Thursday, March 28, 2013

Comparing England (or UK) murder rates with the US: More complex than you thought

Thoughts on the Gun Debate part 4a -- wherein I fix my oopsie in regard to comparing US and English murder rates... Oooops. It turns out that I was wrong.

This post edited after comments were reviewed on 3/29/2013.  Edits from that date will be noted with an Edit tag. 

First, lets get this out of the way.  I'm not going to fuss here about the terms "England", "The U.K", "Great Britain", "The Olde Country" or "The folks with those classy accents who live on some islands off the coast of Europe."  I'll be careful to cite things in the links, but don't chew me up on where I'm talking about.

On to the oopsie. I have frequently in this series referred to the English murder rates as historically low and currently very low compared to US murder rates.  I blandly accepted the murder statistics published by the UK Home Office as definitive.  I overlooked the details of what and how the English counted "murders." It turns out that was a big mistake.  (I was first turned onto my error by this post at Extrano's Alley.)

I fell into a definitions trap you may not be aware of. The shortest version is this. We count and report crimes based on initial data. The Brits count and report crimes based on the outcome of the investigation and trial. Yep, that says what I meant it to say.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Thoughts on the gun debate part 4

So, quick re-cap. We know from the last several posts that banning handguns in England did nothing to effect the English murder rate, that the murder rate in the US has fallen since around 1990, that the suicide rate hasn't surged, and that in nations with strict gun control suicides still happen, sometimes at even higher rates than the US.

The other question that seems reasonable is about who has guns, where they are found and how they are used.  Specifically, I'm talking about concealed carry license holders.  Different states have different rules about concealed carry ranging from Vermont's "We don't need no stinking rules" to Hawaii's "We have the ability to issue a license, but that doesn't mean we're going to do it."

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Thoughts on the gun debate part 3

In the last rock, we looked at the murder rate in England after the gun bad following Dunblaine, and came up with "basically no effect."

That is to say, after the handgun ban went into effect in England, in January of '97, from then until 2003, the homicide rate went up from 11.5 per million to 18 per million.  I.E., in the six years following the handgun ban, the murder rate in England went up by 1.5.  Meanwhile, in the U.S, from 1990 to 2003, the murder rate fell from 9.8 to 5.5 per 100,000, despite the fact that during that time the number of handguns in the U.S. rose by more than 2 million.

From 2003 to 2011, the murder rate in England fell from 18 per M back to the 11.5 per M that it was at the time of the ban.   Meanwhile from 2003 to 2011 the murder rate in the US decreased at a slower rate, from 5.5 to 4.8 per 100K despite millions more guns making their way into the US population.

This suggests that at the very least, handguns don't by themselves drive the murder rate.