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A view of US gun crime from the other side of the Atlantic

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I think the view from the inside is far worst, Bruin. The reasons behind gun ownership are varied, but here's a particularly ignorant look at why people think guns are important:


Nothing says celebrating the birth of Jesus like massive firepower in one family. No parents in their right mind should allow their kids to play with the children in this family. But then we all realize that the parents in Michele Fiore's family are responsible for the way their kids appear in this Christmas greeting.

Gun ownership is a political statement in many states and the latest round of Republican candidates running for office support that gun toting mob. Of course in recent polls it seems the voters behind these candidates are among the undereducated, no surprise there:


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Mark Twain is credited with the great quote about statistics: "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics." The BBC, normally among my most trusted news sources, has certainly mucked this batch up.

For starters, their stats come from a wide number of sources, and seem to be cherry picked in an effort to put things in their most ominous light. Going to a single source, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate) gives us a more level view.

Here we find that the total all-cause homicide rate in the UK is 1 person in 100,000 each year (653 in 2011) compared to the US rate of 3.8 persons per 100,000 (12,253 in 2013). Clearly, much worse in the US.

But the BBC then quotes a separate group, Politifact, as citing 1.4 million US firearm deaths in the 43-year period of 1968-2011, an average of 32,558 US gun fatalities alone per year. This number suddenly dropped by more than 20,000 per year by 2013? Somebody's numbers are way off.

So staying with the UNODC figures cited by the BBC, it claims the gun death rate as 30 times that of the UK. No argument there. But the UNODC states the US murder rate is only 3.8 times that of the UK. So a Britisher is almost 10 times more likely to be stabbed, strangled, bludgeoned, or poisoned to death than his American counterpart. Not surprisingly, there is a group of British doctors who've advocated removing kitchen knives from British homes. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4581871.stm)

Are there too many gun deaths in the US? Definitely. But bandying about statistical comparisons gets to be rather meaningless. After all, in the same UNODC report you'll discover that the overall homicide rate in Greenland is 19.4 per 100,000, or more than 5 times that of the United States. Must be all those glaciers. Perhaps a dose of global warming would help out the surviving Greenlanders.

It seems like a good year to vacation at home.

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