impression i had received from (probably partisan) posters round here. I’m quite happy for homicide, burglary etc. to have little-or-no relation to gun ownership, though I’d suspect homicide would generally be higher in places where private gun ownership is common, particularly ownership of guns sold/designed for shooting human beings, just because it makes the crime easier both physically & psychologically. It’s pleasing to me though, if it doesn’t act as a deterrent to burglary, rape etc., as that was one of the strongest popular arguments i could see in favour of widespread ownership of firearms, which I am not personally keen on. Stats however, I have none.

    & all this comparing the UK to the US business, most of you seem to be comparing sleepy, peaceful suburbs in the very-spread-out US, where it’s possible to live miles away from any poor people if you wish, with London town where even in the richest areas there’ll be poverty just round the corner.

    It’s perfectly possible to live in nearly crime-free havens like Kim describes in the UK; go to the Scottish highlands & you can certainly leave your car running outside the shop all day if you fancy it. London’s a lot more stressful admittedly, but I’m happy knowing there’s only a very slim chance that if someone attacks me or breaks into my house, that they’ll have a firearm. I don’t think adding a bunch of handguns to the equation would improve anything.

  • A_t

    Another point worth making: there’s a big difference between crime & fear of crime. Most of what’s been bandied around here is fear of crime rubbish (“i feel safer”).

    This is the touchy-feely crap which has come to dominate much policing here in the UK; police feel it’s worthwhile taking part in exercises which don’t actually catch any serious criminals (trawling my local tube station with sniffer dogs, to try & catch weed smokers for instance), to “reassure the public” (their stated reason for a day-long operation involving several officers & a dog, which resulted in one individual being ‘warned’). Or perhaps the announcement that graffiti on the railways “ruins passengers’ quality of life”… really? wow. I always thought it was just some kids fooling around, who might in the long run push up the price of rail travel by a fraction of a penny.

    Or maybe prime idiot Macintyre who went to central Brixton, which *does* often feel threatening & where a large number of muggings seem to take place if you read the local papers, & tried for 2 days to get mugged, ostentatiously displaying a fancy mobile & laptop.

    There’s perception & then reality. I would take statistics over ‘feeling’ most of the time*, & the police are there to make sure you’re safe; it’s up to you not to get hysterical & feel unsafe when realistically the risks to yourself are minute. Sadly, both the police & sizeable chunks of the public seem to have forgotten this.

    (* having said that, I’d always take stats with a pinch of salt too; looking carefully at who compiled them & how)

  • Susan

    I think that crime rates actually have more to do with social cohesiveness and population homogenity than with gun ownership. Crime rates have been historically compartively low in Europe because of the homogenity of the population; higher in the US because of the greater social mobility and diversity in population.

    Now that Europe is becoming more “diverse”, with immigrants moving in who have no ancient ties to their communities and a lower rate of commitment to social cohesiveness with the “hosts”, Europe’s crime rates are moving up as well.

    Please note: This is not a racial statement, as I note that Japan has historically had a very low crime rate, as has 99 percent Lutheran Protestant White Scandinavia — but Scandinavia’s crime rates are now going up too, with an influx of Russian and Muslim immigrants.

  • Paul H.

    I live in Bullard, Texas (yep, even us Texicans read about England in the country.) We do have some strange people arrested here like just about any other place, and I DO have a CHL (as in Concealed Handgun License) and I DO carry very very often.

    In all the years I’ve carried, I’ve never had to even touch my weapon. I’ve never seen any ‘cowboy’ attitude either. I know quite a few other CHL carriers as we compete in what is called ‘IDPA’, International Defensive Pistol Association’ competition, and they are the most friendly and peacefull lot as you could find (but woe be those who come to harm them or others, they DO shoot well, and they DO help and co-operate with the police.)

    Speaking of the police, I’ve been stopped twice for speeding, neither policeman asked for my weapon (it was on me), and they were most friendly and polite. Here in Texas, have a CHL IS the mark of a good citizen (can you imagine that in Enland!)

    The only time I feel un-easy is when I have to travel up north to such as New York, and thus leave my gun home. I then feel trapped in the motel rooms and I don’t go out at night as I would even in Dallas or Houston.


