Bats, Iron Bars, and Bricks

Several readers wrote to complain about a story in last week’s issue (26 June 2005):

Another Symptom of the Same Disease

An editorial in the British Medical Journal has a vital, urgent suggestion for the improvement of public health: pointy kitchen knives must be banned to “reduce knife crime.” Laws must be passed, the authors say, to require blunt, rounded knife tips because of a recent rise in stabbings. In the U.S., even the most rabid gun-control advocates ridiculed the proposal. “Can sharp stick control be far behind?” sneered a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. But the editorial’s authors are serious. They say they polled 10 English chefs and “none gave a reason why the long, pointed knife was essential.” (New York Times) …Insert obligatory joke about the inability of the English to cook.

The complainers will be represented by Gary, who didn’t say where he is but I presume he lives in the British Commonwealth:

“At first [the proposal] struck me as funny too, until you think about it a little bit more. If you made it harder for someone to thrust in deep (i.e., make the point blunt), you mitigate the damage they can do that way. The only other way left for them to kill someone then is to use the edge of the knife to slash at them, and unless they know some anatomy, go for one of the major superficial arteries and hit it, or make it difficult for the person to get away and/or fight back, it drops the chance of a successful kill dramatically. And they are right, what the hell is the point of the sharp tip of the knife, when all you use is the edge? Looking forward to your reply.”

Well, Gary, maybe all you use is the edge, but plenty of us who cook do use the points. Still, that’s not the …um… point of the story. You still need to think about it a little bit more.

Britain has a problem with violence. They banned guns, so now there’s a big problem with “knife crime.” So the answer is to ban knives? Then Britain will have a problem with “bat crime,” or “iron bar crime,” or “brick crime.” Are they then going to ban bats, iron bars and bricks?

The gun lobby likes to say, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” And knives don’t kill people, nor bats, nor iron bars. The problem isn’t weapons, the problem is violence. Unless that’s addressed, banning arms — either firearms or the limbs hanging from your shoulders — isn’t going to fix the problem, is it?

Direct Blame in the Right Direction

Blaming the knife (or the gun or the stick or the rock) takes the blame from whom it really belongs to: the criminal who assaults others with it. Screaming “Knives are evil!” may sound reasonable, but if you do “think about it a little bit,” you’ll have to conclude it’s not the knife that’s a problem. Insisting that it is just perpetuates a lack of responsibility. “It’s the knife!” means the true evil is completely ignored: the person wielding it.

It’s the same with guns. Guns are illegal in Washington D.C., so it has the lowest violent crime, right? Wrong; it’s among the highest in the nation. Florida passed a law saying that barring something that disqualifies them (e.g., a felony conviction), citizens must be issued a permit to carry guns if they ask for one. “Blood will run in the streets!” the scare mongers warned. Did that happen? Nope: violent crime went down there — dramatically. And the very same thing has happened in every state that has adopted a similar law since.

It’s convenient to blame guns. But it’s also wrong. Blaming knives is the same thing.

Before you write me on this subject, remember: this is not about knives. It’s not about guns. It’s not about clubs, rocks, spears, or pointy fence posts. It’s about violence. Address that, and the knives, guns, and other weapons won’t matter.

Now You’re Cookin’

My tagline on the story (“Insert obligatory joke about the inability of the English to cook.”) wasn’t overlooked either:

I resent this comment. As a Brit born just after WWII I will readily concede that our cooking for many years was rightly reviled. But that was then, and this is now, and our reputation has never been higher. It’s not something that happened overnight and we still have a sizeable rump of the population which goes for so-called American cooking e.g. the offal that McDonalds and the other fast-food franchises serve up. Stereotypes are unhelpful and jingoistic at the best of times; outdated stereotypes are gratuitous and just plain rude. –John in England

Americans don’t consider McDonald’s “American food,” John, so I’m not sure why you do. Still, I’m confused: English food is so wonderfully good that you “still have a sizeable rump of the population” that flocks to eat “offal” instead?

Yeah, that defends the honour of British chefs!

But your main point is that you criticize me for vaguely acknowledging the stereotypical “reputation” that English food has, and you then participate in rather specific stereotype in making your argument. Clue: this is known as “the pot calling the kettle black.”

