The National Post has printed a letter from Gary Mauser commenting on the Lott/Lehrer oped I discussed earlier. Here is the whole thing:

It should not surprise many people that Canada’s gun laws have not worked (More Gun Control Isn’t The Answer, John R. Lott Jr., June 15). Anyone living in a big Canadian city has witnessed the horrifying increase in violent crime over the past decade.

Canada’s violent crime rate is now higher than in the United States. Our burglary and assault rates are particularly frightening, and illegal handguns are increasingly misused in our largest cities.

This is the result of the Liberal government’s failure to punish violent criminals and instead to criminalize hunters and target shooters if they fail to get a licence and to register their shotguns and rifles.

Nor do gun laws work any better in Great Britain or Australia. In a recent study for the Fraser Institute, I showed that gun laws in those countries have failed to stop increases in violent crime and homicides.

In contrast, violent crime and homicide rates are plummeting in the United States. Violent crime is dropping even faster in those states that allow citizens to carry concealed handguns.

When is Ottawa going to get serious about stopping violent criminals?

There are several problems with Mauser’s letter.

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Above is a graph of the “horrifying increase in violent crime over the past decade” in Canada. If you compare the violent crime rate now with that of ten years ago, you’ll see that it has actually gone down. There has been no increase, let alone a “horrifying” one. And guess where this graph comes from? His own Fraser Institute Study.. He even refers to it in his letter.

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And look at the graph in Mauser’s paper immediately before the one showing violent crime rates. In his letter Mauser writes “in contrast violent crime and homicide rates are plummeting in the United States”. But his own graph shows that homicide rates are dropping in Canada in parallel with those in the US.

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Mauser also claims that “Canada’s violent crime rate is now higher than in the United States”. What he fails to mention that the “violent crime rate” in the Canadian statistics includes simple assaults but in the US statistics it only includes aggravated assaults. The graph above (from here) shows that the robbery and aggravated assault rates are actually lower in Canada. Moreover, Mauser is well aware of this since in his study he refers to this very graph (it’s from Gannon (2001)) when he writes:

“The comparison here shows the official statistics from both countries. Gannon (2001) constructs indices of violent crime that are more directly comparable. In her analysis, the trends in violent crime in the two countries resemble each other more closely, but her data also show that violent crime in Canada is increasing while it is decreasing in the United States.”

The graph clearly shows that robberies are decreasing in Canada. Mauser seems to consistently call decreases increases when it suits his argument.

His references to violent crime and homicide increases in Great Britain and Australia are also incorrect. Violent crime in England has decreased significantly since their gun ban. The number of violent crimes recorded by police has increased because of increased reporting and changes in recording practices. Mauser reports the police figures to try to make it look as if violent crime has increased even though the more accurate British Crime Survey figures show that it decreased. And he his well aware of what the BCS shows a decrease since he mentions it but buries it in an endnote and does not admit its significance. As for Australia, his own graph shows that homicide has decreased, but as usual he calls it an increase.

In his study he also claims:

Professor [sic] John Lott has shown how violent crime has fallen faster in those states that have introduced concealed carry laws than in the rest of the United States.

Of course, my readers will be well aware that Ayres and Donohue’s more comprehensive study has shown that crime has actually tended to fall faster in the states without carry laws, and that Lott’s results go away when his coding errors are corrected. Mauser is well aware of Ayres and Donohue’s work—we discussed it at great length in 2002 and 2003 on the firearmsregprof list, a mail list that Mauser is on, and yet he does not mention their work at all. In fact he doesn’t cite any critics of Lott at all.

Oh, and guess who is a Senior Fellow of the Fraser Institute, the think tank that drafted Mauser’s study: Our old friend Ross McKitrick.

Comments

  1. #1 Carl Jarrett
    June 23, 2004

    Another person making an appearance on the ‘Gun Control in Canada issue’ is Maxim (maximlott87@aol.com). He’s made several attempts to defend the Lott/Lehrer op-ed.

    Do you really think that the person posting as Maxim is actually Lott’s son or do you think it’s just Lott demonstrating his inability to control himself.

  2. #2 Lars
    June 23, 2004

    It should be obvious from Tim’s work here that the Fraser Institute is just a Canadian version of the Cato Institute, the Heartland Institute, et cetera ad nauseam – the sort of specious, dishonest “research” documented above is typical of the Fraser Institute’s work on environmental issues, law and order issues and just what, exactly, is it that we mean by the term “poor people”. Not surprising that this bit of fan-dancing should come out right now (nor that it should come out in the Post – its motto should be “A bad idea is hard to kill”, a direct quote that I took from one of their editorials once and suggested to them as a masthead banner – no response, strangely) – we are in the middle of a federal election here, and the retrograde Conservative Party is campaigning, oddly enough, on a combined anti-environmental, ant-bilingualism, anti-gun-control, pro lawn’order platform. The Frasers will always be there for them…especially as it looks (horrors) as if they might win a majority this time.

    Thanks for the careful work, Tim.

  3. #3 Kevin
    June 24, 2004

    Your interpetation of these graphs is absurd.

    “On the left is a graph of the “horrifying increase in violent crime over the past decade” in Canada. If you compare the violent crime rate now with that of ten years ago, you’ll see that it has actually gone down.”

    Never mind what Lott said. I don’t know who Lott is, or care at this point. Look at the charts and ask these simple questions.

    After 1999, is Canada’s violent crime rate increasing or decreasing?
    After 1999, did Canada’s gun control laws weaken?
    After 1999, is US’s violent crime rate increasing or decreasing?
    After 1999, did US’s gun control laws weaken?

    I’ll give you that over the last ten years, the violent crime rate has declined has declined, but you need to acknowledge that over the last 5 it has increased (according to the graphs).

    Next question:
    Why does Canada have a higher homicide rate (since 96) than the US when Canada is presumed to have tougher gun laws?

  4. #4 Tim Lambert
    June 24, 2004

    Kevin, if you want to talk about trends after 1999, you’ll have to wait until there is more data. Two years is just not enough. Canada’s homicide rate is much lower than the US. The graph has two scales, one for Canada, one for the US.