Gun control has not worked in Canada. Since the new gun registration program started in 1998, the U.S. homicide rate has fallen, but the Canadian rate has increased.
On the left you can see a graph of Canadian homicide rates for the last ten years (data from Statistics Canada). Since 1998 the homicide rate has pretty obviously gone down. So how were Lott and Lehrer able to come up with an increase? Simple. In 1998 the rate was 1.84, while in 2002 the rate was 1.85 (details). They picked the year after the law with the highest homicide rate (2002). Then they picked the year before the law with the lowest homicide rate (1998). Even then they got numbers with the smallest possible difference in rates. But they didn’t tell you that, trying to make it seem that the increase was significant.
Lott then goes on to cut and paste his previous cherry picked statistics purporting to show that crime in England and Australia has increased. I dealt with these in a previous post.
Lott and Lehrer continue with:
violent crime has fallen even faster in right-to-carry states than for the nation as a whole.
This is not true. The most comprehensive study on this (Ayers and Donohue’s Stanford Law Review paper) finds that crime has tended to fall faster in the states without carry laws.
The states with the fastest growth in gun ownership have also experienced the biggest drops in violent crime rates.
This is from an analysis (page 114 of More Guns, Less Crime) based on two surveys of gun ownership (conducted in 1988 and 1996) that purported to show that a 1% increase in a state’s gun ownership causes a 4.1% decrease in the violent crime rate and a 3.2% decrease in auto theft.
Lott’s two polls indicate that gun ownership increased by 50% in just eight years, from 26% to 39%. This is contradicted by everything else we know about gun ownership:
Since 1959, there have been at least 86 different surveys on gun ownership *. There doesn’t seem to have been in any increase over that period, let alone over 1988-1996. The percentage of the population that declared they were gun owners varied between 25% and 35%, but there was no clear trend. It seems that the changes in the numbers are caused by sampling error, differently worded questions, and changes in the willingness of people to admit to gun ownership. Lott’s apparent increase is an artifact of his having looked at just two polls instead of many.
My thanks to Carl Jarret for first pointing out Lott’s cherry picking of the Canadian statistics.