Lehrer and Lott have recycled their previous cherrypicking exercise into an article in the Investor’s Business Daily falsely claiming that gun control in Britain, Canada and Australia have lead to “historic increases in crime”. Mostly they repeat their previous claims, so I’ll just comment on the new ones. They claim that “overall violent crime” in England increased by 118%. The graph above (from Chapter 5 of Crime in England and Wales 2002/2003) shows how utterly false their claim is. Since 1997, violent crime has declined significantly. Where did their 118% increase come from?
Well, the second graph shows the number of violent crimes recorded by the police. To get the increase that Lott and Lehrer claim, all you have to do is use the police numbers and ignore the footnote on the graph, which says (my emphasis):
“There is a discontinuity in the police recorded trend for violence in 1998 when new offence categories were added to police recorded violence, notably common assault, and new crime counting rules were introduced. The numbers of recorded violent crimes before and after this change should not be compared, as they are not on the same basis.”
Lott and Lehrer claim:
the exploding crime rates (including gun crime) in countries that have banned all guns shows that we can add gun control to the list of government planning efforts that do not live up to their billing.
Their article only mentions gun crime in England. That’s because gun crime in Australia and Canada, far from exploding, has decreased (see Australian and Canadian figures). This is not a problem for cherry pickers like Lott and Lehrer—they just deceive their readers by only reporting the increases in crime and not the decreases. And often when there have been decreases, like violent crime in England and homicide in Canada, they report them as increases.
Lehrer does some solo cherry picking at NRO, writing:
Since American crime rates peaked in the early 1990s, crime has fallen in 48 American states and over 80 percent of America’s major cities. Meanwhile, it has risen in six of Canada’s ten major providences [sic] and seven of its ten largest cities.
The crime rate in Canada has fallen significantly since the early 90s. I don’t have the crime figures for each province, so i don’t know whether Lehrer’s claim is more cherry picking or just wrong.
Lehrer also wrongly compares the overall crime rate in Canada with that in the US. The crime rate is defined differently in the two places, so cannot be compared. He also repeats the cherry picked claims from his work with Lott: “Both the United Kingdom and Australia have seen crime soar”. Lehrer seems well suited to collaborate with Lott.
Update: The earliest crime figures by city I could find at StatsCan were for 1995. Between 1995 and 2002 the crime rate has decreased in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Hamilton and Quebec. The only large cities where it has increased are Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary. Now Lehrer’s claim was about changes since the early nineties, but the overall crime rate in Canada was even higher then, so his claim about increases in most cities is likely false.