Before we start, I don’t want to debate, right now, whether more or less gun control would have prevented today’s tragedy (although you can probably guess which way I lean). No, I want to illustrate how statistics get distorted to make gun control seem like a good idea.
(For the moment, I’ll ignore the suggestion that guns kill people all by themselves. I also have no idea if Dakin supports gun control or not. I do know that this has been retweeted by about 10,000 people who do.)
Notice a few things here. First, he’s split up England and Wales to make them seem less violent. Second, he compares the absolute number of gun homicides (not necessarily murders), which is deeply problematic. In one case, he’s comparing us to nation with a 15th of our population.
Let’s make a more useful comparison. We’ll take the 2010 murder rates and scale them up to the 312 million population of the United States.
Australia – 3,600
United Kingdom – 3,800
Germany – 2,500
Canada – 5,000
United States – 15,000
On this scale, the US is still the most violent country in the data, but the difference is not nearly as stark. But before you go thinking that strict gun control could reduce the number of murders by 80%, note something important: non-gun murders. Every year, 5000 Americans are killed without a gun involved. This number is still greater than the total murder rate in the other countries, nearly twice the rate of their non-gun murders.
There are other issues here: the plunge in murder rates over the last twenty years as gun control laws were loosened; the very low murder rates outside of the high-crime inner cities; that gun control laws in other countries aren’t as straight-forward as thought; that many nations with high gun ownership have low homicide rates (Switzerland, for example).
That’s another debate. What I’m pointing out here is how the numbers have been manipulated to make a bad situation seem worse in order to push an agenda.