  • llamas

    How those inconvenient facts do get in the way of a good argument, to be sure.

    As is so often the case, these discussions tend to descend into a battle of all-or-nothing absolutists, as we may see in this no-doubt-meant-to-be-ironic passage from Kim du Toit :

    ‘In the face of those overwhelming statistics, I’ll just cower in fear here in my non-fenced, non-burglar-barred home, and look with envy over The Pond at my fellow-Anglos as they live in complete, State-guaranteed safety behind their barbed-wire-topped walls and security systems, from which they can sally forth at day or night in complete safety from the plethora of muggers, the kind with which we are plagued here in Texas.

    Good grief. One of these days I might have to lock the car in the driveway at night, or the back door of the house during the day.’

    – as though any one, single reason can be absolutely pointed to as being the sole reason why things are so good (relatively speaking) in Texas, and so bad (relatively speaking) in the UK.

    Of course, it’s seldom that simple, and the simplistic absolutists, on both sides, will be forever searching for that one clinching piece of data to support their positions. Which they will not find.

    In truth, these issues fall along an inter-related continuum of multiple factors. When I lived in England, 20 and 30 years ago, firearms restrictions were stringent, to be sure, but guns were fairly plentiful and not hard to get. The big difference then, I think was that the police still went about their business as though they meant it. Gun crime was low because the penalties were swift and severe and your chances of being caught were very high. Even the Great Train Robbers (1963) who made off with an unimaginable sum of cash by robbing a mail train, did not go ‘tooled up’, although they were all pretty bad boys and could easily have done so.

    The tragedy for the Brits was that they allowed their guns to be taken away AND they allowed the police to fall into a mode of operations where property crime especially just assumed a lower priority. If the police in the UK operated today as they did 30 years ago, I don’t think we would have seen nearly the rise in property crimes and crimes of violence that we have seen there of late. I really don’t think that banning firearms in-and-of itself had that much to do with it. As A_t says, a purely utilitarian argument tends to fall flat on its face because it’s well-nigh impossible to relaistically blame the outcomes on any one thing, or to suggest that any one thing would fix the mess now created. The criminals who have discovered the effectiveness of firearms and the unwillingness of the police to chase them down, are hardly likely to give them up if the population were to be suddenly re-armed to its previous level, or even beyond. Rearming the populace can really only work to reduce crime if it’s accompanied by a sea-change in policing and public policy. Good luck waiting for that to arrive.



  • Della,

    Let me jump in a little on these comparison stats between the U.S. and anywhere else. I’ve attempted to make these types of comparisons before, pulling the same type of numbers you’ve included.

    There is a huge problem in those statistics. Each country may define, for itself, how it aggregates those numbers. No one normalizes the data–it’s just pushed into the dataset without any validation at all. (You used to be able to download the form to submit the numbers, too.)

    One of the things you will find, if you look at the Home Office website, is the way that Britain aggregates its numbers is actually quite brilliant (if, of course, your motivation is to keep Britain’s numbers low).

    For example, if an apartment building is burglarized in Britain and three apartments in the same building are hit, that will appear as only ONE crime. The same is true for street crime. If a couple is mugged that will be recorded as one crime. That is not the way the American stats are tabulated.

    In addition, if the police (in Britain) do not believe it is possible to find the culprit (say of a cell phone theft or other mugging type crime), if the victim is unable describe their assailant, or there were no witnesses, the police will not file the paper work. That is also omitted from the results.

    The Home Office Website does an annual survey, I would assume to counter some of the above criticism, where it asks people if they have been victims of crime. This survey catches all the crimes which are not reported as well as adjusting for the collapsing of crimes (as indicated above).

    When you look at the survey results, you’ll get a totally different picture than the one presented from the database where you found the numbers you posted.

    For example, here are the figures you cited (per 100,000):
    England and Wales:
    Burglary: 797
    Theft of Vehicles: 637
    Rapes: 18.7
    Robbery: 182

    When you compare those numbers to the BCS (British Crime Survey (Link)), you’ll find a huge disparity in the above numbers.

