Chad Perrin: SOB

2 June 2009

Statistics 101: US Gun Crime vs. UK Knife Crime

Filed under: Cognition,Geek,Humor,Liberty,RPG,Writing — apotheon @ 01:09

All too often, I find myself reading some line of nonsense about how gun control legislation is important to protect the lives of citizens, all “proven” by gun crime statistics in the US. In one discussion in particular, some hoplophobic idiot tried to tell me that the fact guns account for the weapon of choice in more murders than all other weapons combined means they’re too dangerous to allow people to have. This says nothing at all about the actual murder rate, and the effect of gun control legislation on the murder rate — just that, even if the murder rate is lower in the presence of firearms, guns end up having the largest share of the murder market in the US.

An alternative theory of the statistic might go something like this:

  1. More guns in the hands of private citizens discourage people from committing murder with knives.

  2. The number of murders with knives declined, and the number of murders with guns remained constant.

  3. The overall number of murders decreased because of the decline in knife murder rates, so the percentage of murders committed with guns increased even though the number of gun murders remained constant.

I don’t have any idea whether that’s an accurate explanation for the higher rate of gun murders than knife murders in the US. The statistical basis for proving or disproving this kind of theory of the effect guns have on murder rates doesn’t exactly exist. It certainly is a plausible-sounding hypothesis, though, and no less supported by the lone statistic of 68% of murders in the US in 2006 being committed with guns.

The same guy, in the same comment where he pointed out that more murders are committed with guns than with any other weapon in the US, also linked to UK gun crime figures. Well, sure, let’s compare crime rates in the UK with those in the US. We’ve already established that gun crimes are more numerous in the US than knife crimes, and I’ll stipulate for the sake of argument that gun crimes are more numerous in the US than in the UK (though there are niggling holes in that comparison, too). Let’s try a different comparison. Note that I’m probably overestimating the UK population and underestimating the US population in these statistical comparisons, which favors the UK in terms of estimating low crime rates (since these rates are measured per capita). The same goes for the fact I’m underestimating UK crime incidences and overestimating US incidences. Despite heavily favoring the UK for determining the per capita statistics, I think you’ll find the results illuminating:

  • In or about 2006, there were about 60 million (actually closer to 58M, but we’ll use the rounded-up number to be kind to hopolophobes) people in the UK as a whole, including Scotland.

  • In England and Wales alone — discounting Scotland — there were over 163 thousand knife crimes.

  • By the end of 2006, there were more than 300 million people in the US as a whole.

  • In the US as a whole, there were fewer than 400 thousand gun crimes.

  • In the UK, based on these numbers, there was one knife crime commited for every 374 people (rounded down).

  • In the US, based on these numbers, there was one gun crime committed for every 750 people — less than half a gun crime per 374 people (about 0.4987 gun crimes per 374 people, actually).

  • That means that, based on these statistics, you are more than twice as likely to be a victim of knife crime in the UK as you are to be a victim of gun crime in the US.

Statistical studies can be great tools for determining the results of policy changes, but the devil lies in the details. Simply picking a number out of thin air — like the fact that 68% of murders are committed by the use of a firearm in the US — in no way proves anything other than that 68% of murders are committed by the use of a firearm. That alone doesn’t mean you’re in more danger in the US because of laxer gun control legislation than in the UK, where firearms are all but entirely prohibited (hey, at least the police can check them out of the supply room under very extreme circumstances — right?).

Note that even the statistical comparisons I present here are not sufficient to prove a case. There are too many other variables in comparisons between crime rates in the UK and in the US to reasonably expect any real certainty about exactly what effect gun control laws have in either country. A far more reliable statistical comparison for purposes of determining the effect of gun control legislation is, as I pointed out in gun control arguments aren’t exactly “rigorous”, to compare crime statistics before the passage or repeal of a gun law to those after the passage of the law — say, the three years prior and the three years after. Other factors will come into play, but given enough case studies, trends will definitely be seen to emerge.

If you aren’t prepared to produce statistics like that, you aren’t prepared to produce statistics that prove anything worthwhile about the efficacy of gun control legislation.

statistical sources:

116 Comments

  1. This is your best response yet, Chad. I only hope future respondents will read it (#100!) before they re-rehash all of the arguments that it refutes.

    It strikes me that the “UK attitude” (for lack of a better term) is to treat citizens like children: they can hurt themselves with guns, so let’s take the guns away. It ignores not only the individual liberty of adults who should be allowed to make decisions for themselves, but all other differences between the parent/child analogy and the government/governed relationship.

    Comment by Sterling Camden — 12 January 2011 @ 09:08

  2. Thanks, Sterling.

    Unfortunately, I’ve made the same points over and over again, dozens of times, and every single time I do so the same thing happens:

    Someone comes along and says “Your statistics suck. Mine are better, and because of that, I can draw a simplistic line illustrating a causal relationship between two variables cherry-picked out of literally millions of influencing factors to confirm my biases.” It’s not even just “somebody” that comes along and does that — it’s many people, one after another, each doing exactly the same thing as the previous, following exactly the same pattern, with only the most superficial variations.