At least one Brit does have a sense of humor (er, humour!):

If our knives only have rounded edges, how on earth are we going to pierce the films of our ready meals (the only thing we can cook) before shoving them in the microwave? We’ll all starve! Maybe it is a sneaky solution to the obesity epidemic! –Belinda in England

Only a couple of hundred people unsubscribed in protest, though — far fewer than in some of the past controversies.

- - -

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Bats, Iron Bars, and Bricks
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32 Comments on “Bats, Iron Bars, and Bricks

  1. I do understand that your point is not specifically pro/anti-gun matters — and has everything to do with cutting through the stupidity, striving for the truth of the situation. There have been rare times when I have not entirely agreed with some of your comments, but I see that you consistently strive to switch on the lights and cut through the darkness of human stupidity. For this I salute you. Don’t stop.

  2. I find the complaints of readers almost as humourous as the This is True stories themselves. I would think that the entire POINT of This is True is to point out the absurdities of life and insane behaviours of those we wish to believe are lesser examples of our species. We would all be very busy if we spent our time pouring over the daily news and firing off letters of complaint for every remark that caused the slightest offence.

    I enjoy This is True because it highlights the ridiculous. Your tongue-in-cheek, sometimes sarcastic asides provide the added chuckle at the end. Yes, at times I have thought ‘Hmmmm… that is a bit harsh.’ However, if I didn’t appreciate your style of humour, I would not continue to read it.

  3. I advocate arming the populace, however I think there should also be gun safety courses mandated along with the licenses. As a child, touring a U.S. Navy ship, I was aggravated by a soldier who refused to demonstrate to me that the M-16 on display was unloaded before I picked it up to examine it. My father, who was a U.S. Marine combat veteran of the Korean war, proceeded to dress the soldier down in no uncertain terms about the importance of weapon safety. The young man, red-faced and obviously embarrassed, proceeded to remove the magazine and open the breech for me.

    People laugh about gun safety, calling it an oxymoron, but many – if not all – of the accidental gun deaths every year could be eliminated if proper gun safety is practiced. While I think gun control is hitting your target, proper gun safety helps make sure you only hit your target.

  4. Well said. Of course, when banning handguns was first proposed in the UK, the Duke of Edinburgh did ask whether we would try to ban cricket bats if they were used in violent crime, but that argument fell on deaf ears.

    Is the story with the tagline about half the British breaking up rocks so the other half can’t throw them at each other online yet? It strikes me as rather pertinent…

    No, that story will have to wait its turn, but I hope to be caught up and have it online in less than a year. I have thousands of stories in line before it! -rc

  5. I felt I had to chime in here because reading this I feel an important distiction which seperates guns from bats, bars and bricks is being missed. yes, you can kills some one with any of them (or more or less any other heavy or pointy object if wielded with enough force and venom) but only guns allow you to kill a number of people from a distance, everything else requires individual personal service and a certain amount of personal strength (or admittedly a lucky strike). The ban on handguns in the UK (it is still legal to own shotguns for hunting) came after a man walked into a primary school and killed sixteen children and their teacher with two 9 mm Browning HP pistols and two Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolvers, all legally held. There is no way he could have created the same carnage with a cricket bat or even with a shotgun(s) and bith would be alot more difficult to conceal on the way into the school. Whilst there is a blackmarket in pistols/ handguns in the UK now, someone trying to gather up the same range of weopons now would find it alot more difficult and just being found to own one is indication that you’re intending something illegal. Lone psycho’s aside, not having handguns in the home has to reduce the possibility of them being brought out in anger, yes, you might go after your cheating spouse with a knife or a cricket bat but as long as they can keep out of arms length they have a chance where as you can pull the trigger and deliver a lethal shot from some distance away.. People will always be violent at times, but any measure that reduces the possibility of that violence becoming lethal and makes it more difficult (i.e that it relies on your own personal strength + speed rather than the vastly greater energy in a speeding bullet) has to be a good thing. That said, the blunt knife idea is blatantly stupid and was realised as such so you’ll be pleased to hear we still have the dangerous pointy kitchen knives this side of the pond too ;O)..

  6. Randy – you got it all wrong. These people (who want to outlaw pointy things) don’t care what happens, they are just looking for HEADLINES.

    They want the people (voters/donors) to think they care. Here in CA, the politicians keep getting reelected for passing stupid “nanny laws”. Here we have a special law that says you’re endangering a child if you carelessly leave a loaded firearm laying around. Can you imagine?