    The BCS shows data per 10,000, so I’ve done the adjustment for a proper comparison (looking only at England and Wales since you did):
    Vandalism: 11,450
    Burglary: 4,390
    Vehicle Thefts: 13,990
    All Household Offences: 34,280

    Unfortunately, those numbers paint a very different picture. Somewhere between the numbers you posted and these numbers is the actual picture. Those numbers (even if you cut them in half) are very different from the U.S. numbers.

  • Daveon

    In addition, if the police (in Britain) do not believe it is possible to find the culprit (say of a cell phone theft or other mugging type crime), if the victim is unable describe their assailant, or there were no witnesses, the police will not file the paper work. That is also omitted from the results.

    Would you care to provide some citations to back this up?

    The problem I have believing it is that that, for example, to claim your cellphone on insurance requires an individual crime number and report number. Otherwise you’re out of pocket.

    I can’t see how appartments are any different if the people living in them want to claim on their household insurance for the theft. Each claim has to have a unique police reference and incident report – otherwise you’re claim goes in the bin (or rather that’s how it was last time I claimed).

  • llamas

    Just to finish up:

    Kim du Toit wrote:

    ‘you’re six times more likely to be mugged in New York than in Dallas.”

    No, you’re not.

    If we look at the FBI Uniform Crime Reports (2001 data), the rates for crimes which would encompass ‘mugging’ – robbery and/or aggravated assault – we find the rates per 100,000 citizens are as follows:

    Robbery New York 420.3 Dallas 629.3
    Aggravated assault New York 527.7 Dallas 726.3

    So, in fact, you are about 25% MORE likely to be a mugging victim in Dallas than you are in New York City – and not 6 times less likely.

    Then we have this:

    ‘That, for damn sure, is not the case in Texas, where burglars know that there is a strong likelihood of an armed homeowner on the other side of the window.’

    As compared to, say, New York City, where gun owenership is heavily restricted and therefore quite rare. Well, let’s look at the numbers again, this time for burglary:

    New York 479.1 Dallas 1813.2

    You are almost 4 times more likely to suffer a burglary in Dallas than you are in New York City – armed homeowners notwithstanding.

    I guess, in summary, that the best rule of thumb which we can draw from all this is as follows:

    ‘If Kim du Toit cites a crime statistic, the probability that what he says is wrong approaches 100%’.

    Kim, you’ve got the right ideas, but you need to get with reality a bit more. Your repeated assertions of ‘things you know, which just ain’t so’, only make it harder for the rest of us who are trying to look at this from the basis of data and not emotions. Arguing from emotions and distorting the facts is what the anti-gunners do best, and you’re playing the rest of us right into their hands. And your giggling excuses of ‘tee-hee, my bad, never mind’ are just laughable. You would never accept that sort of crawfishing from an anti-gunner caught telling porkies – why should we accept it from you?



  • llamas

    Just one more:

    Kim du Toit wrote

    ‘In states which have concealed carry, (car-jacking) is a non-issue.’

    States like Texas, for example?

    I wonder if it was a non-issue for :

    – the folks carjacked in Red Bird (a Dallas suburb) on July 6th (reported in the Dallas News, subscription required)

    – the two women carjacked and sexually assaulted at knife-point in two separate incidents in Forth Worth in late April (reported in the DFW Star-Telegram, subscription required) The same suspect is also sought in a carjacking and murder in Houston.

    – the woman carjacked at Richland College in Dallas on March 24th.

    – the woman carjacked at the Garland DART station on February 23rd.

    Need I go on?

    Like I said – if it’s about crime, and Kim du Toit says it, you may be virtually certain that it’s wrong.



  • llamas,

    My post above your rants against Kim DO explain where there is a disconnect in the numbers. In addition, I pointed you to the source of the information, at the Home Office website, as well as explaining some of the disconnects in the data.

    You were banned on Kim’s site for being an ass to him and his readers. Carrying this thing you have against Kim to other sites on the Internet is childish.

  • A_t

    Paul H. “When I have to travel up north to such as New York, and thus leave my gun home. I then feel trapped in the motel rooms and I don’t go out at night as I would even in Dallas or Houston.”

