Little red markers

Two more horrible murders up the road in New Cross have once again brought out the worst in the internet’s commentators – see the remarks under this Times article, for instance:

You guys don’t get it. We are laughing at you for banning guns and a whole host of other forms of defence. If these two frenchmen had guns they would be alive, period.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear of a nasty crime in a foreign country my first impulse isn’t, generally, to laugh at the circumstances that might have caused it. Also, I’d suggest that anyone who’s ever picked up a pen or sat down at a keyboard to type an idiotic comment or equally idiotic article on how the UK’s gun control system encourages crime rather than preventing it should take a look at the Baltimore Sun’s interactive murder map:

Each red dot is a person shot dead

Each red dot denotes somebody shot dead in 2008.

Incidentally, the Telegraph article linked above concludes with a fairly typical prediction of the “crime may be lower in the UK now, but just you wait for the surge that’s around the corner” variety:

In 1981, the US [murder] rate was nine times higher than the English. By 1995, it was six times. Last year, it was down to 3.5. Given that US statistics, unlike the British ones, include manslaughter and other lesser charges, the real rate is much closer. New York has just recorded the lowest murder rate since the 19th century. I’ll bet that in the next two years London’s murder rate overtakes it.

This is quite a clever move, as at the time of publication there’s no way to refute the argument other than to say “we’ll have to wait and see”. Fortunately this article was written in 2003, so we’re now in a position to find out if the author was right.

Murders in London, 05-06: 168 (source: Met Police). Incidents of “murder and nonnegligent manslaughter” (please read and digest the definition of manslaughter in English law before complaining about this) in New York City, 2005: 539 (source: FBI). London population in 2005: 7,517,700 (source: GLA). New York City population in 2006 (2005 figures not listed): 8,214,426 (source: NYC city planning). So, estimated murder rate in London, 2005: one per 44,748 people. In NYC: one per 15,240 people. Or to put it another way: the murder rate in the major city without gun control is 2.94x higher.

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