    Another soon to be passed law says you can’t drive and talk on a cell phone unless it’s hands-free. Otherwise too much of a distraction I guess.

    Personally if I wanted to kill someone, I’d jump in the car and run them over. Hit and run so to speak. I’d be ready to take a big swig of alcohol and say I was drunk if I got caught.

  7. There are two common “excuses” for banning guns: police will protect you, and the government is not the enemy.

    As for police protection, there have been many court cases going right to the Supreme Court affirming that the police have no duty to protect anyone. Even the worst cases, where police dropped 911 calls for no reason or didn’t try very hard to respond, affirm that. There is also the implication that “civilians” are not trustworthy but police are, which ties in very nicely with the second argument —

    The government is not the enemy. Anyone who follows the news is aware of police corruption. But very few know the story of the Deacons for Defense and Justice, a group of WW II and Korean War veterans, black, who took up arms in the 1960s in the deep south to keep the KKK-infested state, city, and county governments at bay. Don’t take my word for it — google them, read the book, watch the movie. Then think about this happening just 40 years ago, and see if you can summon the nerve to repeat that the government is trustworthy and police are here to protect us — remember the Japanese interned in 1942 — consider all the rabid statements today about Muslims and Arabs. If you can still say that guns have no use, then I have only pity for your narrow closed mind.

  8. Something that’s very interesting in this regard is to look at the history of British law where weapons are concerned. To cut a long story short, prior to the 20th century, violent crime in the UK had dropped steadily for 500 years, even with the passage of laws that allowed and even encouraged essentially anyone to own firearms for whatever purpose they felt necessary. There are even a few cases on record where British police, chasing armed robbers, were handed firearms by citizens with which to continue the chase. Indeed, in the Middle Ages, English common law obligated every law-abiding citizen to do all they reasonably could to stop and apprehend criminals. If you failed to join the “hue and cry” and pursue a criminal, or allowed a criminal to escape through inaction when you could readily have stopped him, you could even be charged as an accomplice to the crime.

    All that changed around 1900, when the British government became afraid of Bolsheviks and passed the first laws restricting private ownership of weapons. Along with that came the position that catching criminals was to be left to the police. Once they’d started, they never looked back, and with each new restriction on legal ownership of weapons, violent crime rose, until now Britain has the third highest rate of violent crime in the world.

    It has never ceased to amaze me how blind are the fearful who propose such laws. Laws against the carrying of arms will never stop crime, because criminals, by definition, don’t obey laws.

  9. It seems to me the obvious solution is to allow the sale of pointy knifes only to registered, trained, chefs. A 3 day ‘cooling off’ period could also be established.

  10. Bex UK,

    Does it really matter if I kill 16 people at a distance or if I kill them up close? Quite frankly if the guy walked INTO A SCHOOL when he fired the rounds, I don’t see how distance would matter. He targeted children that he could just have easily overpowered and killed very quickly by snapping their necks or stabbing them.

    I could easily mow 16 people down with my car; should we ban cars???

    Practice enough and you can be just as deadly with a slingshot as you are with a gun.

    It isn’t the weapon that matters, it is the mindset of the person committing the crime. Something as simple as bleach (or other toxic household chemical) could be used to poison the food at some large event and kill hundreds. Do we then outlaw bleach?

    Some jerk talking on his cell phone pulling out in front of a bus load of kids could easily kill them in the crash, we don’t punish everyone by outlawing cars or cell phones.

    I’m not sure why people are so sensitive about guns killing people. If you have a pool or one of your children’s friends has a pool your child has a much greater likelihood of drowning in that pool than they do of being shot with a gun. When a child drowns we don’t outlaw pools.

    Death happens every single day. I fail to see why one method brings out so much panic and fear while few people think twice about getting in a car where they have a much greater chance of being involved in a deadly situation.

    My point is that if someone wants to kill other people, whether one person or a large group, they can find a way to do it. Guns aren’t the problem.

