European Murder Rates Compared to the United States: Demographics vs Guns


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Dean Weingarten
January 12, 2013, 10:51 AM
When the subject is gun control, those who demand more for the United States always point to Europe. Europe, they say, has more gun control than the United States, and lower murder rates. Europe, of course, is a diverse place. Some places have lots of guns and low murder rates. Some places have few guns and higher murder rates. The reason that many developed European countries have murder rates much lower than the United States is not guns or gun control. It is demographics.

In 2006 the Department of Justice issued a report on violent felons in large urban counties. It covered the period from 1990 to 2002, and included the 75 most populous counties in the United States. The study accounted for over half of all the murders in the United States in the covered period.

Revealed in the study was a simple breakdown of the demographics of the murderers that is not commonly available. Murderers were divided into three groups. Blacks were the most numerous at 46%. Hispanics were next at 27 percent. Non-Hispanic whites were last at 23 percent.

While the study does not account for all murders in the period studied, it accounts for more than half and almost certainly slightly understates the percentages of Black murderers, because the latest FBI statistics (for 2010) show that when all the murders in the U.S are taken into account, the percentage of Black murderers is over 53 percent.

No one would dispute that there are several distinct cultures among the American black population. No one would dispute that none of these cultures exist in Europe in any statistically significant numbers. Some of the Black American subcultures probably have very low murder rates. We cannot tell because we do not have the data to distinguish between them.

Similarly, there are a number of distinct Hispanic cultures in the United States. These are all derived from cultures in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. They are not Spanish or Portuguese. No one would argue that any statistical number of these populations exist in Europe. No doubt, some of these cultures also have very low murder rates, but without data, we cannot separate them out.

Where does that lead us? If we take the 23 percent figure for non-Hispanic whites to be representative for the entire population (remember, it is likely a good bit lower), then the number of murders committed by non-Hispanic and non-black people in the United States for 2010 would be 2989.

The population of non-Hispanic whites for 2010 was 196.8 million. Applying the 2989 murders to this population gives a murder rate of 1.52 per 100,000 population. We cannot get a more precise figure unless we have more demographic data than that given. Asian-Americans, for example, have historically had very low murder rates, but we do not have the data. The 1.52 per 100,000 murder rate is right in the middle of the murder rate of developed European countries. Add the Black and Hispanic numbers back into the mix and apply to the entire United States population, and the murder rate goes up to 4.2 per 100,000. Guns or gun control simply do not correlate to higher murder rates, particularly when you consider that non-Hispanic Whites own guns at much higher rates than do Blacks or Hispanics in the United States.

There are huge numbers of German-Americans, English-Americans, Greek-Americans, Italian-Americans, Scandinavian and Swiss-Americans in the United States. There are no statistically significant numbers of African-American or Hispanic-Americans in Europe.

As a check, you might consider a non-European example. Japan has extreme gun control and extremely low murder rates. The FBI used to track murders by Japanese-Americans before 1980, when access to firearms was relatively easy.

The murder rate of Japanese Americans was less than half that of Japanese in Japan.

Murder rates are driven by cultural background, not by the instrument used.

European murder and gun ownership rates: Link

Department of Justice Study with demographic data: Link

FBI homicide statistics, 2010: Link

Japanese and Japanese American murder rates: Link

Household Gun Ownership Rates: Link

Dean Weingarten

Links active at the site:

http://gunwatch.blogspot.com/2013/01/european-murder-rates-compared-to.html

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AlexanderA
January 12, 2013, 11:47 AM
I might add that in Europe, strict gun laws do not necessarily correlate with low prevalence of guns. There are huge numbers of "underground" or illegal guns. As gun laws become more strict, they don't necessarily remove guns from society. They just drive them underground. Given that the number of guns in Europe is understated, this actually reinforces your idea that demographic factors are more important than gun prevalence in determining the murder rate.

