Misleading Gun Facts


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Desertdog
August 3, 2004, 11:56 PM
Misleading Gun Facts
http://www.lewrockwell.com/edmonds/edmonds215.html

by Brad Edmonds

A particularly gullible member of the public watched Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine, in which Moore apparently (and in keeping with his pattern) blames the existence of guns for gun crimes, and quotes false statistics. This viewer then read one or another of my gun articles, and decided I needed correcting. His thinking is probably common, and some of his misconceptions need to be dispelled, the more so the more common they are.

First, and most telling, the reader told me "there’s only one statistic that needs to be addressed," that being that there are more guns in the US than in Japan, and more gun deaths in the US than in Japan. This kind of thinking makes one’s mind ripe for takeover by such hucksters as Michael Moore. There is never only one statistic that needs to be addressed.

For example, there’s just one statistic that will tell you the US has both the world’s highest per-capita incidence of osteoporosis and the world’s highest per-capita intake of calcium. This one statistic would tell a naïve reader that calcium causes osteoporosis. Our doctors believe just the opposite, and they prescribe calcium to treat osteoporosis. The more likely explanation of our high rates of osteoporosis in the US is that our older women don’t lift a lot of heavy weights. Lifting makes your body demand growth in bone density. People lift things more in other countries as part of their daily activities.

My reader then stated that the only differences between Japan and the United States are "homogeneity and race factors," after which he concluded that the difference in gun deaths is explainable only by the presence of guns. There are other significant differences between the US and Japan, however, that help explain the difference in gun violence.

For one, Japan is officially a gun-free state. While the Japanese enjoy more civil liberties than Americans in many respects, owning a gun legally is beyond the reach of nearly every Japanese citizen. Hence, in Japan, only organized criminals and the police own guns. I would consider this unacceptable.

For another, the US wasn’t a high-crime area until the 1960s, when our courts decided that leniency, understanding, and protecting convicted criminals would reduce crime. Per the Dave Kopel research linked above, Japan is not lenient toward criminals. For another, most gun deaths in the US – 52% – are suicides. The suicide rate in Japan is so much higher than in the US, combining suicides with gun deaths makes the combined rate in Japan actually higher than in the US. Hence, the true gun violence rate, when that violence is directed from one person to another, is not as much higher in the US as raw statistics would lead you to believe.

My reader quoted some numbers that must have come Moore directly – for example, that the gun violence rate is 43,000% higher in the US than in Japan. The UN tells us the US rate is only 8 times higher than Japan’s. Further, crime is on the rise in Japan, while for years in the US it has been falling as city and state governments relax gun-control laws (and local police departments perhaps fudge the statistics a bit, as you’ll see in the news from time to time).

If you could undo the damage done by our judges, undo the difference in culture (Japan has had centuries of often unquestioning obedience to government, while the US has had a few centuries of rugged individualism – now on the wane; and for centuries in Japan, weapons have been owned only by the ruling classes), separate the contaminating effect of suicides, and make gun laws the same in both places, you’d probably find violence rates to be very similar between the two countries.

And every time you relax gun laws, allowing more people to own guns, gun crime will go down – in any country.

This is because all the statistics are driven by ordinary human nature. Given the opportunity to be able to defend themselves and their families, fathers and mothers will take the opportunity, making criminals and government (or do I repeat myself?) less daring in their threats against our lives and property. At the same time, the vast majority of us, in every country, don’t want to go out and commit crimes against others for a living. With these two ordinary, observable facts together, you can bet that in any country, taking guns away from people will result in an increase in ordinary crime and in government oppression. Ultimately, the statistics paint a picture consistent with that.

When you see vast disparities in a single datum between one country and another, nothing as simple as the "presence of guns" will be the explanation. Guns are, after all, completely inanimate. And there is no case in which a single correlation is all you need to know.

This much you can know, however: You are better off when you are allowed to own all the guns you want; and so is your neighbor.

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griz
August 5, 2004, 01:44 PM
Another statistic: Japan has a suicide rate much higher than the US. Can we conclude that their lack of guns causes suicides?

Statistics are fine but unless the conclusions follow logical laws the results are meaningless.

ClonaKilty
August 5, 2004, 09:07 PM
Some more facts from someone (me) who lived & worked in Japan for 6 years. Next time someone starts citing Japan as a model for why citizens should be disarmed, note the following:

* Police in Japan do not need probable cause to stop & search you, your home, car, dog etc. Any time they wish, if they have a "hunch," they can do whatever they wish. Whatever is found is admissable as evidence.

* Police have local residents fill out a form when they move into an area. The form asks your name, where you work, what hours you keep, if you are married, etc.

