That’s the idea posed by this post, by one Dan Mitchell, and it’s the idea that I’ll be dissecting today. Can more guns lead to less crime?
Back in 2013, I shared a snarky post comparing murder rates in Chicago and Houston. What made the data amusing is that any sensible person would look at Chicago’s high murder rate and strict gun control and conclude that perhaps, just maybe, such policies don’t work.
But the post speculated that a left-wing social scientist would instead conclude that “cold weather causes murder.”
Today, let’s take a more serious look at the issue.
Here’s a great video, narrated by Bill Whittle, that looks at gun ownership rates and murder rates. As you can see, America is the number one nation for gun ownership, but we’re nowhere near the top in murder rates.
Having had many arguments with leftists, I can tell you that their response to this video will be to point out that America has one of the highest murder rates if you look solely at developed nations.
That’s true, but this is why the most persuasive data in the video comes near the end when Bill looks at murder rates by major metropolitan areas.
He shows that pro-gun control cities have very high murder rates, whereas heavily armed, pro-gun places such as Plano, TX, have murder rates lower than some of the most tranquil places on the planet.
And although Bill doesn’t make the connection, it’s very much worth noting that Switzerland is one of the world’s most heavily armed nations, yet the murder rate is extremely low.
Moreover, there were no murders in the most recent years for which data are available in Monaco and Liechtenstein, yet I’ve been told during visits to both principalities that there is widespread private gun ownership.
Gee, maybe John Lott is right about more guns leading to less crime.
P.S. Since we’re sharing good news on guns, here’s a heartwarming story about civil disobedience. But this isn’t about civil disobedience solely by gun owners, as we’ve seen in Connecticut.
Let’s start from the top. Urban areas, are they safer with or without guns? Among US cities, St. Louis has more murders per 100,000 people (64.54) than any other US city. Baltimore is next on 58.64 murders per 100,000 people. In third place is San Juan, with 54.01 murders per 100,000 people. Missouri, the State in which St. Louis resides, has some of the weakest gun control laws of any US State. Maryland (where Baltimore resides) is better, and Puerto Rico (host to San Juan) is quite slack. Detroit, fourth among US cities for murders, has a rate of 40.74 murders per 100,000 people, and Michigan, the State upon which Detroit sits in, has inconsistent gun laws. All figures are based on 2019.
Whilst the following is from 2018 and therefore the numbers are slightly askew, it’s interesting to see how even some of the safest US cities compare with cities in other parts of the world. In 2018 London had a murder rate of 1.8 per 100,000 people. New York City had a murder rate of 3.4 per 100,000 people. To put it another way, you were twice as likely to be murdered in New York than in London.
Dan goes on to mention countries (or principalities) that have high private gun ownership, but neglects to mention that these nations have consistent national gun control laws and restrictions on the types of firearms and ammunition that are available. There are also restrictions on the quantities of firearms. A good example of a society with plenty of guns yet also plenty of control measures is Germany, which is far safer than the USA. Meanwhile, murders are much lower on a national basis in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Australia and Japan than the USA, and no two countries practice the same sort of gun laws. Japan has a near zero-tolerance policy towards guns and is one of the safest societies on the planet.
Part of the issue is that where there are inconsistent gun control laws, people can cross State lines and suddenly put themselves in a position to get hold of these deadly weapons with ease. It’s also all too easy to transport these weapons across State lines without consequences.
Pro-gun forces will say we need to look at crimes other than murder (though murder is certainly one of the most serious crimes and guns are designed solely to kill, making murder the most obvious metric to measure the impact of guns in society). In a subsequent post, I’ll look at whether other forms of violent crime are lessened by the presence of guns, or whether the presence of guns actually makes no difference.