gun control – the facts behind the ‘facts’ behind the ‘myths’
I’ve recently had a delightful journey into the world of gun facts. Just google ‘gun facts’, download the brochure and you’ll see what I mean. Pages and pages of ‘myths’ allegedly debunked by interestingly interpreted ‘facts’. I sincerely hope someone with more time on their hands than I have has done a comprehensive analysis of this document, demonstrating why few of the facts, if any, are relevant. I’ll take just a few of the first things that jumped out at me:
Interpreting the tables
the top 10 countries for homicide do not include the U.S.
Apparently this is something to be proud of, that out of the 196 countries in the world, the richest and most powerful one does not land in the top 10 for homicides. However, a few more meaningful things this handy fact disguises are:
1. In terms of homicide rate the USA sits above Palestine, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Montenegro, Niger, India and Argentina (to name but a few).
2. The USA homicide rate is four times or more the rate of the UK, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Germany (to name but a few).
3. The USA does, in fact, top the table of comparable, developed nations for homicide. I think I’m right in stating that this qualifies it as the Homicide Capital of the Developed World.
Everybody who has served in the army is allowed to keep their personal weapon
Apparently any country with high levels of gun ownership and lower levels of homicide is a valid example of why more guns lead to less deaths. Switzerland is the favourite (or only?) to wheel out. One very important fact about Switzerland:
1. As they have no standing army, they have a rather unique national militia. Around two thirds of the male population undergo military and weapons training as part of their conscripted national service. I fail to see how a country populated by trained military personnel who store there weapons at home is comparable with the situation in the USA, or indeed any other country.
… as of 2005, Scotland was the most violent country in the developed world …
Apparently rates of general violent assault are relevant when discussing gun control. So, countries with high levels of reported violent crime that have tough gun controls are used as examples of how gun control doesn’t work. Scotland is cited as one such country. A couple of things you should know about Scotland:
1. It has the eighth highest alcohol consumption rate in the world, and most of the violent assaults are connected with alcohol consumption and committed by a family member or another known person. I don’t want to challenge anyone’s powers of logic or understanding of human behaviour, but would it be wise to add guns to this mix?
2. Despite these serious problems, the overall homicide rate would have to triple to compete with the USA figures. Therefore, gun control in inherently drunken and violent society = fewer murders.
It’s baffling that people in a country with such a terrible record for homicide desperately look for arguments to support everyone’s right to possess deadly weapons. While poor Caribbean and Latin American countries struggle to make their gun controls work and beg the US to initiate some form of control to stop the easy and endless flood of firearms into their countries, US citizens blindly accept the misleading information pumped out by their $3 billion dollar industry and stubbornly cling to the notion that an 18th century declaration (for a country with no standing army and no police force, and in a time with rather different weapons) makes sense in today’s society.
No study has been able to demonstrate that having a gun makes you safer, so the question remains: why do these people want an easily accessible stockpile of deadly weapons in their homicide-riddled country?
Just love the information on Switzerland!!!
It’s rather surprising, isn’t it? I think it’s the only example country with high gun ownership levels and low crime/homicide levels, so it’s mentioned all the time by gun fanatics. But the Swiss situation is so far removed from the gun ownership attitude anywhere else that comparison makes no sense at all.
I am Scots. I am ashamed. You reveal incidentally that we have a much higher murder rate than England, too. I am so glad we are not shooting each other!
Yes, I’m Scottish too, which is why that claim on the first page immediately jumped out at me, and I had to check why it was the case. I think we do have a serious violence problem but I’m not sure it’s quite as bad, comparatively, as random data collected by telephone in one year would indicate. Still, it fills me with a sense of horror to imagine how much worse it would be if the gun ownership rate was higher!
For an honest, unbiased review of the facts, please read this study from Harvard:
Click to access Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf
Here’s the conclusion:
This Article has reviewed a significant amount of evidence
from a wide variety of international sources. Each individual
portion of evidence is subject to cavil—at the very least the
general objection that the persuasiveness of social scientific
evidence cannot remotely approach the persuasiveness of
conclusions in the physical sciences. Nevertheless, the bur‐
den of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal
more death and fewer guns equal less death mantra, espe‐
cially since they argue public policy ought to be based on
that mantra. To bear that burden would at the very least
require showing that a large number of nations with more
guns have more death and that nations that have imposed
stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions
in criminal violence (or suicide). But those correlations are
not observed when a large number of nations are compared
across the world.
Em, thanks Cranky for this ‘unbiased’ study by two self-confessed firearms enthusiasts, one of whom “is one of the foremost litigators, criminologists and scholars on the Second Amendment and the fundamental right to self-defense and the individual right to keep and bear arms in the country.” That’s a good start. Also, the Harvard School of Public Health gets it’s funding to publish articles on firearms issues from the Joyce Foundation, an organisation which supports the “development of legal strategies to defend existing gun laws”. [07/02 – please see comments below, Joyce Foundation also supports gun control groups]
There is NOTHING unbiased about this study.
