Murder by Non-Firearm Weaponry


January 25, 2008, 07:00 PM
Some years ago, I heard a rather shocking statistic that I thought might make for interesting discussion here. That statistic stated that the number of Americans murdered by non-firearm weaponry in a given year exceed the total number of murder victims in some other nations. That statistic certainly shocked me. If that figure was accurate, then how does it effect the gun control debate in the U.S.? At the very least, it seems to indicate that the absence of firearms does not reduce the murder rate to the degree many gun control advocates maintain. No doubt, I have opened another can of worms.


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January 25, 2008, 07:50 PM
The problem with statistics is that they can be manipulated all too easily. The great thing about statistics... is that they can be manipulated all too easily ;)

With statistics that deal with total deaths, you really have to view them with a grain of salt. A more meaningful statistic is deaths per capita, then further divide that into the populations, urban vs rural, etc. Then you can ideally group into criminal on criminal murders (e.g. gangs killing each other). Then you have to compare that number to non-firearms deaths per capita vs. firearms deaths per capita.

A problem I can foresee is that people would be likely to point out that drunk driving fatalities only make up ~40% of the total traffic fatalities - because they're not the majority, should we loosen up our DUI laws?

I think ultimately, England, with its ban on guns, and its rapidly inflating crime rates, relative to Switzerland, Finland, etc with their high guns per capita, and lower crime rates, are some of the best statistics in our arsenal. Additionally, the extremely violent cities in the US being the ones where guns are banned are very nice to point out as far as the inefficacy of gun control goes...

January 25, 2008, 08:02 PM
Considering our population, those statistics don't surprise me much. Our population isn't much less than all of western Europe's combined. We have around 10x the population of Canada, and 15X that of Australia. The only two countries with a larger population than us are are China and India.

January 25, 2008, 08:17 PM
Compare the British crime rate c. 1900 to ours at that time. Ours is higher. From what I recall, our crime rate has been consistently higher - whether gun control is in place or not, than the British.

Then again, it could just be a factor of the 'maturing' of a nation. The European nations in general were at each other's throats for years. Five hundred, probably more. They always had a fight on. The latter half of the 20th century was probably unique in its lack of killing between Western European nations.

After Napoleon, the British seemed to prefer killing other species of foreigners, and went around shoot people in Africa and Asia. The French thought it would be great fun to fight the Austrians. The Germans (Prussians then) thought it was fun to fight the Austrians, and doubly fun to fight the French. When WWI broke out, the Russians decided it was fun to fight the Austrians. When WWII broke out, it was Germany fighting Austrians again, then moving on to the rest of Europe.

January 26, 2008, 01:25 AM
As Mark Twain said; "there's liars, d--m liars and statistics. Even a not so good statistician can "prove" any theory he wants with statistics.

January 26, 2008, 04:08 AM
What struck me most forcefully about the statistic to which I referred was that 30-35% of murders in the U.S. at that time were not committed with firearms. That is not the impression I had received from popular culture. This is why I remember that finding so vividly. Please understand, I realize the need to analyze statistics cautiously. Indeed, I am surprised some of our more statistically literate contributors have not chimed to discuss statistical analysis. But the point I am endeavoring to make is that I was surprised that so many murders both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the total homicides were not carried out with firearms. Perhaps I was more naive in those days.


January 26, 2008, 08:47 AM
This is one of the things I like to point out when I argue this subject; when most anti-gunners "think" about this subject, for them, they see "more guns equals more murders", and that's as far as they go with it. However, I point out that Americans kill each other more often with NON-GUN means than Canadians kill each other with all means combined; does this mean that Americans have more arms and legs than Canadians do, or is there likely some other mechanism at work here? Even if no-one was ever killed in the US with a gun ever again, the US murder rate (the number of murders per 100,000 population) would STILL be higher than the Canadian rate, and guns and gun control are totally irrelevant to that. The really shocking thing in regards to the US murder rate is how it is so stratified; half of all murders in the US are committed by a relatively tiny cohort (young black males between the ages of 14 and 24) and the vast majority of this cohort can't buy or possess a gun legally to begin with. That group makes up less than 3% of the US population, so why are they committing half of all murders in the US? They certainly don't own half of all GUNS in the US (they wouldn't be close to that even if each of them owned THREE guns). This is the problem REALLY at play in the US, but no solutions will be forthcoming because of the political realities at work; Democrats won't do anything other than call for more "gun control" because they DEPEND on that identifiable voting block, and Republicans won't take a serious look at the problem because they know they'd be crucified as racists if they did.

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