Dr.Zubrato
January 12, 2013, 05:08 PM
You know, while you may have gathered data from legitimate sources I think the problem is the interpretation of the data, and the cherrypicking. The problem is much bigger than "cultural background" as you put it and more with inner city problems like gangs, and poor neighborhoods where easy money is the only money these kids see.
Growing up in chicago I had black, white, and hispanic friends get sucked into gangs, and they all had loving families that worked their fingers calloused to feed 'em. Black culture is not the doorstep to lay this blame in my opinion, but more squarely the drug wars in the poor neighborhoods. It's not easy to make a legitimate dollar when there are wolves out to get you at every step.

I don't see this being perceived as anything BUT racist, and is NOT a legitimate analysis of the complex issues of violence in america.

ccsniper
January 12, 2013, 05:14 PM
Japan has a VERY high suicide rate. That is because many murders are deemed as suicides in order to make local government officials look good. Japan is number 6 in suicides in the world.

Dean Weingarten
January 12, 2013, 11:18 PM
I think that the gangs are simply a reversion to tribalism. It does not really matter if you are black or white or brown. The lack of a moral upbringing and a supportive community has people reverting to the same moral system as small tribes have. Everyone in the tribe is regarded as human, everyone outside is the enemy, and may be preyed upon without a moral problem.

The U.S. was able to bring a great many people into the "melting pot" and assimilate them into the cultural norms of western civilization. But that has not happened in a lot of urban ghettos, and when the young men resort to gangs for lack of other male authority, you get very high homicide rates.

Of course, that is speculation on my part. I do not know preciselyl what all the factors are. But, it clearly is not guns, because gun ownership does not correlate to the homicide rates.

Dean Weingarten
January 12, 2013, 11:19 PM
After prohibition, I believe the murder rate fell by about half.

Mr.Blue
January 13, 2013, 12:02 AM
I agree 100%, Dean. It may not be politically correct, but it is true.
That said, both Asians and Caucasians tend to be the rage killers and serial killers.
This killings are certainly more high profile and mask the true demographics
of killings.

hso
January 13, 2013, 12:52 AM
You're better off going to the primary sources.

Here's the UK Home Office version of our Uniform Crime Report. In it you'll find the rates of violent crime for 15 EU countries (although why the UK separated UK:England and Wales from UK: Scotland and UK:Ireland is beyond me). You will find that the UK is in the middle of the 15 European countries for violent crime rates tied with France. Also note the countries with lower violent crime rates that have far more liberal firearms ownership than the UK. If the UK has a superior approach to controlling murder and violent crime that focuses upon prohibiting firearms then why do countries with more liberal firearms ownership laws have lower violent crime and murder rates? Perhaps the fact that there's no correlation between violent crime or murder rates and firearms ownership restrictions means that firearms aren't the factor affecting violence and murder?



http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/hosb0212/hosb0212-tabs?view=Binary

CookeMonster
January 13, 2013, 01:44 AM
Fear in Britain, Gallant, Hills, Kopel, Independence Institute, July 18, 2000
Comparing crime rates between America and Britain is fundamentally flawed. In America, a gun crime is recorded as a gun crime. In Britain, a crime is only recorded when there is a final disposition (a conviction). All unsolved gun crimes in Britain are not reported as gun crimes, grossly undercounting the amount of gun crime there.

Crime Figures a Sham, Say Police, Daily Telegraph, April 1, 1996
To make matters worse, British law enforcement has been exposed for falsifying criminal reports to create falsely lower crime figures, in part to preserve tourism.

anchorman
January 13, 2013, 02:13 AM
(although why the UK separated UK:England and Wales from UK: Scotland and UK:Ireland is beyond me).

They in some ways function as separate nations. There is a strong movement for scottish sovereignty/independence, and the disputes in/over northern ireland ought to be obvious to anyone who has even glancingly looked at the news for the last 40 years or so. my understanding is that the union of the united kingdom is somewhat more complicated than most people imagine.

