[extropy-chat] FWD [forteana] Gun control [was Re: the roadtohell]

Steve Davies Steve365 at btinternet.com
Sun Apr 4 17:20:52 UTC 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Lorrey" <mlorrey at yahoo.com>
To: "ExI chat list" <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Sent: Sunday, April 04, 2004 5:06 PM
Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] FWD [forteana] Gun control [was Re: the

> --- Steve Davies <Steve365 at btinternet.com> wrote:
> > In response to this the British Crime Survey was started in 1981.
> > It is the result of a survey carried out every other year by the
> > Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, of a large and
> > representative sample of the general public. The basic question
> > is "Have you personally been the victim of a crime in the
> > last 12 months ?" Might explain why homicide isn't there? :)
> Homicide victims include more than just the dead person, family members
> are also victims, as they've been robbed of their family member.

Sorry I was being facetious - the BCS does ask if you or someone in your
household has been the victim of a crime.
> > The figures from the BCS are actually more accurate than the Home
> > Office stats because they are less affected by the 'Dark Figure'
> > problem.
> No, not really. The state steals my money every week as 'taxes'. To me
> that is theft, and therefore a crime. The state doesn't think so. I
> would report it as a crime on such a survey if given a chance, one
> theft for each paycheck. Similarly, anti-capital types would claim they
> were ripped off by various commercial enterprises. In Britain, in
> particular, if you prevent a robber from stealing your property, he
> will report your act as 'stealing' from him. If you defended yourself
> from a criminal, your act of defense is reported by the criminal in
> crime surveys as a 'crime'.
> The Survey asks if you THINK you were a victim of a crime. It does
> nothing to test the perception of crime for validity.

That's true. For some crimes that is a serious problem (domestic violence is
a case in point) and can lead to substantial under reporting in the BCS. For
most crimes however the impact of this kind of thing is trivial. I wish more
people did report their PAYE deductions as theft but sadly not many people
take that view. In the overwhelming majority of cases reported to the BCS
there's no doubt about the status of the incident. Clearly crime
victimisation surveys are not perfect but they do give a better picture of
the real underlying rate of crime than the stats produced by the criminal
justice system because they are much less affected by the 'dark figure'
> Now, what I find so incredibly amusing here, is that you are asserting
> the greater validity of a crime survey vs reported crime indexes, when
> you, and those others claiming British crime has gone down, do not
> attach similar credence to crime surveys conducted here in the US WRT
> defensive gun use. Surveys show 2-2.5 million defensive gun uses per
> year. If you are going to demand one survey is accurate, you must
> accept that the other is also accurate.

I do accept that such surveys are accurate - I never said I didn't. I teach
a course on historical criminology and one of the classes is about surveys
of that kind and what they show about the deterrent effect of widespread gun
ownership. I hope I manage to shake up some of the preconceptions of my
students (including the American exchange students btw). I'm also not
arguing British crime rates are going down, my point is that while some
kinds of crime have declined there's been a sharp rise in other kinds, above
all violent crime and that this is in very large part due to the way the CJS
has made self-defence more difficult.

> Another amusing thing is the whole point you are missing:
> If the British Crime Index crime rates are already 2-8 times higher
> than those here in New Hampshire, and BCS crime rates are 2-3 times
> higher than Index crimes, and even with a moderate drop in BCS crime
> rates, they are still MANY times higher than rates here in NH, then it
> only REINFORCES my original point.

I was well aware of that - that was my point, that when you take the BCS
figures the rise in violent crime is even sharper than in the official
stats. You would expect crime survey figures to be higher than official CJS
figures because of the way the 'dark figure'problem affects the latter. The
degree to which they're higher will depend upon the reporting rate for the
crime in question. Reporting rates for some crimes (e.g. car theft) are
about 99% because of insurance requirements but the rate for assault is much
lower (it's below 50%) so you'd expect the BCS figures to be much higher -
and they are.
> > The nonsense Mike refers to of counting all crimes perpetrated by
> > one offender on a given day as a single crime (so long as they're
> > in the same 'class' - there are five 'classes') stopped this year,
> > in response to pressure from the EU (that's why there appears to
> > be a big increase in certain types of crime in the last six months).
> I counted 2003 statistics. The Home Office only stopped this policy in
> Jan, 2004.
> > It wasn't new, the Home Office has been recording crime in this
> > daft way since the 1920s. If you look at the more accurate BCS
> > figures the pattern is that there has been a decline in most kinds
> > of property crime since 1995.
> The property crime rate there is still many times higher than it is
> here.