    I only hope future respondents will read it (#100!) before they re-rehash all of the arguments that it refutes.

    In short . . . I doubt it. Even if they do read it, future respondents will probably miss the point and try to come up with examples or statistics to “refute” mine, as if they completely ignored the actual point of what I said — because I cynically believe that most people ignore the point of what others say when it doesn’t fit into their convenient, simplistic world-views.

    I hope to be pleasantly surprised; I always hope to be pleasantly surprised, despite the relentlessly consistent evidence that suggests I will not. I’m not going to hold my breath, though.

    Comment by apotheon — 12 January 2011 @ 11:15

  3. Chad,

    Thank you for the response. I find your arguments interesting although rather misguided.

    I understand and share you caution for raw statistics. However, I find your reluctance to place any weight on wide spread statistical data to be more than a little disingenuous. Based on every study that I seen, the number of deaths a result of crime (which you can define any way you want: homicide, murder, manslaughter, self-defense etc.) all indicate that the per capita number of deaths a result of crime (which for the purposes of this post I will define as murder) is higher in the US than the UK. I admit I have not read every study out there but if there is a study that comes to a contrary conclusion I would like to see it.

    I also agree that there are a number of factors that influence the per capita murder rates in the US and the UK but again I belive you are being more than a little disingenuous to deny the fact that gun ownership and gun control may be one factor. The reason that the US and the UK are often compares is because socio-economically the countries are similar, which helps isolate and limit many of the variables that impact murder rates. As I just stated I am aware that variable do exist but I am not blind to the fact that one of those variable is gun ownership and gun control.

    Your assertion regarding gang violence is also somewhat troubling. There are numerous gangs in the UK and there is also much gang violence in the UK. I haven’t seen a study that compares gang membership rates and the level of gang violence in the US and the UK, but to imply as you do, that the murder rate is higher in the US than the UK simply because gang members want to kill each other, is misguided and confuses the issue. You seem to ignore the fact and implicitly seem to admit that the reason that gang members in the US kill each other so easily is because of gunss. Based on your general premise that gun ownership prevents crime and makes society safer, if guns are readably available and widespread among gangs then surely such high levels of gun ownership would decrease the level of gang related murders.

    Further my admission that gun crime is on the rise in the UK by no way indicates that gun control does not and is not working in the UK. My admission is simply that I am aware of the reality of the situation and am not blinkered to the fact that gun control is all encompassing solution. I posit to you, that were it not for gun control in the UK, the rate of gun crime in the UK would be far higher than it is now. Since the opening of borders as a result of the UK joining the EU, the ease with which people and contraband goods can enter the UK has increased dramatically. In fact, there has been a significant increase in organized crime in the UK as a result of the influx of predominatly Eastern Europeans into the UK. Gun control will never completely stop guns getting into the hands of criminals and eliminate gun crime. But gun control does make the ease with which such a criminal element can access guns much more difficult. I, of course, cannot prove my assertion that gun crime would be worse in the UK were it not for gun control but based on your analysis that gang violence, involving gun, is big factor in gun crime statistics, then I think you would have to agree that if guns in the UK were more readably available to gangs in the UK, the level of gun crime would increase.

    Another item you seem to overlook in your general analysis is that the vast majority of murder is not premeditated and planned. The vast majority of murders are crimes of opportunity and circumstance. The opportunity to kill someone and the degree to which violent crime can escalate into murder is far greater when guns are present. For example, if I get in a dispute with someone in a bar that is taken outside, the likelihood of someone getting killed with fists or a bottle is far less than if a gun is present.

    With regards to mass shootings and killings, I am willing to admit that someone determined to kill and maim will find a way to do so regardless of whether they can buy a gun at their local WalMart. However, the widespread availability of guns does make the opporunity for such massacres much more likely. If we compare such massacres in the US and the UK, I can only think of three in the UK in the last 25 years:

    Cumbria in 2010 (12 people killed); Dunblane in 1996 (17 people killed); and Hungerford in 1987 (16 peeople killed).

    The list in the US is as follows:

    Tuscon, AZ in 2010 (6 killed); Manchester, CT in 2010 (9 killed; Appomattox, VA in 2010 (8 killed); Fort Hood, TX in 2009 (12 killed); Binghamton, NY in 2009 (13 killed); Carthage, NC in 2009 (8 killed); Santa Clara, CA in 2009 (5 killed); Geneva County, AL in 2009 (10 killed); Northern Illinois University, IL in 2008 (5 killed); Omaha, Nebraska in 2007 (8 killed); Virginia Teach in 2007 (32 killed); West Nickel Mines Amish School, PA in 2006 (5 killed);, Red Lake High School, MN in 2005 (9 killed); Brookfield, Wisconsin in 2005 (7 killed); Edgewater Technologies, MA in 2000 (7 killed); Honolulu, Hawaii in 1999 (7 killed); Atlanta, GA in 1999 (9 killed); Columbine, CO in 1999 (12 killed); Springfield, OR in 1998 (4 killed); Jonesboro, AK in 1998 (5 killed); Killen, TX in 1991 (23 killed); and Jacksonville, FL in 1990 (10 killed).