  11. I always find it amusing how pro-gun advocates are focusing on western world to prove their case. However there are other cases that prove their point. Take Lebanon for example. Prior to outbreak of civil war (1975) shi’ias were the bottom of the ladder. Oppressed, no rights and everybody was free to pick on them. Compare that with current situation, when they militia (Hezbollah). Everybody takes them seriously and they are a force to be reckoned with. It proved all of the pro-gun arguments. Guns are need to fight foreign occupation. Guns are needed to fight oppressive government. Though the fact that both occupier and government are pro-US means that US government demands they disarm, Hezbollah’s chief Nasrallah uses same arguments not to (such as “disarming Hezbollah will cause new war”).

    It seems US government is aware of what weapons can do, just don’t want to see Lebanese shi’ias to have their protection.

  12. Before I moved from Vermont, the three most recent murders had all been committed without the use of any type of firearm; one using a MagLight (of a Game Warden – his own light) one using a length of pipe (broad daylight on the lawn at the top of Church Street in Burlington) and one using a fire extinguisher (of a pregnant woman in a convenience store). Using the knee-jerk logic of the anti-2nd amendment crowd we would need have laws so that only licensed electricians could own flashlights, only licensed plumbers could own pipe and only firefighters could own fire extinguishers.

  13. Of course banning pointed knives is patently ridiculous, particularly given their occasional necessity and frequent utility in the kitchen – not to mention a plethora of other long, sharp, pointed tools that are frequently found around the house. A significant point, however, is often overlooked in any argument about violent crime and weapon control: few people consider the relative lethality of the weapons being discussed. The UK has a higher rate of violent crime than the US, true, but their murder rate is about a quarter that of the United States (per capita, of course). Banning guns is unlikely to have any significant impact on crime rates, but it is undeniably more difficult to kill someone with a steak knife than a 9mm pistol. I suspect – having not read the article in the BMJ I cannot of course speak authoritatively – that the writer would not object to the points on paring knives as much as those on 10 or 12 inch butcher’s blades.

    My summary story indeed quotes that they’re after the “long, pointed knife (emphasis added). -rc

  14. My only point is this, banning guns (or pointy knives) is (pardon the pun) Pointless. In the end all it does it disarm the law abiding public. 80 million gun owners in the US are not running out and shooting someone every day, nor are the vastly superior numbers of knife owners out stabbing people every day. LOL

    Criminals don’t seem to care about laws, so they don’t follow them. The only place you need to look for that is the “war on drugs”. Trust me, they (drugs) are EASY to get. That tells me that “banning” things, or making them illegal only really serves to prop up the bankrolls of politicians and the govt. agency’s. Creation of jobs, etc. Ever since Nancy Reagan said “just say no” thousands of jobs were created to fight a war they have no intention of winning.

    I will always stand that a gun should be legal. Yer right, its much harder to kill 16 kids w/ a bat. At the same time its much easier for a 110 lb woman to defend herself from a 300 lb man intent on rape. (for the record i’m a guy) … oh and the person who said it would be harder to do the shooting in Scotland with a shotgun (i was stationed there at the time) is goofy, they don’t call it a “room sweeper” for nothing, and a cut off shotgun (if he’s gonna shoot someone does he care about legal length?) with a pistol grip is REAL easy to hide under a jacket. Its still about a person, planing to do something illegal, and evil.

    In the end it comes down to people, and people will shoot people, bigger people will beat down smaller people, men will beat women, people will buy/do drugs etc. All of those things are illegal now. Yet they are still done unfortunately. You cant legislate being nice. I can google to my hearts content, but i will never find a court case “US vs. Some 9mm” because like knives they don’t jump up and shoot someone by themselves.

  15. By this same logic, hands should be illegal. You can strangle somebody with your hands, and you can use your hands to fire a gun or stab with a knife. THIS is the root of all evil; HANDS! Government-enforced hand removal will start this Tuesday. Have a great day, everybody!

  16. There is a severe illness in the American psyche over their obsession with weapons. Time to grow up and heal yourselves.

    Why are you afraid to say you’re in Australia?

    But here’s a thought: how about taking some effort to understand the concept, rather than look down your nose at it? England has banned weapons, and now look at what has happened there. Meanwhile, state after U.S. state have adopted laws to allow people to carry concealed weapons, and the result has been that violent crime has been sharply reduced (see just one discussion of the subject). Yes, we do have an issue with violence — and by “we” I mean humanity, not America. Ignoring it hasn’t made it go away. Dealing with it has helped. How is Australia dealing with it? -rc

  17. Decades ago I read somewhere that Christopher Columbus learned a rumor that his crew were planning a mutiny. One of the things he did was to round off the points of knives, thus giving us the dinner knife. And it must’ve worked — he DID get to America.

