British Gun Crime up 242 Percent; Post Says 'Laws Seen As Curbing Attacks'

April 24th, 2007 1:06 PM

Update below jump with related items from NewsBusters.

This morning, NewsBusters contributing editor Dan Gainor brought this Washington Post article to my attention:

"Britain's Gun Laws Seen as Curbing Attacks"

But the problem is that while anti-gun activists recited those talking points in Post foreign service correspondent Mary Jordan's April 24 story, the empirical evidence shows otherwise.

The number of crimes in which a handgun was used in England and Wales has risen from 299 in 1995 to 1,024 last year. Offenses committed with all types of firearms, including air guns, have also increased.

That's an increase of 725 gun crimes in 11 years, a 242 percent increase. Britain already had strict gun control before the 1996 Dunblane, Scotland, school shooting, and in 1997 both Conservative and Labour governments pushed through fresh gun control legislation banning small caliber handguns.

Jordan did note that gun fatalities are down at just 50 deaths in the U.K. last year from 55 in 1995, yet Jordan carefully inserted a caveat earlier in the same paragraph.

"According to government statistics, the number of people killed by guns has essentially stayed the same, with dips and spikes, as before the 1997 gun control laws went into effect," she wrote.

"Dips and spikes?" Perhaps like the spike in total homicides in England and Wales in the years following the 1997 gun laws? Homicides peaked at over 1,000 in the 2002-3 survey period. The number has since fallen to just above 1997-8 levels.

What about the oft-repeated meme that gun-free Britain is much less violent than the United States? Jordan doesn't raise that meme per se, but neither does she compare apples to apples. Has Britain historically been less violent, more violent, or similarly violent per capita to the United States? Jordan doesn't say.

The better comparison, in fact, is if Britain has become more or less violent since the 1997 gun laws.

The notion that it's become less violent doesn't wash according to data from the British government.

What about "possession of weapons." Surely arrests for illegal weapons is on a downward trend, right?


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