    I will not deny that when such events occur in Europe that the number of dead is greater and I will not deny that gun ownership by the general public, or lack thereof, may well be the reason. However, it just seems that the rate at which such events occur in the US is far higher.

    Finally, I understand your premise that gun safety courses help the general public handle guns but I worry as to how someone might react in a combact situation as opposed to the calm of a classroom.

    I look foward to receiving your reply. As I stated at the outset, I have found this discussion and your comments very interesting. I do not intend to try to persuade you that my reasoning is correct. Rather I intend to explain why I believe the way I do and likewise, I have enjoyed learning why you believe the way you do.

    At the end of the day, I think we both agree that there is too much crime. Where is disagree is how the problem of too much crime should be addressed.

    Comment by Edge — 12 January 2011 @ 12:00

  4. @Edge: your list is made to appear impressive, but it fails to take into account that the population of the US is roughly five times that of the UK.

    Comment by Sterling Camden — 12 January 2011 @ 12:23

  5. Based on every study that I seen, the number of deaths a result of crime (which you can define any way you want: homicide, murder, manslaughter, self-defense etc.) all indicate that the per capita number of deaths a result of crime (which for the purposes of this post I will define as murder) is higher in the US than the UK.

    . . . which proves nothing about the relationship between the availability of firearms and the rate of crime. Once again, I have to hand out an F at the end of the semester to someone who completely missed the point of Statistics 101.

    Just for shits and giggles, though, in the US in 2009, the CDC reports the following intentional/violent injury rates:

    1. 1,252,175 Other Assault Struck By/Against
    2. 209,977 Self-harm Poisoning
    3. 103,369 Other Assault Cut/Pierce
    4. 81,452 Self-harm Cut/Pierce
    5. 63,096 Sexual Assault All Injury Causes
    6. 56,747 Self-harm Other Specified
    7. 51,537 Legal Int. Struck By/Against
    8. 44,377 Other Assault Firearm Gunshot
    9. 38,652 Other Assault Other Bite/Sting
    10. 12,119 Other Assault Fall

    Then, of course, there’s the fact that your basis for comparison of “murder” rates doesn’t even take into account real murder rates. It’s an “intentional homicide” rate, which includes suicide, legal intervention (like number 7 on the injury list above), and self-defense — and does not specify solely firearms deaths.

    I’ve made such comments already, though. You have had plenty of opportunity to see them above, and to read (and grasp the basic concepts of) the Statistics 101 entry at the top of the page that spawned all this discussion. You have failed to do so. You have failed to address such concerns over your inexpert, loose-as-hell misuse of statistics you do not even understand (obviously, since you can’t tell the difference between “murder” and “intentional homicide”), and you have failed to even reach the same basic conclusions as noted left-leaning humorous political commentator Jon Stewart, who has recently emerged as a voice of reason while idiots like you who probably idolize the guy pull the complete opposite approach to “reason”.

    Another item you seem to overlook in your general analysis is that the vast majority of murder is not premeditated and planned.

    I “overlook it” because it’s not relevant to my point. My point is that what you think proves some preconceived notion of yours doesn’t prove any such thing — because you don’t know how to isolate variables to arrive at reasonable conclusions and, in this case, there’s no reasonable way to isolate those variables.

    The opportunity to kill someone and the degree to which violent crime can escalate into murder is far greater when guns are present.

    The opportunity to defend yourself and the degree to which your defense can be effective is far greater when you have a gun.

    Two statements, both equally subject to plausible believability. Neither proves anything about public safety at large.

    If we compare such massacres in the US and the UK, I can only think of three in the UK in the last 25 years:

    Let’s look closer at your examples, using your numbers, without even bothering to check on their accuracy or whether you conveniently left out some important incidents:

    1. The US examples average 9.7 dead, and the UK examples average 15 dead, making UK rampage massacres more deadly on average than US rampage massacres. That’s even including an obvious statistical outlier (the VA Tech massacre) in the US.

    2. As Sterling pointed out, the US has roughly five times as many people as the UK. That means that if we take the US population as the basis of comparison, a total death toll comparison requires multiplying the UK death toll by five, resulting in a final score of 214 US vs. 225 UK. The UK gets more total rampage massacre deaths per capita than the US using your numbers.

    3. The majority of rampage massacre killings in the US in the last 25 years had death tolls under 10. All your examples in the UK had death tolls over 10. This is beginning to look like a trend.

    4. Despite the fact that actually analyzing the numbers — rather than showing that one list is longer than the other — makes it look like the UK is the worse place to live for purposes of avoiding dying in a rampage massacre, using your numbers, I stand by my original statements: the world is too complicated to honestly come to such facile conclusions. You’re bending statistics to your own ends, confirming your own biases, rather than looking at the facts available and coming to the obvious and intellectually honest conclusion that we simply can’t come to meaningful conclusions of proof based on such simplistic comparisons of a couple of simple data points cherry-picked out of millions.