    Somebody wanting to kill, will; but making it harder to do may save some lives.

    Gun control? I dunno. We need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals — but if they’re banned, and only the government has them, how do we protect ourselves against a military dictatorship? I’ve never resolved this in my mind.

    My BS-o-Meter gonged at the Columbus story. I didn’t really research it, but this site says Louis the XIV “invented” them (if you will). -rc

  18. Guns are tools. Like any tool they can be misused. The problem is that guns are the most deadly tool your average human can get their hands on. Sure I can run you over with my car, if you’re stationary. Sure I can attack you with a bat, unless you’re faster than me. Or a knife, unless you’re more than arm’s lengeth plus knife lengeth away. An untrained person, who needs help can walk into a crowded public area and kill many people, especially if they don’t care about their own life. Give that person a knife instead and how many lives are saved? Give the Colombine kids knives, or that Virginia Tech guy a knife. How many of those killed would’ve survived?

    The reson I’m fine with Police and military personnel having guns is because they go through special training. How much training does it take for me? Almost none. Hell in Minnesota I can take a 3 and a half hour class and a 6 hour class for $325 total and carry a concealed weapon into almost any public area in the state (unless they properly display a correctly worded sign forbidding it). Less than a grand and two evenings and I’m suddenly Sheriff Craig.

    Plus the “defend ourselves from our government” argument no longer holds water. Lets say the trend continues and all civil rights are vacated. How exactly are you going to defend yourself against a STEALTH BOMBER or a M1A2 ABRAMS with your collection of pistols, riffles and shotguns? Face it if a single person, or group of people, could convince the armed services and police forces to join their banner we are done f’ed.

  19. Even after pointing it out, I see that many posters miss one point – they don’t want to ban firearms, they want to feel safer. There are a number of assumptions implicit in asserting that seriously limiting legal ownership of firearms will do that. For those who weren’t around 88 years ago, may I review alcohol Prohibition in the US? We as a people largely agreed that alcohol consumption was associated with many problems, and some folks thought that banning it altogether was an effective solution.

    After Prohibition was enacted: per capita alcohol consumption went up in the US; many police were corrupted (they were offered large amounts of money to look the other way for behavior they were indulging in months earlier); criminal gangs were well-funded, and gang warfare over lucrative customer territory broke out; young folks went on dates to speakeasies and learned that it was cool to hang out with gangsters; alcoholics could not easily seek treatment from their ministers or doctors – they’d have to admit that they were routinely committing felony offenses; and respectable folks had to give up their careers (brewers and bartenders) in tough times or become criminals.

    The consequences of the law were not what the proponents of it were expecting. Some folks press for certain laws so hard and so long they forget what they really want from it.

    And the worst part? We’re still feeling the effects from Prohibition. “Organized crime,” once it was “organized,” didn’t just go away when Prohibition ended; it simply moved to other vices (drugs, anyone?) Saying “Oops: we made a mistake” (ending Prohibition) wasn’t enough. -rc

  20. Written into the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. Look at the history when it was written. At that point they had been protecting themselves against the government of the time (British Monarchy). They felt it important that people be able to defend themselves against an unjust and corrupt government.

    But people don’t want to think that it might come to blows in the end. The founding fathers also believed in State Sovreignty where each state has the right to override the Federal Rule which has also fallen by the wayside in recent events (eg: CA voted down gay marriage act twice and federal government over turned it and allowed it). Its frustrating to think that people are actually pushing for the government to take away the same rights to be a self governing people that were given by those who fought so hard to provide us with it in the first place. It is truly tragic.

  21. I don’t remember where I first heard this, but it seems to fit this discussion… “When seconds matter, police are only minutes away.”

  22. I used to think that many problems would be reduced by banning guns in America, but then I saw a Michael Moore video which put forward a very convincing argument that it wasn’t the number of guns in America that was the problem, but the culture of America and the psychology of its people.
    Posted by: Felix, California | May 20, 2008 1:24 AM

    You make some good points, but it sounds a bit like a straw-man argument. You put up a couple of arguments as being common — and they well might be — but then after refuting them you imply the debate is over, as if they were the only two arguments being raised. And personally, I’ve never heard anyone use them.

