So were Piers Morgan and Christiane Amanpour dishonest about crime rates last night?
CNN has made quite a habit of outrageous statements on gun issues. You can see previous interviews here, here, here, here, and here. From my appearance last night on CNN.
MORGAN: . . . How do you justify the claim more guns makes more safe people in America? I don’t — don’t get it.
LOTT: Every place that guns have been banned, murder rates have gone up. You cannot point to one place, whether it’s Chicago or whether it’s D.C. or whether it’s been England of whether it’s been Jamaica or Ireland.
MORGAN: I’m sorry, but that’s just a complete lie. It’s a complete lie. The gun murder rate in Britain is 35 a year, average. You need to stop repeating a blatant lie, about what happens in other countries. [cross talk] No, you’re not going to get away with this. You lied about it the other day. Thirty-five gun murders a year in Britain, eleven to twelve thousand in America. Stop lying, because what you say drives Americans to defend themselves.
After Morgan then claimed multiple times that I had lied, the video then shows that I tried to explain that there is a difference between levels and changes. In an obvious setup, Christiane Amanpour claimed that the murder rate in the UK had initially been flat after the ban and then fell.
Amanpour: After Dunblane, they put in these bans, they put in these punishments, fines, jail sentences, etc. and its true that straight afterwards there wasn’t a huge change, but 2002/2003 until 2011 the rate plummeted by 44%.
Morgan and Amanpour were clearly taking about the number of homicides so initially here is a chart for that (source here see Table 1.01 and the column marked “Number of offences currently recorded as homicide”). She is right that there were substantial increases in law enforcement activity (for the original data see here and here), which one suspects should have been associated with reduced crime rates, but, even with that, how can she make the claims that she did about homicides? (Note that it often takes a couple of years after a person becomes a police officer before they become very effective.)
Two clear points can be seen from the next two figures. First, after the ban, clearly homicide rates bounce around over time, but there is not one single year during the 15 years after the ban where the number of homicides is lower than it was immediately prior to the ban in 1996. By the way, the average yearly homicides from 1990 to 1996 was 601. For the time period after the ban started it was 707, an 18 percent increase. Second, the number of homicides remained higher than the immediate pre-ban rate despite a large increase in the number of police officers during 2003 and 2004.
If you look at the percent changes, the change from 1996 to 2003 was bigger than the drop since then. If she says that there is no “huge change” between 1996 and 2003, how can she say that there is a “plummet” after that (when it fell by 32%, not the claimed 44%)?
Note also that Morgan must have misspoken about the number of gun homicides a year. Indeed, at least since 1990, the average has been twice that high and has never even got as low as the average of 35 a year that he claimed. I think that total homicides are the most important concern, rather than how a homicide was committed, but if that is what some would rather focus on, it is still hard to see that even firearm homicides fell after the ban. The averages in the pre- and post-ban periods are virtually identical (61 pre-ban and 62 post-ban), and there are only two years that the number of firearm homicides fell below what the number was in 1996 (2009 and 2010).
Obviously, guns are involved in more than just homicides or murders. One thing that is clear has been the huge increase in gun crime generally in England and Wales since the gun ban (for similar discussions see here, here, and here). Firearm Offenses involving handguns, rifles and shotguns were falling from 1991 to 1997. At that point, they stopped falling and kept increasing until 2006. The number of firearm offenses in 2011 was still 16 percent higher than in 1996 and the average for 1997 to 2011 was 8,326 or 31 percent higher than in the 1990 to 1996 period.
I am more concerned about total murders than just firearm murders, but firearm murders have also risen after the ban. Indeed, there are only two years after the ban where the number of murders were below what it was before the ban. In 2011, there were 60 murders, up from 49 in 1996.
The discussion on CNN was supposed to be a Townhall where people from different views were in the audience. Instead the people that they brought in from Arizona and Wisconsin and other places were all on the same side. I asked the people in my section if anyone opposed increased gun control regulations and no one said that they did. Several shouted that they wanted to ban all semi-automatic guns.
So here are previous figures that I put together. These figures are from the third edition of More Guns, Less Crime from the University of Chicago Press (2010). Click to make the figures larger. The numbers for the UK are available here in Table 1.01 (see column marked “Offences currently recorded as homicide per million population”). There is only one year (2010) where the homicide rate is lower than it was in 1996.
The most recent violent crime data for England and Wales is available here and for the US here. One important thing to note first is that the rate that crimes are reported to police is much higher in the US than England and Wales, and that difference will make England and Wales look relatively better than they actually are. But still if one uses violent crimes reported to police, US in 2011 there were 1,203,564 and in England and Wales 821,957. The US doesn’t differentiate Violent crime with and without injuries, but in England and Wales 368,647 violent crimes involve injuries and 453,310 do not. Given that the US has about 314 million people and England and Wales 56 million people (a ratio of 5.6 to 1), 368,647*5.6 = 2,064,423, or still about 72 percent greater than the number for the US. I have often pointed to the International Crime Victimization Survey as a better comparison because it deals with the different rates that crimes are reported and it tries to make sure that crimes are defined the same way across countries. As expected, that measure makes England and Wales look even worse compared to the US.
Piers has a stake in the maintenance of UK’s high crime rate.
Piers has a stake in the maintenance of UK’s high crime rate.
The issue of violent crime rates not equating to firearm deaths should always be addressed.
In the last 27 years, I have used a firearm 3 times to protect myself from what would have been at a minimum a severe beating. In each of those instances I was outnumbered by larger individuals. I shot no one, and the police filed no report.
How many people are saved from being assaulted, simply because the perp knows there is a good chance of being shot during a break-in. In Europe, forced entry into occupied homes is common, and the perps aren’t just robbing the place.
Then there is the issue of what Statists do when they get in power. Bill Ayers wants to kill 30 million people, once he gets power, and we are all included. That alone is reason to stay well armed.
Of course Morgan lied. He’s a leftist. He’s milking his anti-gun garbage to keep his sorry show afloat.