    5. Oh, yeah — and these sample sizes in your numbers are laughably small. There are not enough rampage massacres to come to any reliable conclusions about them, let alone about their relationship to gun control laws — which have fluctuated and changed over those 25 years anyway, thus altering the conditions you’re trying to compare from one massacre to the next.

    You know (almost) nothing about the proper use of statistics to produce meaningful conclusions, or you intentionally abuse statistics. One of the two is the case. Once again, my decision to issue you an F in Statistics 101 is proved to be a good one.

    Finally, I understand your premise that gun safety courses help the general public handle guns but I worry as to how someone might react in a combact situation as opposed to the calm of a classroom.

    I worry about that too. I also worry about the likelihood of a rampage killer to miss a target, or to have the opportunity to kill me because I’ve been prevented from carrying a firearm for self-defense, or the likelihood of a mugger to kill my SigO because he’s bigger and stronger than her and she’s somewhere that she isn’t allowed to carry a firearm for self defense.

    I have two main points here:

    1. You should learn something about statistics before you try to use them to prop up your preconceived notions.

    2. You basically argue that my SigO should be unable to defend herself against a larger, stronger assailant so she can be raped and murdered.

    Fuck you.

    Rather I intend to explain why I believe the way I do and likewise, I have enjoyed learning why you believe the way you do.

    See that “fuck you” up there? That’s why I believe the way I do. I have a right to defend myself, and other people I care about have a right to defend themselves. People who try to prohibit us from having the tools to defend ourselves are infringing on that right, and as far as I’m concerned they can go to Hell.

    I do try to convince them to stop being idiots from time to time, but frankly, I believe that such people — you included — will continue to encourage government to infringe on our rights and take from us the ability to effectively defend ourselves, regardless of reason, logic, and incredibly simple lessons in how to evaluate evidence. It’s bound to happen, because people are more interested in adhering to their preconceived notions than they are in arriving at reasonable conclusions or even withholding judgment until such reasonable conclusions are possible.

    The truth is that while I believe public safety is enhanced in the aggregate by the availability of small arms to private citizens, I withhold ultimate judgment on that because there is simply not enough proof.

    Every time some jackass ignores the importance of taking such a cautious approach to arriving at facile conclusions, God kills a kitten — or maybe an innocent victim unable to defend himself or herself from a more physically capable assailant who cares nothing about what tools he or she is allowed by law to use in the commission of a crime.

    Comment by apotheon — 12 January 2011 @ 01:45

  6. For someone who claims to be an expert on statistics your general fear of and inability to draw logical interpretations from statistics is truly remarkable.

    Perhaps much of this stems from your misunderstanding of some of the general terms we are trying to compare. Intentional homicide does not include suicide. The legal definition of homicide is the killing of a human being as a result of the act or omission of another. Last time I checked, suicide involved killing oneself. Your claims that suicide (murder suicide is a different beast) should be considered in interpresting murder or homicide statistics brings into quesiton your credibility on this issue.

    To break things down very clearly for you, here are some statistics:

    1. According to the FBI Crime statistics, in 2009, the number of murder victims as a result of firearms offences, was 9,146. This number excludes justifiable homicide.

    2. According to the Home Office, the number of homicides (murder, manslaughter, and infanticide) in England and Wales in 2009, was 648. The number of homicdes in Scotland in 2009, based on the same criteria, was 99 and the number of homicides in Northern Ireland in 2009, again based on the same criteria, was 22. This bring the total number of homicides in the UK in 2009 to 769.

    Based on our assumption that the US has a population of 300,000,000 which is five time more than the UK’s population of 60,000,000, if we multiply 769 by 5, the number of homicides in the UK based on a population equal to that in the US is 3,845.

    What this means is that you are still 3 times more likely to get murdered by a gun in the US than you are to be a victim of all forms of homicide in the UK.

    I understant that there are a number of factors that influence crime statistics but to ignore the influence of gun is truly ridiculous. I posit to you that the major reason these number are so disparate is because of guns. I have lived in both the US and the UK for considerable portions of my life. As I have previously stated the general presence of crime is largely equal in the US and the UK and socio-economically the countries are very similar. Yet the homicide rate between the two countries is extremely different. There is no factor that explains this difference more than guns.

    As I mentioned in my previous post, the number of victims of shooting massacres is negligible compared to the total number of shooting victims. I also conceded that the rate of death in such massacres is greater in the UK than the US. But what I was trying to demonstrate is that the prevalence of such massacres is greater in the US (22) than the UK (3). Again, I admit the sample size is very small but to deny that the prevalence of gun relates death is greater in the US than the UK is truly ridiculouis.

    Your general tone of anger in your last post is clear evidence to me that I have backed you into a corner and that you can see the holes your arguments. As with a disease such as cancer, my hope is that we can prevent the disease from occuring rather than treat it once it occurs. This is also my view on gun control.

    I have said all I need to say on this issue. I am happy to have been able to enlighten you, although I imagine you will continue to live in fear.

