U.K., New Zealand & Australia: higher rates of violent crime than the U.S.

Whenever gun control advocates talk about the need to civilize American society and finally do something about the proliferation of guns, they inevitably will point to the U.K. and Australia as places where gun bans have worked. This common misconception is spurred on by charts and statistics showing a lower rate of gun homicides in these countries than in the U.S. But that is not the whole story. While it is true that since gun bans have been implemented in those two countries the rate of gun homicides has gone down, both countries have seen steadily increasing crime rates since. At the same time the U.S. has been seeing steadily decreasing crime rates, while access to guns for protection inside the home and concealed carry has become easier for the law abiding citizen.

If you go to the website nationmaster.com, they have a database engine that can compare and contrast crime rates from different countries. For instance, if you click on this link http://www.nationmaster.com/compare/United-Kingdom/United-States/Crime, you will see a database comparison of crime rates between the UK and the US. Many of the statistics compiled are not per capita, so be careful when comparing raw numbers head to head which don’t take into account massive population size disparities. What I found most interesting is their calculations at the bottom of the page concerning the total percentage of crime victims relative to the total population. Here is the 20 country list:

The entire list can be seen here: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_tot_cri_vic-crime-total-victims

# 1   Australia: 30.1%
# 2   New Zealand: 29.4%
# 3   United Kingdom: 26.4%
# 4   Netherlands: 25.2%
# 5   Sweden: 24.7%
# 6   Italy: 24.6%
# 7   Canada: 23.8%
# 8   Saint Kitts and Nevis: 23.2%
# 9   Malta: 23.1%
# 10   Denmark: 23%
# 11   Poland: 22.7%
= 12   Belgium: 21.4%
= 12   France: 21.4%
# 14   Slovenia: 21.2%
# 15   United States: 21.1%
# 16   Finland: 19.1%
# 17   Austria: 18.8%
# 18   Switzerland: 18.2%
# 19   Portugal: 15.5%

Although we need to be careful when making broad generalizations and falling into the correlation = causation fallacy, I think there are some simple observations we can extract from this data:

  1. All of the countries that have higher rates of crime than the United States, also have stricter gun laws or gun prohibitions in place.
  2. Some of the countries with lower rates of crime than the United States, most notably Switzerland, have similar rates of gun ownership as the U.S.
  3. The top three countries with the highest percentage of crime victims have nationwide gun bans in effect.

Again, I must re-emphasize that correlation does not necessarily mean causation, and there are many other factors that play a role in crime and crime statistics, such as the demographics of the population, effectiveness of law enforcement and government security apparatuses, societal values, religious and cultural conflicts, the effect of popular culture on youth, the availability of illicit drugs and narcotics, etc.

That being said, it is worth noting, and very interesting to me that the top three countries on the list are countries where guns are banned or severely restricted, and that no country on the top 10 list has a similar amount of gun ownership and accessibility as we do in the U.S. So unless you are a small island nation with a homogenous population like Japan, I guess the old saying is true- “An armed society is a polite society”.

2 Responses to “U.K., New Zealand & Australia: higher rates of violent crime than the U.S.”

  1. Jake G. | December 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    “There is no social benefit in decreasing the availability of
    guns if the result is only to increase the use of other means of
    suicide and murder, resulting in more or less the same
    amount of death. Elementary as this point is, proponents of
    the more guns equal more death mantra seem oblivious to it.
    One study asserts that Americans are more likely to be shot
    to death than people in the world’s other 35 wealthier nations.
    46 While this is literally true, it is irrelevant—except,
    perhaps to people terrified not of death per se but just death
    by gunshot. A fact that should be of greater concern—but
    which the study fails to mention—is that per capita murder
    overall is only half as frequent in the United States as in several
    other nations where gun murder is rarer, but murder by
    strangling, stabbing, or beating is much more frequent.”

    Don B. Kates & Gary Mauser PhD

  2. IL Tactical Mod | December 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    We see the mainstream media arguing constantly: “Why it’s so difficult to admit that the more guns the more homicides???” Well lets take a look at homicide rates in Europe.

    In Russia all guns are banned, and their murder rate is 20.54 per 100,000 people. In neighboring Finland and Norway, guns are allowed and their murder rates are 1.98 and 0.81, respectively.

    In Luxembourg, where all guns are banned, the murder rate is 9.01 per 100,000 while in neighboring France and Germany where firearms are allowed, their murder rates are 1.65 and 0.93, respectively.

    In Belarus, where guns are banned, the murder rate is 10.40 per 100,000 whereas Poland and Belgium allow guns and their murder rates are 1.98 and 1.70, respectively.

    So it would appear that in fact more guns = less murder, and less guns = more murder.

    Homicide data from CANADIAN CENTRE FOR JUSTICE STATISTICS, HOMICIDE IN CANADA, JURISTAT.

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