Lie, damn lies, and statistics


OK - I split this off because it really goads me into a response. Which I assume you wanted for bringing up a pedantic point off a post where @nimelennar was just trying to give an example off the top of their head. But not wanting to derail a thread, I made my own. I’m almost never the one who does the first brake tap, but seem to be the one blamed for the pile up. Not this time! Look ma, I’m learning.

Anyway - just arguing your point:

I never ignored the statistics, nor said that they didn’t matter. The implication, suggestion, and rhetoric from many people (maybe not you specifically, but in general this is why people bring this up) is that the only or main reason the US and Europe has such a difference in murder rate and violent crime is its weapon laws.

My main point in response to that is that it is a mix of other things for the reasons of our much higher violent crime and murder rate. Mainly the #1 factor of violent crime is POVERTY. My view is that the main reason the US has more violent crime that much of Europe is because we have more poverty over all, and we have more pockets of deep, hopeless poverty. Our cultural make up and systemic problems are different in the US than anywhere else, so the solution is more complex than just emulating a few laws. And that isn’t to say there aren’t pockets of poverty and crime in Europe. Clearly there are. But evidently the conditions in parts of America are worse than the worst parts of Europe.

Main evidence to support difference in weapons laws are not the reason we have more violence:

  1. Places like the UK and Australia who enacted much more restrictive laws in the 90s, never had NEAR the same amount of violence even before the new laws. Why was that? Canada is basically America Jr, has very similar laws, and again has much less crime than the US. Laws alone aren’t the reason for the difference, as even when they had similar laws, the crime rates were much different.

  2. In the most recent thread the stats per capita was domestic abuse murders, and the NON FIREARM stats were amazingly high compared to most of Europe. So even if the US had the same weapons laws, and had the same rate of firearm domestic abuse murders, the murders caused by knives, blunt instruments, and hands was still astronomically high. Why is that?

  3. And here is the big one - and where it gets hypocritical. You can look up the stats of Central and South America who have literally some of the highest murder rates in the WORLD, and who also have some of the most restrictive weapons laws in the world. Yet I am told that doesn’t count as they aren’t fully developed nations like the US.

You want to talk about “pretending that per-capita statistical comparisons between countries don’t matter because they’re inconvenient to the point being argued.”

If level of economic development and wealth trumps the laws so badly we can’t directly compare them, then maybe, just maybe consider my point that the main problem with violent crime in the US is pockets of areas with lack of wealth and development.

  1. Even with no major weapons law reforms on the federal level, the murder and violent crime rate has been steadily falling since its peak in the 90s. The murder rate is at the same level it was in the early 1960s, back when we had even less restrictive laws (the Gun Control Act of 1968 being the largest gun law bill other than maybe the NFA).

It is LESS THAN HALF what it was in 1991. We reduced the rate by MORE THAN HALF! This tells me it is less about our weapons laws, and more about something else. Perhaps things are getting better in the poorest areas. Our social programs have slowly expanded. There is a possible link between environmental lead and violence as well. But clearly, if we can reduce half of our murders with more or less the same gun laws, it isn’t the laws that is the problem.

So TL;DR - yes Europe has less murders and violence than in the US. No I don’t think weapon laws are the reason for this. Backing this statement up with observations and evidence doesn’t mean I am ignoring that Europe does indeed have less violent crime and murders. It means my analysis as to WHY that is different.


No, I brought it up there because arguing civilly isn’t enough to merit a reward – arguing in good faith should be a factor, too. Given your behaviour in other threads I’d assume you’d agree – I know for a fact that you’re well regarded here in both aspects when you disagree with general consensus … except when it comes gun control issues.

You constantly argued that per-capita comparisons between gun violence were beside the point when it came to the statistics, and instead pointed to the different total population sizes as if that somehow obviated the per-capita comparisons. If you look at those threads you’ll see that I was far from the only one to notice that.

I agree with you that poverty is a factor, probably a big one as you describe it. I’d even allow that its exploitation by the NRA via its race-baiting and support of right-wing economic memes feeds into the dysfunctional regulatory atmosphere.

What I don’t do is bend myself into pretzels to try to claim that the sort of strongly enforced gun laws we see in Western Europe and Canada (as opposed to poorly enforced ones in Central America) is so irrelevant as to be taken off the table as a major contributor to the problem in the U.S. I also recognise the comparative killing and wounding power of freely available firearms (esp. those with high mag capacity, ROFs, and extra-lethal ammo) as compared to that of knives, blunt instruments and hands.

I’m not here to rehash this debate outside the public forums on the topic so I’m ending my participation in this thread right here.


A gun thread.



Actually, its about integrity in internet posts. :wink:


I am not here to rehash the debate per se, but defend or clarify myself for arguing in bad faith.

While my train of thought can get unclear and confusing sometimes in past threads, I don’t recall ever just completely dismissing per capita stats. I recall two main points:

  1. Per capita doesn’t tell the whole story, for reasons outlined there and here. That’s a valid point. Stats alone are meaningless. Hospitals are more likely to kill you than guns - that’s a statistical fact. Should we just accept that at face value and ban them, or apply some thought to it?

  2. The problems and make up America has are different. There are many similarities, but also a lot of differences. The fact of the matter is - 100,000 people aren’t just 100,000 people. 100,000 of the richest people together will have almost no violence. 100,000 of the most desperate and destitute will see a ton of violence. So comparing numbers alone won’t give you a good picture of the WHAT exactly is happening and WHY.

Just like you don’t think comparing the US to Central America is “fair”, maybe I don’t think comparing the US to Europe is completely “fair” either. As I said, I think the US is more third world than we like to admit. Yes we have the very rich, but we also have a lot of very poor. Maybe you disagree that the differences are enough to have that big of an effect, but I don’t think one could claim in good faith there aren’t differences.

At any rate, I don’t think coming to different conclusions, and I try to back those up with a decent amount of evidence, makes me arguing in bad faith.

Or are you one of those people can’t conceive anyone would think different than you, so the only reason they could come to a different conclusion is through bad faith.


Ok then …


Right. You do raise some good points. However, I’d like to say that access to firearms makes suicides cheap and murder-suicides much more so. When Britain eliminated coal-fired stoves, the suicide rate plummeted. Why? Because suicide is an impulsive act. Yes, depression is a factor. But when suicide is easy a much larger percentage of depressives will do it.


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