    Comment by Edge — 12 January 2011 @ 07:14

  7. For someone who pretends to have read anything on this page, your reading comprehension is pretty damned piss-poor.

    For someone who claims to be an expert on statistics

    Show me where I claimed to be an expert on statistics. I’m not an expert. I’m maybe competent. I’m just a fuckton more aware of the pitfalls of statistics than you evidently — and any honest statistician would agree with me.

    Intentional homicide does not include suicide.

    Actually, intentional homicide statistics often do include suicide, even when the reporting agency’s legal system does not define homicide as including suicide. By the same token, some countries report “crib death” as death from illness, others as death from unknown causes, some as general purpose “infant mortality”, others as a result of negligence, and still others not at all (in some cases because they just don’t report that statistic, and in others because they do not recognize “crib death” or equivalent terms as valid diagnoses).

    The legal definition of homicide is the killing of a human being as a result of the act or omission of another.

    Most legal definitions of homicide do not include “omission”, at least in the general case.

    Your claims that suicide (murder suicide is a different beast)

    Assisted suicide is still suicide, by the way — as well as homicide. Some jurisdictions actually count the death twice.

    Based on our assumption that the US has a population of 300,000,000 which is five time more than the UK’s population of 60,000,000

    You are aware you’re rounding down in the US and up in the UK — right? Just checking.

    What this means is that you are still 3 times more likely to get murdered by a gun in the US than you are to be a victim of all forms of homicide in the UK.

    I’m not. Maybe someone in a drug gang is, or someone likely to get raided by the police for living near someone in a drug gang, or for growing Japanese maples for that matter. Thanks for ignoring my fucking point again.

    I understant that there are a number of factors that influence crime statistics but to ignore the influence of gun is truly ridiculous.

    I don’t ignore it. I simply refuse to be an idiot about it, unlike you — because, you see, I also don’t ignore all those other factors and declare as a result that I know the relationship between guns and crime statistics is what accounts for the relationship between crime statistics in one country and the crime statistics in another. You, on the other hand, are doing just that.

    I posit to you that the major reason these number are so disparate is because of guns.

    I know you do. I posit to you it’s because reptilian aliens run the government in the UK, and their mind-control rays are able to more successfully suppress the population’s violent instincts than the CIA’s mind-control rays, which are not nearly as technologically advanced.

    . . . ’cause it’s almost just as well supported by the evidence, given that there’s far too much evidence that interferes in our ability to isolate variables to be able to arrive at this facile, fucking stupidly simplistic conclusions of yours.

    I have lived in both the US and the UK for considerable portions of my life.

    I’ve been all over the goddamned world, just about. I’ve seen how people live in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Tunisia, Mexico, Canada — fucktons of places. You know what I’ve seen?

    Life is complicated. You can’t boil crime statistics down to a single cause without labeling yourself as a simpleton in the eyes of people who know what the fuck they’re talking about.

    I suppose you think the rate of murder in Somalia is due to the presence of firearms, too.

    There is no factor that explains this difference more than guns.

    Prove it. Don’t just say it: prove it.

    You can’t, of course, but it might be fun watching you try.

    Do you even know anything about guns that you didn’t get from movies and television?

    As I mentioned in my previous post, the number of victims of shooting massacres is negligible compared to the total number of shooting victims.

    . . . and yet, you tried to use rampage massacres as “proof” that guns are the cause of homicide rates. Now you’re trying to cover your ass. Your intellectual dishonesty is rapidly reaching some pretty staggering proportions.

    But what I was trying to demonstrate is that the prevalence of such massacres is greater in the US (22) than the UK (3).

    Barring the fucking stupid, simpleminded analyses of the numbers from people like you, I’d rather have twenty-two massacres with 214 dead than three massacres with 225 dead. Idiot. You aren’t even willing to cop to the fact that your own numbers make the UK look more dangerous.

    Again, I admit the sample size is very small but to deny that the prevalence of gun relates death is greater in the US than the UK is truly ridiculouis.

    I was referring to your talk of rampage massacres when I offered those numbers — based on your own statistics.

    . . . but I don’t give a shit about whether the number of “gun related deaths” is higher in one than the other. I care about whether the total number of murders is higher, and the actual causes of those murders, regardless of the weapons used. I care about things like whether, in the US, banning legal private ownership of guns would result in two out of 300 murders being stopped but fifteen more taking their place. You, apparently, do not: you only care whether you can cherry pick a couple of numbers and use that to support your preconceived notions.

    Your general tone of anger in your last post is clear evidence to me that I have backed you into a corner and that you can see the holes your arguments.

    That’s funny, considering I was tearing BIG GAPING FUCKING HOLES in your arguments, while you keep basically blowing off mine without actually even bothering to deconstruct them or, in some cases, notice I made them.

    I’m angry because fuckwads like you insist on being intellectually dishonest, then accuse others of the same because they simply don’t agree that you have all the answers. Hypocrisy pisses me off. Your willful ignorance is offensive. In fact, willful ignorance is one of my biggest pet peeves, which is pretty sad considering how much of it there is in the world.

    As with a disease such as cancer, my hope is that we can prevent the disease from occuring rather than treat it once it occurs.

