Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pierce Morgan Statistical Cherry Picking

Piers Morgan keeps citing his, "Only 35 people are killed by firearms a year in Great Britain." It is a great example of cherry picking a statistic, since he is only focusing on one section of violent crime, and conveniently ignoring the fact that knives are the preferred murder weapon of choice, and he is skewing the statistics, using all gun homicide deaths rather than just deaths by rifles, to try and make assault rifles out as the problem.  Sprinkle in some emotional rhetoric about not wanting to see children killed, as if we gun right supporters don't want that, and you got a compelling argument for those who are ignorant of guns and the actual statistics.

I am going to do the same, twisting the statistics, however, unlike Mr. Morgan, I am telling you up front what I am doing. I will take the number of deaths recorded in the FBI's UCR that can knowingly be attributed to rifles and coming up with a per population statistic. I will then be comparing it to the firearm homicide rate of Great Britain. Now I tried to get the data from their equivalent to the FBI, but their data services are terrible compared to ours. I am sure I could find a specific breakdown of homicides with firearms, but it isn't as easy to find, and for my purposes I don't need it. Unfortunately I will use wikipedia to find the homicide statistic I need.

This says that in 2009 Great Britain had a firearm homicide rate of .07 per 100,000 people. There will be some mix and match here as I will be using data from the FBI UCR of 2011.  Rifle homicides in 2011 were 323 and divide that by the population estimate and multiply that by 100,000 and you get .10.  So yes, our rifle homicide rate is higher than Britain's gun homicide rate but not that much higher, and it is lower than France, which had a firearm homicide rate of .22 per 100,000.

Now of course there will be individuals crying foul that I am only looking at rifle homicides. But that is the point. The vast majority of gun homicides in America are committed with a hand gun, and Piers Morgan isn't arguing for a hand gun ban, yet, but he is (mis)using that data to forward his case to ban assault rifles. If you looked at assault rifles alone you realize that it isn't the issue that Pierce Morgan makes it out to be.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.