Queen_of_Thunder
January 13, 2013, 10:49 AM
I remember in high school a walk through the parking lot would reveal rifles and shotguns hanging in the back windows of pickup trucks. I can also assure you that those trucks and many other vehicles had pistols in glove boxes and under seats. Yet we had no school shootings. No "gun violence". Heck every male carried a pocket knife as did many of the females yet there was no violence. So what explains these mass killings. Guns? No thats too simplistic and a cop out. Mental illness? Again a cop out in an attempt to find a reason to explain them. So what is the reason.

Could it be we have lost the ability to communicate with each other during a time when our Culture has undergone a huge change. We as a Nation have become the most diverse Nation in the world. Could it be the failure or refusal of recent new comers to this Nation to assimlilate themselves into our Culture. Could it be the diversity itself with so many different cultures living side by side. Maybe its the result poverty,jobs,low education levels. The failure of Law Enforcement and the Judical System to enforce and punish violators of the law. Maybe just maybe its the result of our own failings to just be civil with each other and a lack of respect for the other person.Thats my belief. That is what I expect is causing 90% of our problems.

larryh1108
January 13, 2013, 11:18 AM
To truly understand the numbers and statistics we need to have further filters.

How many murders were because of different cultures? (turf wars, hate crimes, religion vs religion, civil war, etc)

How many were because of true crime? (I want what you have)

How many were domestic? (abuse, divorce, cheating, etc)

How many were alcohol/drug related? (attack vs dialogue)

How many were random acts of violence? (mass killings, etc)

Then to further analyze, how many murders were committed with firearms versus another weapon versus physical power?

I'd venture to guess that the more diverse the ethnicity in a country, the more violence we see. This has gone on for thousands of years and still goes on today. Do the European stats include deaths from the middle east "wars"? Military rule? Milesovic? Aren't these a form of turf wars? Where do these numbers fall?

All I know is that an armed society is a polite society, moreso than unarmed societies. If someone wants to kill, they will find the means to do it. Saying it is about guns is wrong.

couldbeanyone
January 13, 2013, 11:30 AM
If someone could find a way to exclude the murders in the USA that involve the sale of illegal drugs, I think you would find our murder rate is not very high.
The result of outlawing a substance instead of a behavior, is to create a black market with its related crime, turf wars, and deals gone wrong. Now in our genius, our government wants to outlaw another substance (guns) and create another black market.

larryh1108
January 13, 2013, 11:50 AM
The result of outlawing a substance instead of a behavior, is to create a black market with its related crime, turf wars, and deals gone wrong. Now in our genius, our government wants to outlaw another substance (guns) and create another black market.

These 2 sentences sums up very nicely why we can't have any new restrictions. It's so simple that is it should be on the tongue of every American.

jim243
January 13, 2013, 12:04 PM
As a retired accountant, I love to play with statistics, but we are going down a slippery slope when trying to analyze gun crimes by ethnic or national origin.

Based on the information provided, one is lead to believe that 46% of all murders can be stopped by banning blacks from gun ownership, that would not be true. Since there are more people killed by car accidents than guns and more whites that own cars, then we should ban all whites from owning or dirving cars or trucks. Since more females resort to murder by poisoning than males, we should ban all females from food preperation and working in the hospitality field (restaurants). Since most aviation deaths are with male pilots, only females should be allowed to fly planes.

Like I said, statistics are fun, but a very slippery slope.
Jim

Dean Weingarten
January 13, 2013, 12:08 PM
Your conclusion does not follow the data supplied. That some cultural groups have higher murder rates than others, and is independent of gun ownership, shows that weapons bans have no meaningful effect on murder rates.

jim243
January 13, 2013, 12:34 PM
Revealed in the study was a simple breakdown of the demographics of the murderers that is not commonly available. Murderers were divided into three groups. Blacks were the most numerous at 46%. Hispanics were next at 27 percent. Non-Hispanic whites were last at 23 percent.

You provided the post, I didn't and it does give one the impression that this peice of information is important. However a lot of information is left out, like total number of murders (not just gun deaths), murders by type of weapon, how many were self-defense, how many were accidental, how many were officer involved shootings, location of murder (city), type of victim (male or female), national origin of victim, type of weapon used (38 spl, 45 ACP, 9mm).