    American doesn’t have a problem with violence, humanity does. Take a look at what started this thread: it was a story from England.

    As for Felix, he presented two points and discussed them. I sure didn’t take it as a complete exploration of this rather complex subject. Not sure why you thought it was. -rc

  23. There’s not much to add on the violence issue; knives are used in stabbings people somebody wanted to stab somebody else, not because knives are somehow attracted to human kidneys.

    But my customarily free-wheeling train of thought sidetracked, as is its wont, to a rant I recently posted on my blog. Y’see, the police in England (can’t remember if it extended to the UK as a whole) recently voted to (deep breath) lobby the government to change the law to allow them to strike. In other words, they wanted the right to strike for better pay.

    Now, I’m the first to agree that police are under-paid and under-appreciated, but they are one of those rare services that cannot and must not be allowed to strike. Particularly in the UK, where the governmental monopoly on force is almost complete. After all, we agree not to arm ourselves because we “know” that the police will protect us should everything go wrong. If we can no longer rely on that, then what?

    If the police get the right to strike, I’m buying a gun.

    Shouldn’t be too hard, with no police to raid that white van on the corner.

  24. | Posted by: JEQP, Mexico | May 27, 2008 3:23 PM
    I am not sure why you think I implied the argument was over, as if I just waved my hands and that was the end of it. I meant it as my personal take on the issue and why it puzzles me, and yes, those two points are the most common arguments I have heard for gun control, other than the meaningless “guns are evil and must be banned” which I have pretty much tuned out as nonsense which has no substance to dispute.

    If you have rebuttals or other arguments, post them, and the discussion will continue. That’s the point of posting here.

  25. Posted by: Felix, California | May 27, 2008 8:22 PM

    And Randy…

    It was this line: “If you can still say that guns have no use, then I have only pity for your narrow closed mind.” In my culture that would be a dismissive attempt to end the argument. On that topic, I’ve never heard anyone say that “guns have no use”, since they’re obviously very useful for killing people.

    “American doesn’t have a problem with violence, humanity does. Take a look at what started this thread: it was a story from England.”

    I never said that violence only occured in America, but there is a far higher per capita rate of violence than any other comparable country (developed, democratic). I’ve stopped reading about school shootings in the US because it’s become a bit of a “dog bites man” story — and if it makes you feel any better I’ve also stopped reading happyslapping stories from the UK for the same reason. My point was that it doesn’t seem to be the availability of guns that is the problem.

    My response was to your comment, “I saw a Michael Moore video which put forward a very convincing argument that it wasn’t the number of guns in America that was the problem, but the culture of America and the psychology of its people.” Again, it’s not the psychology of Americans, it’s humanity that has a problem. -rc

  26. OK, first of all, PLEASE! Let’s get a few things straight here. The US does NOT have “far higher per capita rate of violence than any other comparable country (developed, democratic)”. What is being used as “fact and statistics” is actually newspaper articles from newspapers with an agenda. If you take actual statistics, you will find that the US has about the same crime rate (per capita) that it did 100 years ago, and yes, I am including school shootings!! The crime is much more visible today due to the immediacy of the press and the TYPE of press coverage we have today. Brits who come to the US are astounded by how safe they feel, even in New York City (shudder – don’t like NY, myself, sorry!) compared to England!! So please, folks – before you start spouting the garbage the PRESS puts out as fact, check on the true statistics – OK? Because most of the time, the “press” is WAY wrong!

  27. Posted by: Debra Weidman, Virginia – USA | May 31, 2008 5:52 AM

    Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. I do not get my information from “newspapers with an agenda”, but from the United Nations. At this point I’ll note that claiming that “the US has about the same crime rate (per capita) that it did 100 years ago” has absolutely nothing to do with comparing it to other countries. In point of fact, the statistics I’ve seen indicates that crime in the US is falling — but so is the crime rate in most developed nations.

    I’ll admit the stats I give below are a bit old — they come from the “Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, covering the period 1998 – 2000”, but I doubt that the relative positions will have changed much during that time.