    To do that, you have to address why people kill each other — not the specific shape of the hunk of metal used to do it.

    I am happy to have been able to enlighten you, although I imagine you will continue to live in fear.

    Yes, I live in fear of the effect willfully ignorant clods have on the world when they’re allowed to vote. Voting while intentionally closing your mind to the blatantly obvious should be a punishable offense, and I fear the damage fuckwads like you are going to do to the human race.

    Comment by apotheon — 12 January 2011 @ 08:04

  8. Oh dear … your arguments really are falling apart.

    I really don’t know what crib death has to do with a discussion of firearm offences and intentional homicide rates. You seem to be throwing up smokescreens to avoid confronting the comparisons I am making. I provided statistics from the FBI regading murder victims as a result of firearm offenses in the US and victims of all forms of homicide in the UK. For some reason, you have retorted with hyperbole regarding suicide, crib death, and the terminology used by many reporting agencies in other countries. I am talking about the US and the UK, I thought that was what this thread was about, and comparing statistics that exclude suicide and crib death, as all conventional definitions of murder and homicide do. Please try to stay focussed!

    You also seem obsessed with de minimis issues. Contrary to your assertions, I in fact round down both the population in the US and the UK for ease of comparison. According to the US Census Bureau, the population in the US in 2009 was 307 million. According the World Bank,the population in the UK in 2009 was 61.8 million. Based on these numbers, and the crime numbers I used were from 2009, I am actually being favorable to the US as the US population is 4.96 times that of the UK rather than 5 times as I used in my calculations. Again, this is such a de minimis differnces that I am really not too concerned. Feel free to run the exact numbers, they really don’t change much. Again, more smokescreens from you to avoid the obvious.

    Your next big issue is that keep dismissing the difference in the rates I cited to gangs. Well lets take a look at that. According to the FBI in 2009, of the 9,146 murders in the US as a result of fireamrs, 824 are attributable to gang killings. Even if we attribute the 3,449 firearms murders in 2009 that the FBI terms as unknown to gang killings we are still left with 4,873 firearms murders which is still more than all homicides in the UK (murder, manslaughter, and infanticide)on a population adjusted basis. I have been very favorable to the US in this comparison and as you can see, your attempts to appportion the difference to gang killings is simply incorrect.

    Further, your reference to Somalia and in prior posts to countries other than the US and the UK shows a complete lack of integrity. I belive we both agree that because there are so many variables that factor into this analysis, we need to compare countries that are as similar as possible in order to isolate the extent possible many of these variable. As I have discussed ad nauseum, the US and the UK provide such an opportunity. Yes, there are still differences but the socio-economic situations in both countries is quite similar. If it makes you feel better to compare the US to Somalia, a country that has been in a state of almost complete lawlessness for the last 50 years then go ahead. But those of us in the gun control crowd hold ourselves to a much higher standard and expect better of this country than to be pleased that crime here is less than in Somalia. I have attemped to as “intellectually honest” as possible by sticking to the comparison of the US and the UK, you are the one who keeps interjecting with comparisons from other countries.

    As far as my claim that no factor explains the differnce between murder/homicide rates more than guns do I have provided ample statistical evidence for that conclusion. Your keep referencing a list of other factors, which so far seems only to include gangs, but fails to provide any statistical evidence to back up your conclusions. Your debate tactics seems to get angry and use course language, rather than to actually articulate reasoned hypothesis. So I ask you, how do you explain the statistical differences? I am very curious. You are accusing me of being willfully ignorant, so here I ask you with all sincerity to educate me on what factors you think account for such differences.

    I agree that what we ultimately need to do is address why people kill each other. But until we solve that problem don’t you think it makes sense to limit access to the most common medium in the US with which people kill each other? The reason the armed forces use firearms as their weapon of choice is because firearms are the most effective at killing and maiming.

    Finally, I find your increasing level of anger as tantamount to an admission on your part that your arguments are falling apart, or rather have fallen apart. I have attempted to address our differences of opinion in a civil manner, you for some reason are unable to return the same courtesy. I understand that you be may be frustrated that I am missing some of the points you are making but I have always been taught that communication is a two way street. Have you ever stopped to wonder that perhaps the arguments you are making really aren’t that clear?

    Comment by Edge — 13 January 2011 @ 02:22

  9. I really don’t know what crib death has to do with a discussion of firearm offences and intentional homicide rates.

    Your inability to recognize an analogy when it bites you on the ass is your problem — not mine.

    I provided statistics from the FBI regading murder victims as a result of firearm offenses in the US and victims of all forms of homicide in the UK.

    . . . and ignored my main point, which renders that presentation of statistics irrelevant, again.

    For some reason, you have retorted with hyperbole regarding suicide, crib death, and the terminology used by many reporting agencies in other countries.

    If you cannot recognize the importance to meaningful statistical analysis of incompatible reporting terminology, there’s zero hope for you ever understanding my point.