There is a world of imformation missing in your analysis.

Drawing any conclusions from your information, is indeed a slippery slope.
Jim

Dean Weingarten
January 13, 2013, 12:44 PM
Where do you get the assumption that I am reffering to "gun deaths"? 'Gun Deaths" is a propaganda metric that has no more meaning than "hospital deaths". The article only talks about murder rates, not murders only with guns.

Dean Weingarten
January 13, 2013, 12:53 PM
However a lot of information is left out, like total number of murders (not just gun deaths), murders by type of weapon, how many were self-defense, how many were accidental, how many were officer involved shootings, location of murder (city), type of victim (male or female), national origin of victim, type of weapon used (38 spl, 45 ACP, 9mm).

Murders are not accidental, by definition.

Certainly, there is a world of information. Most of it is not available. The point of the article is that those who claim that guns make the difference between European murder rates and the murder rate in the United States, are simply wrong. Their assertion does not hold up to scrutiny.

jim243
January 13, 2013, 12:57 PM
When the subject is gun control, those who demand more for the United States always point to Europe. Europe, they say, has more gun control than the United States, and lower murder rates.

Their assertion does not hold up to scrutiny

I agree.

Jim

Dean Weingarten
January 13, 2013, 12:59 PM
When the subject is gun control, those who demand more for the United States always point to Europe. Europe, they say, has more gun control than the United States, and lower murder rates.
Yes, exactly.

Dean Weingarten
January 13, 2013, 01:05 PM
Let me try to be a little more direct.

If gun control does not lower total murder rates, then it makes no sense whatsoever. To only use "gun deaths" in any argument about gun control is to make a nonsensical argument.

For example: Millions of people die in hospitals every year. The more hospitals a country has, the more hospital deaths there are.

We can eliminate all hospital deaths by banning hospitals.

Do you see the verbal trick that is played when proponents of gun control only refer to "gun deaths"?

jim243
January 13, 2013, 01:05 PM
Murders are not accidental, by definition

Most are, what you are referring to is premeditated murder (1st degree murder). If I shot someone in self-defese, it is murder just not premeditated.

Jim

Bubba613
January 13, 2013, 01:07 PM
You can look at two different cities in the same state to see the difference: Memphis and Knoxville TN.
Memphis--15.8 per 1000 residents for violent crime.
Knoxville--9.38 per 1k residents for violent crime.
http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/tn/knoxville/crime/

Exactly the same laws in both places. The difference must be cultural.

Dean Weingarten
January 13, 2013, 01:10 PM
Ah, I thought you were referring to accidents. There certainly is a differnce between manslaughter, negligent homicide, and second degree murder, and first degree murder.

I certainly do not have the data to differenciate, especially international data. I do not think anyone does.

Moreover, we cannot know what plea bargains might have been made.

We do have total homicide data, so that is what is most commonly used. I wish we had more data. It would be useful.

Sniper66
January 13, 2013, 01:28 PM
Dean....I applaude your thoughtful post and useful review of data and stats. Anyone who cares to do a bit of study can find plenty of data to demonstrate that gun ownership does not cause violent crime. The intellectually lazy and opportunists (politicians) seize on tragedies to promote radical "solutions" to make themselves feel good and to promote greater government control. Thank you for your contribution to the dialogue.

ArfinGreebly
January 13, 2013, 01:36 PM
Most are, what you are referring to is premeditated murder (1st degree murder). If I shot someone in self-defese, it is murder just not premeditated.

Jim

Incorrect.

Self defense killings are not murders.

They are homicides -- justified homicides -- but not murders.

Dean Weingarten
January 13, 2013, 02:03 PM
You are welcome. I have been looking at this for 40 years, back before the FBI stopped listing Japanese homicides as a seperate category.

That made it clear that culture was far more important, by orders of magnitude, than access to guns.

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