More Lott cherry picking

In Lott's latest column he cuts and pastes his previous cherry picking on England, so I'll just repeat my correction: He carefully picks his numbers to avoid mentioning the dramatic decline in violent crime in England since 1996. As for Australia, he finds yet another way to avoid mentioning how violent crime has been falling here:

Australia's 1996 gun-control regulations banned many types of guns and the immediate aftermath was similar. While murder rates remained unchanged, armed robbery rates averaged 59% higher in the eight years after the law was passed (from 1997 to 2004) than in 1995.

He averaged the armed robbery rate over eight years to hide the fact that it is now lower than when the law was passed. Furthermore, if you compare the murder rates the way that he compared the armed robbery rates, they were not "unchanged" but declined by 12%.

But his column isn't pure recycled stuff---he has a new example where he implies that criminals took advantage of the disarmed Irish:

The Republic of Ireland banned and confiscated all handguns and all center fire rifles in 1972, but murder rates rose fivefold by 1974 and in the 20 years after the ban has averaged 114% higher than the pre-ban rate (never falling below at least 31% higher).

So do you think that Lott is completely ignorant about the recent history of Ireland or did he deliberately conceal it from his readers? In 1972 the Republic of Ireland did ban handguns and large calibre rifles. And the number of murders did increase from 10 in 1971 to 51 in 1974 (numbers from here). What Lott failed to mention is the reason for the gun ban in Ireland was not to reduce homicides there (they only had 10 murders a year in a country of three million people for heaven's sake!), but to cut off the supply of guns to Northern Ireland. Lott also failed to mention is that the reason for the big increase in murder in 1974 was the terrorist bombings in Dublin and Monaghan which killed 33 people. It's as if he blamed the enormous increase in the homicide rate in New York City in 2001 on gun control there.

More like this

"It's as if he blamed the enormous increase in the homicide rate in New York City in 2001 on gun control there."

Give him some time, he'll try it.

By Chris Jarrett (not verified) on 10 Jan 2006 #permalink

Oddly enough an armed crook in Ireland would have had more reason to fear being shot in the early 1970s than at most other times. Irish policemen (Gardai) do not normally carry guns but at that time Special Branch detectives were armed, typically with handguns but sometimes with automatic weapons. They were nicknamed "the heavy gang" and not without reason. I recall talking to a Nigerian visitor who got a bad fright on arriving in Galway in the aftermath of a bank raid. He saw lots of muscular armed men in suits giving orders to uniformed Gardai and quite naturally concluded that mobsters had taken over the town.

By Kevin Donoghue (not verified) on 10 Jan 2006 #permalink

On Lott's arguments about Australian gun control: what is missing, to my mind, is some sort of explanation of why the gun control laws would have caused armed robberies to increase.

I assume that the argument goes something like this: only law-abiding citizens obey gun laws, so with tougher gun control the crooks feel like they can rob banks, or people, and not expect to get shot back at.

But Australia is not Texas (or wherever) - as far as I know it's never been legal (even before the 96 gun laws) to carry a weapon in public. The one policy change that you might expect would affect the incentive to commit armed robbery - ie. tightening up on concealed carrying - never really happened in Australia. Surely Lott's argument is only really relevant if we are talking about concealed carry laws.

Happy to be corrected on the legal detail - but either way I would be surprised if any Australians know of a (non-criminal) compatriot who has ever carried a gun for self defense.