    I am talking about the US and the UK, I thought that was what this thread was about

    Once again, you display your willful ignorance. Read the SOB entry at the top of this page, titled Statistics 101: US Gun Crime vs. UK Knife Crime. Pay particular attention to the second-to-last paragraph, which sums up the whole point: “here are too many other variables in comparisons between crime rates in the UK and in the US to reasonably expect any real certainty about exactly what effect gun control laws have in either country.” It’s also worth noting that the same paragraph says “A far more reliable statistical comparison [than comparing different countries is] to compare crime statistics before the passage or repeal of a gun law to those after the passage of the law”, which is something I notice you seem inclined to avoid like the plague — given it would be as fatal as the plague to your feeling of unassailable superiority in defending your preconceived notions with cherry-picked data points.

    My actual use of statistics in Statistics 101 was, it should be blatantly obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together, solely for the purpose of pointing out that insufficient evidence can be manipulated to support just about any end you like — which is exactly what you do with insufficient evidence, over and over again.

    According to the US Census Bureau, the population in the US in 2009 was 307 million. According the World Bank,the population in the UK in 2009 was 61.8 million.

    Criminy. Everything I said about getting statistics from different sources that count things differently just went right over your head.

    . . . and last I checked, the US population has been around 311 million for a while.

    Again, this is such a de minimis differnces that I am really not too concerned.

    Nickels and dimes add up.

    According to the FBI in 2009, of the 9,146 murders in the US as a result of fireamrs, 824 are attributable to gang killings.

    Those are unlikely figures. I’m thinking you misread them, the FBI misreported them, or they’re more narrowly constrained than how you represent them. Around 50% of crime in Los Angeles alone is gang related. In any case, I think the FBI’s gang statistics generally discount international drug gangs that operate within the US.

    . . . to say nothing of the fact that “murders” are not the sum total of drug-related intentional homicides. You’re forgetting about other things like legal intervention. Compare like figures; that’s your first goal if you want honest comparisons. The second is to isolate variables. You have yet to demonstrate you can do the first, and the second is essentially impossible given the fact you want to compare the UK and the US.

    your attempts to appportion the difference to gang killings is simply incorrect.

    Your attempts to read what I have said result in failure. I did not attempt to “apportion the difference to gang killings”. Read more closely. Don’t be an ass-weasel.

    Further, your reference to Somalia and in prior posts to countries other than the US and the UK shows a complete lack of integrity.

    Your unwillingness to engage in honest discussion shows a complete lack of integrity. You’ve misapplied what I said about Somalia, then claimed the misapplication is my fault. Fuck off.

    I belive we both agree that because there are so many variables that factor into this analysis, we need to compare countries that are as similar as possible in order to isolate the extent possible many of these variable.

    No, we don’t. You’re an idiot. I believe that because no two countries are sufficiently similar to meaningfully isolate variables, we should not make such facile, asinine comparisons. You believe that because the UK vs. US comparison supports your position at first glance, using the numbers you selected, we should limit our comparisons to US vs. UK. Clearly, we do not agree.

    Yes, there are still differences but the socio-economic situations in both countries is quite similar.

    Bullshit. The entire legal culture is substantially different, starting with “innocent until proven guilty” and snowballing from there. Even bleatings about common law do not change that, given that many US jurisdictions aren’t even common law jurisdictions.

    The truth of the matter is that the US is actually not one country; it is fifty of them, tied together by something administratively akin to the EU charter. You’re going to have to pick a specific state as your point of comparison if you want to get closer to a worthwhile comparison — but even that will be significantly off-base, given that the cultural, legal, and geographic differences between the US and the UK become even more visible when looking at specific states than when looking at the whole union.

    If it makes you feel better to compare the US to Somalia, a country that has been in a state of almost complete lawlessness for the last 50 years then go ahead.

    Remember when I said you misapplied my mention of Somalia? There’s a great example. Moron.

    But those of us in the gun control crowd hold ourselves to a much higher standard and expect better of this country than to be pleased that crime here is less than in Somalia.

    It’s great that you hold yourself to a much higher standard than your own straw man. Too bad it’s a lower standard than mine, or that of an honestly diligent statistician (which is even higher than mine).

    I have attemped to as “intellectually honest” as possible by sticking to the comparison of the US and the UK, you are the one who keeps interjecting with comparisons from other countries.

    If you bothered to read what I wrote, you’d realize I brought up other countries to point out how comparing different countries is not productive. Moron.

    Your keep referencing a list of other factors, which so far seems only to include gangs,

    That’s because you can’t read, or hold more than one idea in your head at a time, apparently.

    Your debate tactics seems to get angry and use course language, rather than to actually articulate reasoned hypothesis.

    I’ve rephrased the same thesis probably a couple dozen times on this page alone. The fact you’re incapable of understanding basic English is a problem of your reading comprehension, and not my willingness to articulate my “hypothesis”.

    So I ask you, how do you explain the statistical differences?

    I explain them by saying “They’re too fraught with additional factors that influence the results to come to meaningful conclusions based on those simplistic selections of numbers.” In short, I don’t have to explain them, because my point is that they’re essentially unexplainable in any way supported by honestly applied hard evidence.