    Murders per capita
    United States: 0.042802 per 1,000 people
    Finland: 0.0283362 per 1,000 people
    Australia: 0.0150324 per 1,000 people
    United Kingdom: 0.0140633 per 1,000 people

    Murders with firearms (per capita) (most recent) by country
    United States: 0.0279271 per 1,000 people
    Switzerland: 0.00534117 per 1,000 people
    Australia: 0.00293678 per 1,000 people
    United Kingdom: 0.00102579 per 1,000 people

    In both cases the United States had the highest rate amongst developed nations — it looked pretty good compared to South Africa or Colombia (for example) but it’s not a reasonable comparison. I also included the country with the second highest rate, as well as England and Australia because those countries have been discussed. More than half of the murders in the US were by firearms, but the statistics from the other countries indicates that if the firearms weren’t available significant number of murderers would find find another way to do the deed.

  28. Actually if you look at just the murder rate of non-Hispanic whites in the USA, you’ll find the rate is fairly close to that of European countries. From the CDC’s mortality statistics, in 2005 (latest year available) the homicide rate of whites was 2.66/100,000 (or 0.0266 per 1,000). Not too far from Europe’s rates. However, the homicide rate of blacks was almost ten times higher at 22.84/100,000! This is what drives up the average rate in the USA as compared to other countries.

    Since both whites and blacks have equal access to firearms, it’s obvious the problem isn’t that guns are available, but rather points to society hugely failing the black community in some way. Whether this is due to economic, social or cultural factors, I can’t say, but it’s clear being black in America is much more dangerous than being white. And I think it’s a terrible shame that nothing is being done to address this real problem other than trying to impose useless gun control laws.

  29. There’s an inherent difference between guns and the bats, bricks, knives discussed here. Guns allow “death-at-a-distance.” They open the door to all the accidents, mistakes in judgment, etc. They can give a killer a sense of anonymity and make it easier to kill. It’s hard to stab someone to death by accident. It’s hard to run into a school and stab twenty students to death before you’re stopped. There’s a fundamental difference between guns and everything else. It’s not a continuum.

    The only problem is, you’ve missed the point of this page. It isn’t about guns, but rather violence. If we truly addressed violence, then guns (or knives or bricks) wouldn’t matter, because people wouldn’t be using them to hurt each other. -rc

  30. Well… this was an interesting read. My friend, Micky, 76 years old, lived just 6 miles from law enforcement but it didn’t help her when a drunk neighbor got his car stuck near her house and then killed her for her 18 year old Hundai. That likely will never happen in my home. I’m a law-abiding, legally-permitted, pistol-carrying U.S. citizen who makes it clear to anyone who’ll listen (when the subject arises) that I’m NOT an easy mark. I’ve lived peacefully in my lil’ log cabin for 30 years. I guarantee that every one of my neighbors within hollering distance has more than one firearm in their home and will show up at my door the minute they hear a distress call. This is rural America of which I am proud to be part of.

  31. Posted by Andrew, UK on May 27, 2008: Now, I’m the first to agree that police are under-paid and under-appreciated, but they are one of those rare services that cannot and must not be allowed to strike. Particularly in the UK, where the governmental monopoly on force is almost complete.

    Well … the police in New York City went on strike (effectively) because the (black) Mayor told them what he told his own (black) son — to be *very* careful around cops. This was after a (black) man was choked to death by a (white) cop for selling loose cigarettes.

    Oh, Dear! Chaos! Cats and dogs Dating! …

    Umm.. no. The basic crime rate (as in real crime, you know theft, murder, assault) stayed about the same. What changed is the cops did not “stop and frisk” or worry about petty things. Funny thing that.

    And the NYC cops have a monopoly on government force. You can experiment to test that. Enough people try — and the results are public.

    Point is: Cops going on strike will not make much of a difference, as shown by NYC.

    Now — changing the subject. “If hands are outlawed, only outlaws will have hands”. I rather like the ring about that… If everybody had a hand chopped off, I could buy a single glove (I have one hand, I am the (ahem) “One-armed bandit”). Do y’all have any concept how hard it is to buy just one glove?

    However, most people would want a prosthetic hand or hook. Do *any* of y’all have the faintest idea of how *dangerous* one of those things are? I don’t wear one for a number of reasons, including they can do a damage on a large number of things, including other people and yourself.
    Plus, look up Jay Armes, a private detective without hands. He has a gun built into one of the prosthetic arms and tells people about it. The other arm cost 10 times as much and he does not tell people what’s in it…

    Randy is spot-on. Someone wants to hurt or kill, they will give it the old college try. Been the way since Cain and Able.


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