* Arrested suspects have something near a 99% conviction rate. There are no trials by jury, only judges who decide the guilt or innocence.

Thus, with real police state powers and a virtual 100% conviction rate, is there any wonder why crime is so low? It was low in Saddam's Iraq, too...

Crime in general in Japan is very low. I have left my wallet on the subway and it was turned in, cash intact. Book stores, trinket stores, clothing stores regularly have racks of merchandise on the sidewalk, unattended. People browse through, pick up what they want and go in and pay for it. With very rare exceptions there is no shoplifting. I very rarely heard of car thefts.

Sexual crimes however occur probably much more frequently than in the US, but the victims are almost always too ashamed to press charges. I knew an American woman living on her own, who was being harrased by a local guy. He'd leave porn in her mailbox, stuff like that. She told the police about and they laughed, told her it was just a joke and to ignore it. One night she woke up and saw him standing over her. She screamed and luckily he fled. She called the police and asked if they could do anything; predictably they said no. She said from then on she'd keep a knife by her bed. At that the cop glared at her and said if she did that, he'd arrest her. "This isn't America, you know" he said.

Don Gwinn
August 6, 2004, 01:23 AM
She said from then on she'd keep a knife by her bed. At that the cop glared at her and said if she did that, he'd arrest her. "This isn't America, you know" he said.

[Ugly American]
Yeah, maybe that's the trouble. . . .
[/Ugly American]

Oleg Volk
August 6, 2004, 01:28 AM
Japan's culture produces very neat artifacts. However, it also convinced me to stay well away from their islands, so long as I can't show up in style as Perry did. That was also a lesson to the vistors -- Japanese police aren't their friends and should not be informed of anything.

Jeff
August 6, 2004, 02:20 AM
Japan is also one of the most racist, xenophobic nations in existence.

They have no "tower of babel" problems there; just ask the Koreans.

insidious_calm
August 6, 2004, 03:29 AM
..Switzerland has a VERY low crime rate too. Comaparable to that Japan. They are also the single most heavily armed CIVILIAN populace in the world. Bar none. They ride the train there with full autos over their shoulders. Oh to be a swiss....


I.C.

ClonaKilty
August 6, 2004, 07:46 AM
As an addendum: with my post, I didn't mean to bash Japan, just point out "the other side of the story" that anti-self defense crowd doesn't seem to know. I truly enjoyed my time in Japan, and look forward to going back whenever I can. Yes they can be very racist & xenophobic but Japanese also are quite interested in things going on outside their islands. Sometimes this is not the case in my beloved homeland, America.

Oleg, I hear you and understand your viewpoint but there is always something to be learned from travelling to / living in very different cultures, especially when said nations are overall very safe. :)

Daemon688
August 7, 2004, 04:20 AM
Statistics are great and all but they mean nothing unless people can tell where they came from, how the data was collected, etc. Random numbers comming out of some know it all is just BS to me.

iapetus
August 7, 2004, 07:18 PM
Daemon688

Statistics are great and all but they mean nothing unless people can tell where they came from, how the data was collected, etc.

As my maths teacher used to tell me: 100% of people who breath oxygen die.

R.H. Lee
August 7, 2004, 07:44 PM
99.9% of all people who die in the U.S. have handled or been exposed to a product made in Japan. Japanese products cause death.

90% of all people who die are under a doctors care. Doctors cause death.

etc., et yada, et nauseum.

Stand_Watie
August 7, 2004, 11:34 PM
..Switzerland has a VERY low crime rate too. Comaparable to that Japan.

Yes, but even though Switzerland has 1/2 the homicide rate of England/Wales and 1/5th the robbery rate, %wise more of the robberies and murders are committed with firearms (2000 data) - that makes them worse you know:scrutiny: :scrutiny:

reagansquad
August 7, 2004, 11:43 PM
Actually, the rise in crime in the US correlates perfectly with the drug war. Wasted resources stopping burnouts from getting high leads to a decrease in resources put towards stopping violent criminals. Higher drug prices cause hardcore addicts to have to turn to criminal means to get their fix.. etx.

Desertdog
August 8, 2004, 02:05 AM
Actually, the rise in crime in the US correlates perfectly with the drug war.
The rise in crime also correlates to the increased gun laws with the crime rate dropping where gun laws are relaxed. For some reason VT kept their no resrrictions on who could carry and has always had very low crime rates.

With that in mind, are you SURE the crime in the US correlates perfectly with the drug war, and not with the tightening of the gun laws?

reagansquad
August 8, 2004, 02:33 AM
I'd personally say it's BOTH. :)

reagansquad
August 8, 2004, 02:36 AM
I'd personally say it's BOTH. :)

And that 'decrease' is a decrease as compared to the national average. Its still an overall increase.

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