Guns in Britain? No thanks…

Recently Breitbart News, an outlet in the USA well-known for some iffy far-right views, has tackled the issue of guns and gun violence in the UK. Now, this article doesn’t explicitly say that the UK should get more guns as a result, but you can see where it’s going – gun crime is a problem, but is it wise for this outlet, given its associations, to even hint that guns will make things better?

I’ve written about guns and gun crime before – and whilst I am willing to concede that the situation is more nuanced that a case of ‘guns = higher rate of violence’, there is nonetheless a consistent pattern, and it’s a pattern sustained over a period of years. Take for example the USA – a country with a complicated relationship with firearms.

In 2018 there were 14,123 documented murders. Of these, 10,265 involved a firearm of some description. Over 72% of all murders in the USA involved a firearm.

For the year ending March 2019, there were 671 murders in the UK, and there were 33 recorded deaths by firearm (note that this does not mean murders by firearm, but if we proceed on that basis, we’ll compare the percentage). That’s a percentage of 4.9%

Finding precise rates of homicide that are completely up to date can be a challenge, given that different countries record this in different ways, and some don’t report at all, but there is data for 2017 that compares the UK and USA, and the homicide rates per 100,000 people – the USA has a rate of 5.3, and the UK has a rate of 1.2. France (just to add another comparison, and a country that has taken a different approach to guns to either the US or UK) has a rate of 1.3. Germany has a rate of 1, Spain a rate of 0.7, Korea 0.6, and Japan 0.2.

What all the countries listed have in common, aside from the USA, is the presence of consistent nationwide laws regarding firearms, even if those laws should differ. Now, it may not be entirely fair to say this is entirely because of guns and gun control, but equally, to dismiss the idea that access to firearms (weapons which are after all designed to kill and to kill easily) has no bearing on homicide rates is wilful ignorance.

Here’s a scary statistic – the total combined homicide rates, as of 2017, for the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Korea and Japan add up to 5, less than the US rate. Again, there are cultural factors at play here (some of which happen to involve how guns are viewed), but again, to dismiss access to deadly weapons as a non-entity with this is to be deliberately ignorant.

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