Lott continues to mispresent

In his latest op-ed Lott continues his misrepresentations about crime in Australia and England:

The British government banned handguns in January 1997 but recently reported that gun crime in England and Wales nearly doubled in the seven years from 1996 to 2003. Since '96, the rate of serious violent crime has soared by 88 percent: armed robberies by 101 percent, rapes by 105 percent and homicide by 24 percent.

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 1993 levels. The crooks still had guns, but not their victims.

Australia's 1996 gun-control regulations banned many types of guns and the immediate aftermath was similar. Crime rates averaged 32 percent higher in the six years after the law was passed (from 1997 to 2002) than in 1995. The same comparisons for armed robbery rates showed an increase of 74 percent, reversing a previous decline.

Lott, of course, has cherry picked his numbers. He carefully picks his numbers to avoid mentioning the dramatic decline in violent crime in England since 1996. As for Australia, note the use of the word "immediate" so he can avoid mentioning the recent large reductions in armed robbery which is now below what it was when the law was passed. And he'll never admit that the firearms murder rate has halved since the law was passed.

Letting more law-abiding citizens own guns may actually save police lives. Many countries, from Britain to Brazil, have learned this the hard way. There are also a large number of peer-reviewed academic studies showing that letting private citizens own guns reduces violent crime, and some work finds that gun crime falls even faster than overall violent crime.

Well, a large number of studies by Lott at any rate. A National Academy of Sciences panel reviewed all those studies and concluded:

There is no credible evidence that 'right-to-carry' laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime.

More like this

BTW, violent crime especially murder has picked up very nicely in the US lately. Must be the gun ban. You know, like the DDT ban, not a real ban but a bunch of damn liberals making people feel bad about themselves for owning guns.

Actually, violent crime is down the first 6 months of 05 while murder is up after a near record fall from last year.

He's totally misrepresenting the situation in the UK. You couldn't own a handgun for self-defense in the UK prior to 1997. Sport shooting only. You cannot claim to be a serious scholar on this subject and not know this - but then again its Trent Lott. There is a growing problem with guns in the UK (cheap guns flooding in from Yugoslavia, and a government too stupid to crack down on a particular type of replica that can be converted back into a working gun) - but its from a pretty low base.

"So you could own one for sport shooting? Seems that if you did, you could use it for self-defense."

Handguns had to be stored at a shooting range. Longarms can be stored in the home in the UK. This website runs done the permit and storage requirments for England and Wales http://www.met.police.uk/firearms-enquiries/index.htm

Cian, I think you meant John Lott not Trent.

Re #7. Another UK voice here ... I am not sure that Cian is right in detail about the law prior to 1997, but he is absolutely right in spirit. Whatever the law, gun ownership in the UK population was tiny prior to 1997. Unless a criminal was involved in gang warfare they would be incredibly unlikely to come across a victim that was armed and it is totally implausible to suggest that gun ownership represented some kind of deterrent to crime.

As Tim points out Lott has been ridiculously selective in his figures on UK crime (although to be completely fair Tim should also point to the reported crime figures which are less rosy but need detailed interpretation). It seems to me that Lott is a nutter. Why waste time on him?

By Mark Frank (not verified) on 20 Dec 2005 #permalink

you could in principle have a pistol in your house pre 1997 but the storage requirements were so onerous that few did.

"Actually, violent crime is down the first 6 months of 05"

Indeed, I sit corrected, violent crime continues to drop continuously.

"while murder is up after a near record fall from last year."

Well, if dropping .2% after a three year hiatus in what had previously been 6 years of dropping .75% per year after 4 years of dropping .2% per year is a near record fall, then the Bush administration can be justly proud.......

US murder rate per 100k

2004 5.5
2003 5.7
2002 5.6
2001 5.6
2000 5.5
1999 5.7
1998 6.3
1996 7.4
1994 9.0
1992 9.3
1990 9.8
1988 8.4
1986 8.5
1984 7.9
1982 9.1
1980 10.2


In addition to the storage requirements, target-shooting pistols are typically single-shot and can have barrels a foot or more in length.

They're not exactly a practical self-defence option.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 20 Dec 2005 #permalink

The Academy said:"There is no credible evidence that 'right-to-carry' laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime."

There is also no credible evidence in the world that laws banning guns have decreased crime or prevented criminals from getting guns. It's that simple: forbid something and you'll create a black market. Black markets have never been controled by authorities --see the drug problem. Remember the 1920 Prohibition? Have we learned something?

Self defense (by any means) is a right that cannot be taken away from law abiding citizens. As we say in Argentina about the benefits or dangers of killing a burglar in our home or being killed by him: "It is better to be judged by three than be carried by six."

"Black markets have never been controled by authorities -see the drug problem. Remember the 1920 Prohibition? Have we learned something?"

So presumably you support legalising child prostitution and murder for hire?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 23 Dec 2005 #permalink

Eduardo, your assertion contains a false assumption and faulty logic. Laws banning guns are there to make it considerably more difficult for criminals to obtain guns, not prevent them from obtaining them. The laws also make it easier to identify a criminal. In Canada, where guns have been banned for decades, the murder rate is far lower than in the USA. The difficulty in obtaining and owning handguns in Canada most certainly has made a difference.

By Chris Jarrett (not verified) on 23 Dec 2005 #permalink