Friday, April 20, 2007

More facts on gun violence ...

... from James Q. Wilson: Gun control isn't the answer.

In 2000, the rate at which people were robbed or assaulted was higher in England, Scotland, Finland, Poland, Denmark and Sweden than it was in the United States. The assault rate in England was twice that in the United States. In the decade since England banned all private possession of handguns, the BBC reported that the number of gun crimes has gone up sharply.
Some of the worst examples of mass gun violence have also occurred in Europe. In recent years, 17 students and teachers were killed by a shooter in one incident at a German public school; 14 legislators were shot to death in Switzerland, and eight city council members were shot to death near Paris. The main lesson that should emerge from the Virginia Tech killings is that we need to work harder to identify and cope with dangerously unstable personalities.It is a problem for Europeans as well as Americans, one for which there are no easy solutions — such as passing more gun control laws.
More here and here.


  1. Anonymous5:18 PM

    So what is the point here? that people should be allowed to buy guns? This kind of article sure isn't going to to convince me, for me it is an ethical/moral issue.

    The countries you mention are far less violent, and have far fewer gun-related crimes and accidents, than the USA. Also far less of a gun culture, whether good ol' boy or glamourised. Guns are just not in the mainstream in Europe, Britain in particular, in the way that they are your way.

  2. I have no idea what the facts and figures are in relation to gun crime in Europe, but my overall impression would tally with what you say, Maxine. In Ireland, there has certainly been an increase in gun-violence and gun-related crime in recent years, but this is very much confined to the criminal underworld. In my view, it seems perverse to suggest that the risk posed by someone with mental health problems is not significantly increased by guns being as freely available as they would appear to be in parts of the USA.

  3. Hi Europeans,

    You need to go state by state for the particular gun laws. Think about France telling England how to do things--and it's not that you wouldn't learn from each other. We in Massachusetts are not going to tell Virginians how to do things.

    To go a step further, Cho would not have received a weapon so easily in Massachusetts. If they want to look at our (surely flawed) system for ideas--good.

    Also, bear in mind, no one is going to disarm Americans. If anyone--legally or illegally, above ground or underground, foreign or native, tall or short, crazy or sane--can have a gun, I have the right to bear arms. Period.


  4. Anonymous11:39 PM

    I lived in Europe for two years some years ago, but I'm not so sure that there is less violence there today when I consider the riots in France and the bombers in England and Spain.

    In defense of the U.S. gun culture, I wonder if anyone has ever held up a bar or fast food place in West Texas?

    Like the proverbial good ole boys down there, I refuse to be a crime victim. I carry a firearm to protect myself and my family.

    If I, or someone like me, had been at Virginia Tech, a good number of kids would be alive today. I wonder how many students and teachers had legal firearms locked in their glove departments as the school does not permit firearms in the school?

    The guns were locked in the cars because they followed the rules. The killer did not. There is the rub concerning gun controls.

    Perhaps for some of the victims, their final thought was, "I wish I had my gun."

    I recall another crazed killer who stalked the passengers on a Long Island train some years ago. The mad killer walked up and down the car, calmly shooting and killing his defensless, cowering victims. If only one passenger had been armed, he or she could have fought back and saved lives.

    Our gun culture has kept America free and strong.

    So be advised - -if you shoot at me, I'll shoot back.

    Paul Davis