We don’t need no stinking facts

I sometimes wonder if people who get published in newspapers believe what they write or if they are actually this sloppy with the facts:

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence estimates that each year, 100,000 people in this country are killed by firearms. Spend an hour on the organization’s Web site, and you can watch the day’s total tick unnervingly up.

The writer is confusing injuries with deaths and doesn’t seem to care how many of those were justified, or even praiseworthy, shootings.

Yet recent studies suggest that, far from protecting people who keep them, guns increase the odds that their owners or innocent bystanders will be harmed.

That was pulled out of thin air. Unless “recent” means going back to the discredited 1986 Kellerman study or one of the highly questionable follow on studies.

The U.S. has, far and away, the highest homicide rate of any affluent democracy, and guns are the method of choice.

Historian Jill Lepore notes that in Europe, the annual murder rate is well below 2 per 100,000 people; here it is around five.

This ignores the murder of 10s of millions by their own governments during the 1930s and 1940s. It also ignores the significantly higher gun ownership rate in Switzerland compared to their neighbors while having a murder rate of about 0.7/100K. The same is true of Norway with a murder rate of 0.6/100K.

The murder rates per 100K in some other countries in Europe and nearby (from here) include:

  • Germany: 0.86
  • Spain: 0.9
  • Denmark: 1.01
  • Greece: 1.1
  • Ireland: 1.12
  • Italy: 1.2
  • Poland: 1.2
  • Portugal: 1.2
  • United Kingdom: 1.28
  • Hungary: 1.38
  • France: 1.4
  • Belgium: 1.49
  • Luxembourg: 1.5
  • Czech Republic: 2.0
  • Georgia 7.6
  • Russia 14.9

All of those are greater than Switzerland and Norway so to blame it on gun ownership laws is deceptive at best.

Either the facts are irrelevant to these people or they know they have to lie to have any chance of winning.


12 thoughts on “We don’t need no stinking facts

  1. Another thing these idiots seem to do is confuse correlation with causation. We have higher gun ownership, but we also have a higher percentage of blacks than many of those countries. Can we blame blacks?

    We also are much larger than most of those European countries….combined. Our problem with violence isn’t because of guns, but a complex system of cultures, black markets, and negative feedback mechanisms put in place by our own government.

    These gun banners sure do love to pretend that guns are a {oh, the delicious irony!} silver bullet to the cause of violence. If we’d just get rid of guns, there would be nothing but sunshine and Unicorn farts (they smell like jasmine!) and Jamal would not kill Paco over his stash of cocaine.

  2. If we just tracked our crime stats the way the UK does we would be in GREAT shape.

    In the UK a murder is only classified as a murder if someone is CONVICTED of murder.

    That is one of the reasons they have a low “murder” rate.

  3. European homicide rates and numbers have been very heavily “massaged” to make them appear to be just a fraction of the actual number. England, for example, does not count a homicide until someone has been tried, convicted, and all appeals have been exhausted. Meaning the homicide rate is primarily determined by the percentage of homicides “solved by indictment” some years ago, and the appeals court’s annual output; not by how many deaths by violence during a given year are “matters of interest to the police.”

    Of course, no European country wants to be outdone by those barbarian “bifeaters,” so the reported rates are far lower than the actual rate. The means each country uses to minimize its homicide rate vary widely. That means you cannot trust self congratulatory official press releases but must go other routes to get even an approximation of the facts. From those indirect routes, it appears España had at least 2,800 homicides during 2008, for a rate of approximately 6 per 100,000 population.

    Bottom line? Regard all official homicide rates with extreme caution. They are probably wrong.



  4. This is exactly why we are continuously winning because the honest facts line up ALL on our side. When you remove emotion and lies all that is left is the truth. We keep telling the truth and reinforcing that with facts, we are winning. Brady and all the rest are on the decline. We need to keep the honesty pressure going and take opportunity to tell an audience when we can.

  5. To put it this way: Of the 10,000 homicides in the US roughly 50% go through to a conviction (this is based on the clearance rate for the State of California which I assume to be a good reference for the US as a whole). Of those that go through a conviction, some are for murder and some are for manslaughter. If bias the murder to 4 out of 5 cases, that means the US only has a murder rate of 4,000 out of 300 million, which would put us completely on par with all the other “industrialized nations”.

    That we count ALL our violent deaths based on someone dieing, not on someone being convicted, puts us at a propaganda disadvantage. Even our justifiable homicides get included.

  6. Joe, I agree there’s no excuse for confusing the injuries number with the deaths one. I would imagine it was out of ignorance rather than malice, but who knows.

    I don’t believe Kellerman has been completely discredited, except in your mind because that’s what you want, and I don’t think he’s the only one coming up with the same conclusions, that guns do more harm than good. Naturally you want to sweep all of that aside.

    You so often say the other side lies, well Joe, that may be true but you’re pretty good at it yourself. You keep inferring that we say guns are the only factor. As far as I know, no one says that. Guns are one of a number of factors in violent crime about which something can and should and I dare say will be done.

    So keep telling us about Nazi Germany 80 years ago and about all the guns in Switzerland and Finland, and any other misleading crap you can invent. It doesn’t change anything.

  7. Switzerland’s gun laws and social system are so vastly different from the USA’s that I wonder why gunnies continually bring them up?

    I worked for a Swiss company and I’m very familiar with Swiss gun laws. If our gun laws were like the Swiss gun laws, I would have no problem with everybody being armed. BUT OUR LAWS AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE ARE NOT LIKE THEIRS!!!!

    I would love to see everybody joining the army and training EVERY YEAR. I would love to see us paying less taxes because every eligible person in the USA is in the Army! I think that would be FANTASTIC!!!!!!! WE DON’T HAVE THAT SYSTEM!!!! When we do, I’ll be the first one to stand in line and say “Yes, I totally support the 2nd Amendment for everyone!”

  8. Joe,

    Why are there no Asian countries on your list? South Korea? Japan? China? Singapore? Thailand? India?


    Some of those injuries are “life-changing” injuries. Look at Jim Brady. He’ll never be the same.

  9. The reason why we keep saying the antis focus only on guns, is, well, ITS THE ONLY THING WE HEAR FROM YOU! We don’t hear anything else about welfare, social services, economic reforms, etc…

    Ubu – how about a system that allows you to extend your permit by a year every time you train with the state police or with a recognized private training company, with the costs of the training class being tax deductible?

  10. VPC/Brady have a long history of making up stuff, misrepresenting “facts” and intentionally misleading people. As for ubu, I find it fascinating that it takes so many all caps to express how fantastic Switzerland is, but not actual factual statements at all.

    Not a single one.

  11. MikeB302000,

    I too suspect it was a mistake instead of malice. There are lot of people that equate “shot” with “killed”. I actually had a discussion with some people at work who sort of thought that too. I plan to write a blog post about it sometime.


    I only included European because that was what the original author was referring to. If you follow the link I gave you can find the Asian data. But as pointed out by others you do need to be careful with comparing data. I know that (at least it used to be this way 10 years ago, probably still is) the data from Japan was skewed by the definition of suicide. If a parent killed their spouse, children and themselves it was considered a family suicide and all the deaths were in the “suicide” category when we would considered it one suicide and “N – 1” murders where “N” is the number of people in the family.

    My point on Switzerland and Norway was not the laws but the number of firearms in private hands. Private ownership of firearms does not correlate well with increased murders as the author insisted. You may be correct that it is the set of laws regarding firearms ownership that makes the difference. To test that hypothesis we should look to see if any state and/or city in the U.S. has a similar set of laws and if that political jurisdiction experienced a decreased murder rate.

    Data, it’s all about the data.

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