    I’ve already pointed this out many times, though. I don’t expect you to get your head out of your ass now any more than you did the last [however many] times.

    You are accusing me of being willfully ignorant, so here I ask you with all sincerity to educate me on what factors you think account for such differences.

    Learn to read. That’s the first step.

    I agree that what we ultimately need to do is address why people kill each other.

    Nah. Your belief is that people kill each other because they have guns. You don’t agree with me at all.

    don’t you think it makes sense to limit access to the most common medium in the US with which people kill each other?

    Not if it might conceivably result in my death, I sure as shit don’t. Asshole.

    The reason the armed forces use firearms as their weapon of choice is because firearms are the most effective at killing and maiming.

    You obviously haven’t ever been in the military.

    Finally, I find your increasing level of anger as tantamount to an admission on your part that your arguments are falling apart

    I know you think so. I think that’s because you think you’re some kind of Internet psychologist, and because you don’t want to admit to yourself that my distaste for you is based entirely on your unwillingness to engage in meaningful discussion, resorting to mere hypocritical trolling instead.

    you for some reason are unable to return the same courtesy.

    I’m perfectly able. I just stopped trying when it became obvious you would rather be “right” in your own mind than actually acknowledge my arguments in a straightforward, honest manner.

    I understand that you be may be frustrated that I am missing some of the points you are making

    Almost all of them, actually.

    I have always been taught that communication is a two way street. Have you ever stopped to wonder that perhaps the arguments you are making really aren’t that clear?

    I have stopped to wonder that. Oddly, the fact that about 50% of the people who read my arguments get it, and the other half are people exactly like you in that they refuse to consider anything beyond the ridiculous belief that the UK and US are functionally identical aside from crime rates as reported on specific, carefully selected sites — and only specific, carefully selected statistics from those sites — and, of course, gun laws.

    You don’t understand my arguments because you don’t want to. That, or you’re stupider than I thought.

    Comment by apotheon — 13 January 2011 @ 06:50

  10. text blocked from HTML display for trolling

    Comment by Edge — 14 January 2011 @ 09:07

  11. We have included mass shootings in this debate, but missing is the inclusion of mass bombings as a substitute for guns. The U.K. historically has been rife with bomb attacks versus the U.S. which until the Oklahoma bombing remained relatively bomb-free. There were the occasional anomalies like the Unabomber, but generally bombs have not been the choice of criminals as they have been in the U.K. Simply put, if we use the term “mass killings” versus “mass shootings” the numbers might take a strange turn. Naturally there are those here who will want to include 9/11, but that would only account for one incident vs the numerous in the U.K. and Europe for that matter.

    As always, an interesting subject. I tend to lean to the freedom of choice argument myself. The U.K. has always had a paternalistic and Lordly streak of condescension toward its public and in the absence of a binding constitution there was nothing stopping them from trodding on democratic rights.

    It might seem like common sense where a bar brawl breaks out that damage would be less without guns. However, fewer brawls happen when people know there are going to be guns involved. Can you imagine how long English soccer hoodlums would last throwing projectiles at a U.S. hockey game? Riots rarely happen because you might get shot dead, forever.

    In fact, incidents of terrorist groups in the U.S. are exceptionally rare, and religiously motivated radicals keep a low profile, ever fearful of uncompromisingly nationalist Americans who are armed and ready to back authorities against any threat. Though many would desperately beg to differ, these patriots are in fact the arms-bearing militia guaranteed by the U.S. constitution.

    In contrast, the British government was ever fearful of the old Home Guard it created to defend the country against a German invasion. It’s an interesting cultural difference. But I digress. We were talking about gun vs knife statistics. I prefer the right to own a gun for home defence. To me that’s just reasonable common sense.

    Comment by Bullseye — 15 January 2011 @ 09:57

  12. This is very misleading. Really you should add up all the knife crime and gun crime in the UK and the US to see if gun crime is having an added effect. Correlation between two different crimes does not equal causality.

    Comment by Ryan — 5 February 2011 @ 08:13

  13. Ryan:

    It’s only “misleading” if you expect it to lead somewhere other than it does. As an end result, you mislead yourself, and completely miss the point.

    Good job.

    I’m tired of explaining the point over and over again for people who have not read carefully enough.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 February 2011 @ 09:59

  14. FURTHER COMMENTS DISALLOWED

    I’m tired of responding to trolls who don’t even bother trying to understand the entry at the top of the page, let alone read any of the comments that address the exact same failures to understand over and over again. I’m disallowing comments on this SOB entry henceforth.

    113 is enough.

    Comment by apotheon — 2 March 2011 @ 01:59

  15. […] Knives must be limited, you see, because Once we get rid of the guns, knife murders will increase. […]

    Pingback by Knife Control | Bobknowsall — 29 May 2011 @ 05:11

  16. […] remind you Mr. Younge that YOU are more than twice as likely to be a victim of knife crime in the UK as you are to be a victim of gun crime in the […]

    Pingback by The Dark Hysterical Liberal Rises « Kristina in Americaland — 20 July 2012 @ 01:42

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All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License