Cautionary Tale Update – Crime in the UK

January 26, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

Shortly after the Newtown massacre the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed claiming that Britain and Australia provided “Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control.”  In 1998, the UK passed a very strict gun law.  The author of the WSJ piece, Joyce Lee Malcolm, concluded: 
Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is.
The actual crime data on those two countries told a different, less cautionary tale (see my blog post). 

The data from 2012 (September 2011 to September 2012) are now in, and the results must be puzzling (maybe even disappointing) to Ms. Malcolm, the NRA, and other gunlovers. 
  • The murder rate was down by 10%. 
  • The murder rate was lower than in any year since 1978.
  • Gun crime was down by 17%, knife crime by 11%. 
  • Most other crimes – robbery, burglary, and vehicle-related crimes – were also down. *
* The report is based on crimes recorded by the police.  It’s possible that the actual number of crimes was unchanged or even higher but that for some reason the police in 2012 decided to be less diligent about recording them.  That seems doubtful, but we must wait for the data from the victimization survey to be sure.  The data on murder, however, are accurate.  Even the most unscrupulous precinct cannot ignore a murder or downgrade it to an assault.

The Guardian story on the crime data is here

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