Like most studies funded and written by gun enthusiasts, it is selective with the information it chooses to analyse, and, either deliberately or ignorantly, misses out pertinent background information. To take an example I haven’t already explained above or elsewhere: “Norway has far and away Western Europe’s highest household gun ownership rate (32%), but also its lowest murder rate” doesn’t inform the reader that almost all these guns are for hunting, it’s almost impossible to get hold of a gun for self-defence and there are strict controls on the calibre and number of guns that can be kept. Where does any of this relate to what’s happening in the USA?
If you want to take issue with any of the three facts in the post above, I would be most interested to hear what a gun enthusiast has to say about the Switzerland; Scotland; and the USA being the Homicide Capital of the Developed World.
I thought your premise was that guns are bad and dangerous and need to be banned in order to save lives. Is it all guns or just ones that are deemed (by people unfamiliar with the technology involved) as for self-defense? My AR is primarily for self-defense but is an excellent hunting rifle. Only for smaller game because it fires a relatively underpowered cartridge. My hunting rifle is my second choice for self defense. The only drawback is the cartridge is more powerful and would pose more of a risk to non-bad guys dur to over-penetration of exterior walls.
Please provide more support for the assertion that the Joyce Foundation is pro-gun. What I see on their site is that they are a supporter of the most anti-gun organization in the US. Mayors Against Illegal Guns as well as other anti-gun groups. Bloomberg, Kennedy, MCarthy, are all associated with this organization and among the most rabid anti-gun people in the US.
Form the little time I spent in and around academia, all publications like this are subject to peer review for accuracy and bias.
“is one of the foremost litigators, criminologists and scholars on the Second Amendment and the fundamental right to self-defense and the individual right to keep and bear arms in the country.” Doesn’t mean he is pro-gun. It means he is an expert. If you are going to attack this as a source, I want a little more basis…
Maybe you’re right but it sure doesn’t look that way to me. Show me.
Thanks, I should clarify my premise. Guns are very dangerous and the way in which they are used in the USA is causing an unnecessarily large number of deaths – both there and in other parts of the world. More controls are required.
So, I find it ridiculous that the gun lobby uses Norway or Switzerland to justify gun ownership in the USA. The cultural use of guns is not comparable: overwhelmingly hunting/sport or military versus imagined protection. The types of guns are different, the numbers are different. Furthermore, the fact remains that while these two isolated examples have high levels of gun ownership and low levels of deaths, the USA clearly does not. There is nothing to compare here.
I quoted directly from the Joyce Foundation Mission page on their website, which you can easily find. They are seeking ways to reduce gun violence by educating the public, but crucially aim to defend existing gun laws. If you can find anything that shows I’m wrong about the authors, please let me know – they have lots of information online. Here are some links to other peer-reviewed academic journals – your comments are welcome:
As usual, you haven’t responding to any of the facts. I’d be interested to hear what you have to say.
You attack the study I presented as biased. You do so by saying that one of the biggest anti-gun supporters in the country is pro-gun and that one of the persons conducting the study is biased because he is noted expert in the field.
There was no rebuttal to the fact that the Joyce foundation is openly and aggressively anti-gun but to state that you copied a quote from their web site. Here’s another quote from their web site: “the federal government must ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that allow shooters to fire dozens of bullets without stopping to reload.” Obama, openly anti-gun, was a board member until 2002. The press has referred to the Joyce foundation as the anti-NRA. You are right, they have an agenda and pay for studies that support that agenda. You cannot discredit a study with incorrect assertions like this.
You say that one of the people conducting the study was biased because he is considered an expert. Again, how does that do anything to discredit the study?
You state that country comparisons are invalid. To an extent you are correct but not in the way you believe. People point to other countries with lower murder rates and strong anti-gun laws and say, “see it works.” Ignoring the fact that those murder rates were similarly low even before the anti-gun laws were put in place and ignoring that, in many cases, gun crime has risen since enacting those laws. This study also looks at different regions within the US and different levels of violence within the same racial and socioeconomic groups looking for a correlation between gun ownership and violence, finding none.
You have not answered any this but I am avoiding the issue?
Help my poor little redneck mind understand how that is?
You stated that the study is ‘unbiased’. The authors are firearms enthusiasts who have made their careers supporting the right to bear arms Please let me know if there is information that contradicts this. From what I have read about both of them, they are far from being impartial, number crunching academics. They are biased experts, maybe. I am surprised to see that in spite of the clear statement I quoted from their Mission page, the Joyce Foundation does indeed give funding to gun control groups, and I’ll retract my reference to the source of funding being biased. However, I’m still at a loss to see your point about the authors being unbiased.
I share your frustration with the country comparisons. Individual cultures, practices and gun controls make most comparisons meaningless. There is a lot to be learned from the experiences of other countries, but each example has to be looked at individually. Every claim about specific countries I’ve looked into, by either you or the ‘gun facts’ people, has been misleading(e.g. Switzerland, Norway, the UK).