 This is true - there's been a very steep decline in property crime
throughout the US since the early 1990s, plus the increase in per capita
property crime rates in Britain in roughly 1980-1993 was very steep.

> > However there has been a big rise in violent crime over the same
> > period (proportionally it remains the case that the great majority of
> > crime is property offences of various kinds). As well as a big rise
> in
> > homicide, there's been an even bigger one in common assault,
> > aggravated assault, assault and battery, wounding and robbery.
> > Britain's per capita rates for these kinds of crime are now higher
> > than the US rates and much higher than the rates for historically
> > low crime regions such as New England.
> Northern New England, sir. Crime rates in New York, Massachusetts and
> Rhode Island are on par with other high gun control areas of the US.
> NH, VT, and ME crime rates have been lower than our neighbors for a
> very specific reason.

I was thinking of the nineteenth and early twentieth century actually when I
said historically. Is New York a part of New England btw? I thought it was
usually put into the "mid atlantic" category.

> > Part of this is cyclical - violent crime rises during periods of
> > economic growth and declines during slumps (property crime has the
> > opposite pattern) but the increase is well above the historic trend.
> > Another reason is the disastrous effects of the 'War on drugs' -
> > the case in Salford may have been a 'business dispute' - we had a
> > fatal shooting of that kind just around the corner from where I
> > live, a couple of streets away. The other reason is the one alluded
> > to, not so much control of guns (that has been strict ever since
> > it was introduced in 1922)
> While registration was instituted in 1922 (which coincides with the
> beginning of the great rise in violent and property crime in Britain
> all through the 20th century), it is the near-total gun ban instituted
> in the mid 1990's, as well as the policy that makes it a crime to
> defend one's self, even in one's home, with what limited firearms are
> available, that have resulted in the truly significant rise in reported
> crime. The rise in reported crime also includes law abiding people
> defending themselves who are criminalized by the system.

It wasn't registration that was introduced in 1922 (via the Firearms Act)
but really tight controls on gun ownership. Joyce Malcolm gives a very good
account of the debate (and the history of firearms ownership in Britain more
generally) in her book "Guns and Violence". There were several other laws
that made the controls even tighter long before the 1990s.  Despite this gun
ownership (as tracked by licenses) actually rose up to the banning of
handgun ownership after the "Dunblane Massacre". It would probably have
risen even more had the controlls not been in place. IMO if firearms were
widely owned the level of many crimes would be substantially less than it
is. However, the problem is wider than just ownership of firearms, it's the
more basic problem of the desire of legal professionals to restrict self
defense of any kind to vanishing point. The rise in crime in twentieth
century Britain actually starts about 1957 - up to then the rates are fairly
stable (with up and down fluctuations associated with the two World Wars)
following a big decline 1850-1900 and particularly 1870-1900.
> I would say that the likely cause of the dovetailing of reported vs
> survey crime rates in Britain is likely a result of the ubiquitous
> surveillance being instituted: a crime recorded by police on video is
> definitely going to be reported by the police, if only to help increase
> next year's budget, while a property owner who is surrendered to the
> total lack of respect for private property in Britain won't report an
> unobserved theft because he or she knows the police will never do
> anything to retreive his or her property, and may even cite the
> property owner for not properly securing his or her property, thus
> 'abetting' crime.

This is very true. There is little point in reporting many crimes to the
police because it leads to nothing but hassle and paperwork. Many are
reported only because insurance companies won't pay out unless you can quote
a crime report number.

> > as the way the historic right of self-defense has
> > been construed in ever more limited terms in the last ten years,
> > regardless of what you use. The pressure for this does NOT come
> > from politicians btw, it comes from the professionals of the CJS
> > (lawyers, judges, prosecutors, police). The final factor is the
> > unbelievable ineptitude and incompetence of
> > the police and other law enforcement agencies. You would not believe
> > how bad it is until you've experienced it yourself.
> I believe it. Our police are bad enough here. This is why we are,
> hopefully, going to strip them of the authority to control and be aware
> of who can carry concealed. They can't even administer the licensing
> process legally as it is today.
> "Police are not required to know the law." - Judge Cirone, Lebanon
> District Court, NH, September, 2003
> =====
> Mike Lorrey
> Chairman, Free Town Land Development
> "Live Free or Die, Death is not the Worst of Evils."
>                                        - Gen. John Stark
> Sado-Mikeyism: http://mikeysoft.zblogger.com
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