    Hmm… ‘paranoid’, ‘fearful’ and ‘unrealistic’ spring to mind. ‘Sfar as I understand, NYC’s pretty safe. The only person trapping you in your motel room is yourself. I understand why people like owning guns, but feeling that insecure without one? Weird.

  • Explanation of data inconsistency between the England/Wales numbers and the U.S.

    (US DOJ)

    • Why did 1995 police statistics indicate higher violent crime rates in the United States than in England, while 1995 victim surveys indicated higher violent crime rates in England than in the United States?

    • If robbery were more often reported to police in the United States than in England, that might help to explain why the U.S. rate of robberies from police statistics is higher than England’s. But robberies were not more often reported to the U.S. (55% reported) than to the English (57% reported) police (figure 11). However, U.S. police did more often than the English police record robberies that came to their attention. Of all robberies reported to police in the United States in 1995, an estimated 78% were ultimately recorded as robberies in police statistics (figure 15). Of those reported to English police, a much smaller proportion — 35% — was officially recorded as robberies.

    • The assault rate from police statistics is higher in the United States than in England for two reasons. One is that assaults in 1995 were more often reported to police in the United States (54%) than in England (40%) (figure 12). The other is that, compared to police in England, police in the United States recorded a higher proportion of assaults that came to their attention in 1995 (virtually all in the United States versus 53% in England) (figure 16).

    Counting Rules from the Home Office website.

    As I indicated, when you did into the details and footnotes on the websites that provide this data, you will see why there is a huge gap in the way the numbers are recorded.

    Here are a few reports I’ve saved from The Telegraph:


    As I said above, the more you dig into this, the more you will find that these types of country-to-country comparisons are impossible.

    The original post was about perception. Unfortunately, perception is about as an accurate a measurement as we’re going to get.

  • llamas

    Mrs du Toit wrote:

    ‘My post above your rants against Kim DO explain where there is a disconnect in the numbers. In addition, I pointed you to the source of the information, at the Home Office website, as well as explaining some of the disconnects in the data.

    You were banned on Kim’s site for being an ass to him and his readers. Carrying this thing you have against Kim to other sites on the Internet is childish.’

    Nonsense. There can be no disconnect in the numbers when the numbers come from the same source. What is the disconnect, pray tell, in comparing the FBI Uniform Crime statistics for the cities of Dallas and New York? They have nothing to do with the Home Office website or anything else that you mentioned. If you had actually read what I have posted in this thread so far, you would see that at no point do I make any comparisons between statistics for different nations, or from different sources. You have me confused with someone else – why am I not surprised?

    For the rest, I have pointed out – again and again and again – where Kim’s statements of fact are simply unsupported by referenced data.

    As to being banned from Kim’s blog for being ‘an ass to him and his readers’ – well, you can state your opinion all day long. But you know and I know that I was banned for pointing out to you, and to another of his readers, that statements of fact which you and he (I assume it was a he) made were untrue – exactly as I have done here. If you want your opinion about why I was banned to have any weight, you should have Kim post the text of the offending post here, and see whether anyone else thinks I was being ‘an ass to him and his readers’. I contend that I was banned for the exact reason I cited above – for telling truths which Kim did not want to hear. Go ahead – prove me wrong.

    Do I have an acid tongue? Yes, I do. Get used to it. But my language and demeanour is certainly at a higher standard than the profanity that laces Kim’s blog, yet I was banned for being “insulting”? It is to laugh.

    I don’t have a ‘thing against Kim’, I’m sure he’s a lovely guy and I know we have many opinions in common. I have a thing against the bad data which he continually repeats as though it were fact – which he has amply demonstrated here. He shouldn’t be allowed too close to a keybaord without a fact-checker, and I contend that his lax approach to the facts of these issues is doing our common cause more harm than it does good. All he has to be is right, and you won’t hear a peep out of me.

    Childish? Well, you have a nice day, now. And I thought I was the insulting one . . .



