More cherry picking from Lott

Lott has a new article at Fox News where he claims that gun control is unravelling:

Crime did not fall in England after handguns were banned in January 1997. Quite the contrary, crime rose sharply. Yet, serious violent crime rates from 1997 to 2002 averaged 29 percent higher than 1996; robbery was 24 percent higher; murders 27 percent higher. Before the law, armed robberies had fallen by 50 percent from 1993 to 1997, but as soon as handguns were banned, the robbery rate shot back up, almost back to their 1993 levels.

Australia has also seen its violent crime rates soar after its Port Arthur gun control measures (search) in late 1996. Violent crime rates averaged 32 per cent higher in the six years after the law was passed (from 1997 to 2002) than they did the year before the law in 1996. The same comparisons for armed robbery rates showed increases of 45 percent.

The 2000 International Crime Victimization Survey, the most recent survey done, shows that the violent crime rate in England and Australia was twice the rate in the US.

Lott as usual, has cherry picked his statistics. There are lots of different crime statistics to choose from and some show increases while other show decreases. Lott just tells his readers about the ones that show increases. Violent crime in England has actually decreased significantly since the gun ban. See the graph here. It looks like Lott chose to use the figures for police recorded crimes rather than the more accurate ones from the British Crime Survey. The police figures have gone up because of changes in recording practices and increases in the reporting rate, not because the actual number of violent crimes have increased. Of course he uses figures from the International Crime Victimization Survey in the last paragraph when it suits his purpose. These also show a violent crime decrease in England.

In any case, the advocates of the gun laws did not claim that they would reduce crimes committed without guns. Lott somehow forgot to mention what happened to the with-gun robbery rate. (The “armed robbery” rates he quotes include robberies committed with other weapons.) Here is a table containing the crime figures for Australia. (I also have them in a spreadsheet.) In the last column of my table I compare the average for 1993–1996 with the average for 1997–2002. The with-gun robbery rate has declined by 10%. Don’t expect Lott to ever admit this. Now, it is true that some rates have increased—for example the assault-with-firearm rate has increased, but the total gun crime rate has decreased. Certainly, Lott’s claim that gun control is “unravelling” is not supportable.

Comments

  1. #1 ben
    May 24, 2004

    well, it seems to me that Lott is pretty bad when it comes to stats. On the other hand, he is correct about the so-called “assault weapons ban” being a worthless piece of junk. It annoys law-abiding gun owners, and it doesn’t accomplish much else. People here in the states are beginning to see this, and that is why it will unravel.

    for instance, my two lab-mates are PhD students in Aerospace engineering, and they were both duped by the media about what the “assault weapons” ban actually bans. They were certain that the law bans machine guns and were quite surprised to learn that it does no such thing (that machine guns were banned back in the 1930′s except with very special permit was unknown to them). Anyway, they don’t have much concern with the bayonette mounts or pistol grips mentioned in the law. Neither do the max 10 round magazines make any sense (just get another gun, or heck, learn to reload in 2.1 seconds, not much trouble there). This silly law is doomed.

    the notion that the second amendment is there for the protection of liberty is also lost on most people (unfortunately). Most act as though it’s there to protect hunting and sport shooting (and a little self defense from criminals). I think the gun crowd might be a little more ammenable to some so-called “common sense” gun control if the gun control crowd would for once and for all, and in unambiguous terms, emblazen the right to own and bear arms in the constitution (including the right to rifles, shotguns and handguns, without limit in number of rounds, nor features such as bayonette mounts and pistol grips). Then they could try to get a handle on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and that alone.

    As long as they maintain their disingenuous stance on guns (we all know that they want to grab ‘em all, just like in England and Australia), we (gun types) will not budge. They will take, and take more, and take more ad nausium, until there’s nothing left to take, and our liberty is at the mercy of the state.

  2. #2 ChrisPer
    June 9, 2004

    It is entertaining to pick on cherry picked stats. If you look at the WHOLE results as Tim describes, it seems to imply that neither concealed carry nor bans on anything, have ANY serious effects at all. I wonder if the frame of reference is just WRONG – it is really about individual choices to commit crimes and that is where we should be putting our efforts.

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