More Guns, Less Crime

Don Kates is looking into European History:

Remarkably good homicide data is available for England, beginning in the 1200’s. Those data indicate a pre-gun homicide rate in England of roughly 20 per 100,000 [roughly four times greater than the U.S. today]

Firearms were introduced into England in the 1400’s and were in wide use by the 1500’s, coincident with a decline in the homicide rate to 15 per 100K.

RTWT. I would have never guessed that England kept detailed homicide data. That’s pretty amazing. There’s no doubt that pre-firearms societies were more brutal and violent than today. Back then, soldiering was an art form, and those not practiced in it couldn’t stand up to those who were. The firearm changed all that.

14 thoughts on “More Guns, Less Crime”

  1. Joyce Malcolm’s book on the history of gun control in England makes extensive use of early records of criminal trials. The records are pretty complete in some parts of England, but not in other parts.

    It is always a struggle to draw conclusions when you have incomplete data–but when you are looking for crime data, even incomplete data gives you a floor–there must have been at least this many murders in this year, because we have records for this many. There might have been more, but there could not have been less. From the 17th century onward, the records get much more complete.

  2. I question whether that conclusion can be reached with so little data. It seems to me that this is just a correlation, not necessarily a causation. Kates may be right but i think there needs to be more information before we can make a conclusion. My guess is a lot more than just the invention of the firearm happened over the course of those 200 years

  3. I’m sympathetic to the argument, but correlation is not causation. This argument would not stand up in a serious social science form. Maybe with a more sophisticated research design you could make that argument.

    I think the argument allows you to DISPROVE the hypothesis that there is a positive correlation between the number of firearms and the murder rate. But disproving that hypotheses is not the same as proving that there is in fact a negative correlation. There could be no correlation at all.

  4. No… but you could say it’s not about agriculture either, but we also know from early and prehistory that societies that developed agriculture quickly destroyed societies that did not.

  5. To everyone who says “correlation is not causation”: I agree, but we need to remember the claim that’s being debunked. Take heed, especially, mikeb302000, because you are one who has consistently backed this claim: “More guns means more crime.”

    Time and again, we see cases where guns become more accessible, and more prevalent, and the murder rate decreases. Time and again, we see cases where guns become less prevalent, and the murder rate increases. This is enough to destroy the claim that “more guns means more crime”!

    If we desire, we can find high-gun, low-crime societies; high-gun, high-crime societies; low-gun, low-crime societies; and low-gun, high-crime societies. From this we can go on to conclude: there is no correlation between gun violence and crime!.

    And from this, we can further conclude: decreasing crime, or decreasing gun deaths, are not valid reasons for banning guns.

    Besides, statistics is a lousy reason to do almost anything. I, for one, support gun rights, because we have a God-given right to self defense and even to Revolution against tyrannical governments. Statistics has nothing to do with this right.

    From this, then, we

  6. “From this we can go on to conclude: there is no correlation between gun violence and crime!

    Correction: There’s no correlation between gun ownership and crime!

  7. MikeB302000,

    It’s not all about the guns.

    Then why do you focus almost completely and obsessively on the firearms Sparky?????

  8. Alpheus, You may feel that you’ve got a God-given right to self-defense and that in order to exercise that right you need to own guns. I can accept that, although I disagree, I can accept that you feel that way. But the rest, about correlation and causation is just double talk. You sound like a flim-flam carny hustler repeating the same old nonsense until you believe it yourself.

    You said, “This is enough to destroy the claim that “more guns means more crime”!”

    Well, here’s why that won’t fly. It’s about the comparison of states with more guns vs. states with fewer guns.

  9. Wow, why am I not surprised that MikeB302000’s story changes within a single comment thread.

    It’s not all about the guns. There are many factors which contribute to these changes.

    So, gun control works even though it’s not all about the guns???

  10. Mikeb302000, as I looked at your link, I noticed that the link mentioned “gun deaths”. I was wondering what the overall murder rate for Hawaii was like, and I was about to look it up…but I discovered that Joe Huffman beat me to it!

    It doesn’t matter if “gun deaths” go down. What good is it to lower gun suicides, for example, if suicides by some other method go up, and the rate stays the same? We could accomplish that by a “Committing Suicide? Don’t use a gun! Use a rope instead!” advertising campaign…but such a campaign would be sick, and would do nothing to accomplish the true goal: to reduce the suicide rate overall.

    I served my mission in England, and in my second month there, my companion and I were mugged (a very interesting experience I won’t go into…). About a week later, my companion was talking to someone who was a little gloomy, because a friend had recently died. When my companion asked how this person’s friend died, the answer was “while he was getting mugged, his head was bashed in with a hammer.”

    Now tell me: what’s worse? Dying by being shot? Or dying by having your head bashed in with a hammer?

    As for my feeling that I have a God-given right to self defense: it isn’t just God-given. It is woven into my soul by a combination of God, evolution, and my own desire to live–for myself, and for my wife and children and friends. When someone threatens my life, or the life of those I love, I will do what I can to preserve it. And those that expect me to give up my life for the “greater good” are evil in every sense of the word–because the “greater good”, to the extent that it exists, requires the preservation of the innocent.

    In England, crime is ramping up. It isn’t just ramping up because guns are banned. It’s ramping up because the right to self-defense itself is infringed. You can go to jail if you instill fear in would-be criminals! If you defend your life and property–even if you are miles away from help–you can get a longer sentence than those who you shot! If you are attacked, you are told not to call “Help me, I’m under attack!” while doing your best to shield yourself with that briefcase you are carrying–you are required to yell “Call the police!”, as if the police could get to you in time to save your life…and as if you can expect that you will only be attacked when other people are around you, to call the police!

    When you deny the right to self defense, you deny the right to life itself. You expose yourself as the Collectivist you are…and you side yourself with those Collectivists–the Robespierres, the Nazis, the Communists, the Socialists of the world–who sacrificed millions for the Greater Good, and in the end, created a living hell for those who weren’t executed.

    Finally, it doesn’t matter that you provide statistics that show gun “control” works in a single location: For every level of murder and suicide, we can find cities, or even countries, with strong gun laws, and we can find cities with weak gun laws. That you can find a place with strong gun laws but low gun murder only confirms that there is no correlation–it doesn’t establish correlation! And before you can even talk about “causation vs. correlation”, you need to establish correlation!

  11. You sound like a flim-flam carny hustler repeating the same old nonsense until you believe it yourself.

    …said the guy with the ridiculous, unprovable ‘Famous 10%’ theory.

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