  • Not to waste too much of Samizdata’s bandwidth with this nonsense, Llamas, you’ve taken a leap about Kim’s sources of reference and have chosen to use one set of data to “prove” your case against him. He qualified every statement he made with something like “according to memory.”

    And no, it doesn’t make sense to compare the same data in the BSJ, for some of the same reasons that make comparisons between countries difficult. Even in your own references you’ve sometimes chosen Plano and sometimes chosen Dallas, sometimes Dallas county and sometimes Dallas city. When you chose New York did you look at all 5 boroughs or the county? All of these variables matter in these comparisons. Before you attempt to challenge another person’s citations you have to first clarify what they meant/their sources. You have not done that.

    According to NY’s own statistics for crime there were 6,241 (per 100k) burglaries in 2002. According to Plano stats there were 572 (per 100k) in 2002. That would be 10:1 and Kim said it was something like 6:1. OK, he was wrong. It’s WORSE than he stated.

    You’ve also cleverly created a strawman by deciding what constitutes a mugging. Assault is now a mugging? You’ve created another strawman by suggesting that his assertions are not supported by referenced data–then you proceed to define his source of reference. That’s dishonest. Kim said the burglary rate was “something like 3 per 1,000.” It’s actually 5 per 1,000. He clearly stated he wasn’t certain, but that it was low, and gave an example of what he thought it was. That IS low so your quibbling is ridiculous.

    Llamas, this is my last response to you in this thread. It is clear to me you’re more interested in a gotcha than a reasonable debate/discussion.

  • llamas

    Mrs du Toit – your indignant outrage might be more meaningful were it not for the fact that the data you so triumphantly linked for New York City, to ‘prove’ that Kim was right, all along – is not for New York City but for New York County – which is a small subset (less than 20%) of New York City.

    (Take a look, folks. It says it quite clearly along the top of the page. In simple terms, Mrs du Toit is shifting the goalposts to make the answer come out more to her liking.)

    Those who actually care about data will go and search on this and find that New York County is just what these stats suggest that it is – the inner city. No doubt, if I were to look this selectively at a city like Dallas, I could also generate much higher stats than for the city as a whole. But we were comparing cities as a whole. When you say New York City, do you mean something other than the 5 boroughs? Noone else does.

    And you were wailing about ‘disconnects in the data’.

    Your claim about ‘5 burglaries in 1,000’ in Plano is likewise nonsense. This has already been debunked above, and Kim already admitted as much. In fact, I can see where you made your error, quite clearly. Hint – you should go back and read what Kim actually said, and not what you think he said. Then it will become clear.

    Of course this is your last post to me in this thread. Just like Kim, you’ve been caught playing fast-and-loose with the data. Just like Kim, your only response is to walk away. The difference being that you can’t ban me here, or delete the evidence.

    The last place that you are wrong is that you claim that I’m not interested in a reasonable discussion. That’s exactly what I want. But you can’t have a reasonable discussion when one side is presenting untruths – and that applies to you and yours, just as it does to the anti-gunners. You don’t like it when I catch you both speeding? Trsut me, the anti-gunners make hay with that sort of thing. Be thankful that you’re getting corrected by someone who, actually, quite a lot of the time, agrees with you.

    What, no parting insult? I’m disappointed in you.

    Have a nice day.



  • Paul

    Hmm… ‘paranoid’, ‘fearful’ and ‘unrealistic’ spring to mind. ‘Sfar as I understand, NYC’s pretty safe. The only person trapping you in your motel room is yourself. I understand why people like owning guns, but feeling that insecure without one? Weird.

    Posted by A_t at July 27, 2004 05:18 PM

    I guess you don’t know the wrong side of NY. It’s kind of like Bourbon Street in New Orleans. On some corners you are pretty safe, on others, they have a mugging weekly! Catch is, you have to know what corner. I don’t in NYC. That’s not being paranoid, that’s understanding your limits to knowledge of where you are.

  • A_t

    Paul, I understand what you’re saying, but the times i’ve been in NYC, i’ve never had any trouble. I suspect the street corners where there’s a ‘mugging weekly’ are pretty obvious & easy to avoid, & what’s more probably not in areas tourists are likely to be. Most towns’ rough areas are pretty easy to spot & avoid if you know what to look out for. London has many dangerous spots too, but I’ve stayed safe so far (touch wood), with no extra protection required. As I say, I understand your fear, but I think it’s unrealistic relative to the level of actual threat.