I’ll come back to you about the rest of the ‘unbiased’ study if I can find time to read it, but from what I’ve quickly ready, it uses the same misleading examples given above.
You attacked this validity of this study. One attack was proven false. No other details are provided for verification on the second attack (that these men are biased). Just your statements which have not proven very reliable on the subject of this study. You admit to not having even read it, yet you attack it and disagree with it. I have read and considered each of your posts and references before responding.
In another conversation, you mentioned the dangers of dehumanizing criminals and yet you use that tactic against “gun people” and “the gun lobby.”
I really am curious as to why you hate firearms and the people who own them? Have the legal gun owners in the US wronged you in some way? If saving lives, or the lives of children, was so important there are so many ways to have a greater impact (save more lives) with less effort and without affecting the right to self defense.
I really would like to know.
Okay, we’re going round in circles again, and you’re starting to sound upset. My quote from the Joyce Foundation is correct, it’s from their Mission Statement. I was unaware of the other information and have amended the initial post to reflect this. I don’t need to ‘prove’ these men are unbiased, it’s clear for anyone who wishes to read about them. One is an open gun enthusiast, the other has made his career fighting gun control. If you don’t think that makes them biased, that’s your opinion.
My interest in gun control stems from the common sense attitude that weapons designed to maim or kill should not be open access items. I don’t like misleading information being published in any area of discussion and, as stated, most of the ‘facts’ you and ‘gunfacts’ provide are misleading. I’m simply responding.
You still haven’t told me where it has been demonstrated that you and your family are safer because you have guns. And you haven’t commented on the studies I sent you links to, that clearly show you or your family are more likely to be killed or injured as a result of your gun ownership (presumably you have more time and inclination to read my links; I have skim-read the study you sent and responded to some of it but don’t have time to look it in detail).
One more thing. I’m interested that you see this as a conflict between ‘legal gun owners’ and the authorities. I’m sure guns are lots of fun for those who play with them, and I’m sure you believe that only the really powerful ones cut it for self-defense, but what’s the problem with drawing a line under what civilians realistically (even by a gun enthusiasts standards) need? Where would you personally like to see the line drawn in terms of weapons available to the general public?
In logical debates, if you make a statement you need to be able to back it up. You said the study is biased but provide no support for that other than your opinion and an erroneous statement about the goals of the organization you said paid for it.
If this study is biased I would really like to know.
I hate to seem like I am harping on this but every time we get to a point where there is no backing for a statement or attack you make we seem to slide into others and that is frustrating.
I’m sorry Cranky that you’ve been unable to successfully google them, so here are links to further information the ‘unbiased’ firearms enthusiast:
… and the ‘unbiased’ expert who has been writing books and articles against gun control since the 1970s:
Once more, it’s your opinion if you wish to continue viewing them as unbiased.
I understand how frustrating it is when you feel someone is moving the goalposts. I’ve tried not to do that because I found it frustrating that you didn’t respond to my comments about Switzerland and the UK and the studies I linked to showing people are more likely to be killed or injured if they have guns and the other news stories I send you details on. But I understand that we’re coming from completely different angles and seem to have completely different perspectives on what a ‘winning’ point is.
(by the way, in terms of ‘sliding into other points’ – my other comments were in direct response to your question to me and your statement about self-defense i.e. I personally slid nothing nowhere)
As far as “sliding” goes we are both guilty…
So, because Mauser “purchased his first firearm after moving to Canada and conducting research into firearm legislation” his findings are invalid?
Kates is a lawyer and owns a practice that specializes in firearms law. Again, I’m not seeing how this is bias.
I agree with your comment in another discussion on my site and I don’t think we’ll make more progress on this but it has been enlightening, challenging and mostly enjoyable.
I live in South Africa. Nuff said I reckon as far as crime goes. And things would be better without guns, that is a fact.
Guns are made to kill. If one is hunting deer one does not use a Taser. Killing is a gun’s primary function.
It is disingenuous to suggest that self-defense is the overriding motive to own a firearm.
Apologies, just found your comment in my spam folder. Thanks for your input, it’s great to get a perspective from another part of the world.
I tend to end up in spam a lot! My rep. precedes me it seems.
And yesterday, paraolmypic athlete Oscar Pistorious – the Blade Runner – was accused of murdering his girlfriend. Shot her four times.
Apparantly it is being claimed he thought she was an intruder…. WTF!
Yes, if only she had had a gun. You know, for self-defense …
Oh looky here! I just read Robert Nielson’s post on gun control and came back here to refresh my memory on what I know about guns. So you did watch the news at some point in your life.
Ironically I am reading Robert’s post in another window. Yes, I do catch the news now and then, but I don’t go out of my way to switch on CNN or open up the news on the Internet or whatever and usually if we are watching something before dinner and the news starts we switch it off.
I don’t run around with my head in the sand all the time, y’know, I just find it becomes a pain in the butt listening to the world go to pot every day.
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