Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gun Grabbers Making Up Statistics Again

I have been busy in other areas and have not had time lately to keep up on the news as closely as I did. However, a piece in yesterday's American Thinker entitled Cooking the Gun Homicide Numbers by Peter Wilson caught my eye.

Wilson makes the point that the article by Charles M. Blow in the New York Times is both inaccurate and disingenous.  Mr. Blow's article deliberately hides the truth behind irrelevant statistics for the sole purpose of supporting an agenda of gun control that is not justified by the actual numbers. Wilson doesn't mention that self defense is a natural right which is specifically recognized in the Constitution.

More importantly, although these figures may be interesting for certain analyses, they don't tell us much about societal violence. Incredibly, Blow never addresses the obvious relevant figure: the overall homicide rate. He is able to claim that the U.S. is in "a league of its own," with a country sphere at the top of the chart, only by basing his analysis on an irrelevant statistic -- "percent of homicides by firearms." A homicide is a homicide, whether it's done with a Glock or a garden hose. In the U.S., sharp instruments -- e.g., knives -- are the second-most popular murder weapon. They have dropped from around 20% to 12% of the total. For comparison, in Canada, guns and knives both account for around 34% of the total murders. In England and Wales, where guns are strictly controlled, 28% of homicides are committed with a knife and only 6% with a firearm. British gun murders in some years rank below death by blunt object, kicking, and strangulation. But so what? During the Rwandan genocide, the gun homicide rate was extremely low, given the preference of Hutus for death by machete. Is the percentage of homicides by kicking any less indicative of violence? Homicidal people seem to find the means necessary, and if nothing else is available, strangulation with one's bare hands is quite effective.

A second statistic presented in the New York Times chart repeats this same distortion. The circles representing countries are "sized relative to firearm homicides per capita" rather than overall homicide rates. Thus, the country sphere for the U.S., with an overall homicide rate of 5.0 per 100,000, is much larger than Mexico's, which has 15.0 homicides per 100,000, or triple that of the U.S. The country sphere for Turkey is miniscule despite Turkey's homicide rate of 6.9, 28% higher than that of the U.S. Turks and Mexicans apparently find ways to kill each other without using guns. In the case of the Mexican drug gangs, beheadings are trending upward.

In correcting a very flawed article, Mr. Wilson performs a valuable service to the gun community. But I wonder, as people bandy about these various statistics, at what homicide rate do they think we might consider gun control. If 5.0 per 100,000 is low enough to allow us to keep our guns, is 7.0 per 100,000 no longer acceptable, or 10.0 per 100,000? When someone begins arguing statistics, I always wonder at what point we no longer have the right to defend ourselves?

Wilson also makes another point that is usually overlooked by those arguing for gun control: that the overall rate of homicide is not likely to go down simply because guns are not available.  He points out that in the US, knives are the second preferred means of committing murder after guns.  The gun grabbers assume, as an article of faith unsupported by evidence, that if guns are taken away, that portion of homicides represented by guns will go away with them.  But as Wilson points out, in countries where guns are less available, murders tend to be committed with the means at hand, and knives are harder to control than are guns.  Indeed, we can look to the formerly Great Britain to see that rigourous gun control has, if anything, caused the overall homicide rate to increase.  In a desperate attempt to put a lid on the homicide rates, knives are not allowed to be carried.  But really, how do they know?  And what about screw drivers, hammers, and other tools?  Are they prepared to strip society down to the stone age?  At what point do they realize that even stone age people had sharp edges with which to kill their fellow man?

Like it or not, the reality is that guns in the hands of honest citizens, carried about wherever they go, represents a huge barrier to the criminal.  He has to guess whether his apparently helpless victim may have the means to effectively defend himself, or if others around him will likely come to his aid with lethal force.  Believe it or not, that is a powerful deterent to crime.  


  1. The constantly-shrinking percentage of those who wish us disarmed just get louder with passage of time. I'm encouraged by polls which show more & more people are recognizing the lies.

    Great post, sir; thanks.

  2. Rev. Paul,

    You are right that more and more people are getting the message that guns are not dangerous. And some of the fence sitters are coming to the realization that more guns does equal less crime. But the hard core gun grabbers never seem to go away. I get weary of flogging a dead horse, but I guess I must.

    Best regards,