  • Paul


    Nice thing is here, if you want, you CAN take control of your safety. A large part of the world that is not the case. I know New Orleanse, just as I know Dallas and Houston.

    Funny thing is, my wife and her friend, both nurses going to a nurse convention in Dallas, got lost in South Dallas (bad part of town.) Very run down part of it. Her friend, who always likes to have real gold jewelrey, hurredly took off the jewelry and they had to get her cell phone and call the hotel (by DFW airport, way way off) to get directions as to how to get there. Their Smith & Wesson Centennial was a comfort in that situation as it was night.

    The weapon is like a fire extinguisher. 99.9 percent of the time you don’t need it. But having it there, and the skill to use it, is most comforting and lets you put more time in finding way out as you don’t have the fear someone has who knows they are helpless.

    Ever come to U.S.A., take a good class from such as Rangemaster in Tenn. The instructors are LEO (not ex-LEO, but current LEO’s in Memphis, the crime capital of U.S!) Very enlightning. I’ve been to several and teach CHL (Concealed Handgun License) classes here in Texas.


  • Cobden Bright

    Gun ban Brazil is far more dangerous than gun free America, which is in turn more dangerous than gun ban UK, which is more dangerous than gun free Switzerland.

    I think this conclusively proves that comparing statistics across different countries is not very useful. The lack of control over other key factors such as quality and quantity of policing, cultural factors, economic disparities, and so on, means that such comparisons are almost meaningless.

    The closest we’ve had to a controlled experiment is the varying gun laws in the USA. We’ve had the same state go from gun ban to gun freedom in numerous cases – the various statistical evidence gathered demonstrates a range of outcomes from a sustained fall in violent crime to no statistically significant change.

    In addition, gun ban areas in the US also have the highest levels of violent crime – gun freedom areas have the lowest. And remember, the comparative crime statistics do not point out the enormous number of occasions in the US where a citizen with a gun has deterred or prevented a crime from being perpetrated. Without guns, these crimes would have gone ahead – it is literally impossible for that to have done anything other than significantly increased the crime rate.

    Furthermore, it is absolutely undeniable that in areas of civil unrest or even civil war, massacres and even genocide have occured almost exclusively when the population is mostly or fully disarmed.

    So the utilitarian argument is very strongly weighted in favour of guns. Gun legalisation does not increase crime, and most likely reduces it. It also prevents mass slaughters.

    However, there is a more pertinent question to ask – would you personally be safer or more at danger if you had a gun or not? If the answer is that you would be safer with a gun, then that is the end of the argument – you are being put in danger by your government’s ban on guns, or your own personal unwillingness to be prepared to defend yourself. If you don’t have a gun, then your personal safety, and the safety of those around you, is entirely at the mercy of criminals. The police are absolutely unable to prevent crime while it is occuring – they merely arrive aftewards and try to catch the culprit. So you can go about your way unmolested solely because criminals decide not to attack you – if they chose to, there is little or nothing you could do about it.

    Is this a desireable state of affairs? If not, then what is the evidence in favour of a gun ban?

  • Michael

    Hey, I moved a year ago from Finland where my car being broke into was not recorded even though I went to the police station and they took fingerprints off the door! The officer told me he’ll hold on to the prints but didn’t want to make a report that would effect crime numbers locally. I now live in Plano Texas and don’t keep the doors locked-funny cuz we lock the door when friends 15 month old comes over, he can open the door and get to the pool. I feel really safe here- I take long walks and bike rides almost every evening “exploring” the local area, almost everyone I pass says hi, or howdy. Many times walking, people stop to ask if a ride is needed, I think others feel safe here too. In places I lived in Finland, I had to “watch my back” and watch over my cars and stuff. 3 times my car was broken into, kind of petty stuff, radios and personal items missing. Can’t really comment on all the numbers posted, but I live a care-free here. Hope it stays that way! Greetings from north Dallas…..