Contrary to your claims of the Americanisation of armed robbery in Britain, one could only hope that robbery in England and Wales was truly becoming Americanised (“You’re history“, January 3rd). The International Crime Victimisation Survey shows that for 2000, the latest year available, the robbery rate in England and Wales was twice America’s rate.
Equally tellingly, your figure shows that armed robberies stopped falling in England and Wales in 1997 and started rising dramatically almost immediately afterwards. Was not the 1997 handgun ban in Britain supposed to reduce armed robberies? By contrast, American robbery rates have fallen during the 1990s just as more and more Americans have been able to carry concealed handguns for protection.
Lott is up to his usual tricks in his letter. First, although the article was about armed robbery, he compares the English and American robbery rates, instead of the firearm robbery rates. That makes an enormous difference. In the US, 40% of robberies involve firearms, while in England the figure is 4% (see section 3.20). I don’t think that we should hope that the 4% figure turns into 40%.
Second, he tries to blame the increase in firearms robberies after 1997 on the handgun ban and misstates the purpose of the ban. The ban was a response to the shootings at Dunblane and was intended to prevent something like that happening again. Nor is their a plausible mechanism for it to have increased firearms robberies.
Third, while robbery rates have fallen in the 90s in the US, Lott does not mention that they fell the most in the states that did not make it easier for people to carry concealed guns.
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