As Jeff Goldstein recently discussed, the relative number of homicides to population in the UK (as represented by England and Wales, for which the Home Secretary's office keeps records) has increased by about 50% over the last hundred years, despite a series of increasingly stringent gun laws, whereas the murder rate in the US over the same period has declined by over a third. The US rate still is (appallingly) 4 times what it is in the UK, its rise or fall seems to have somewhat little to do with the legal availability of guns. This blogger estimates the percentage of gun crimes committed by the legal purchasers of the firearms used at about 6%. Considering how sparsely populated some of the US was in 1910, 'frontier justice' might have been expected in a lot of parts of the country, and considering how easy it might have been to get away with dumping a body in those less populated locales, it's easy to imagine that the real murder rate might have been considerably higher at the time than statistics reveal. People who went missing would in many cases have simply been presumed to have moved elsewhere, or, in the case of children, to have run away.
Obviously, this is a complex issue, but Annenberg's has a remarkably even-handed FactCheck post on the issues, here, that even mentions that the CDC includes in their numbers cases of justified self-defense homicides in their statistics. Back in 2004, California actually considered penalty enhancements for stealing guns, since so many of them obtained in those ways end up being used in other crimes, which surprises no one. Guns do need to be removed from the hands of criminals, but criminals are the last people who will worry about such laws, unless they're as draconian as they should be, perhaps. At any rate, just about nobody's talking anymore about how to take guns out of the hands of criminals except by disarming law-abiding citizens, and whereas police are used to cultivating informants to drop dimes on drug dealers, and state and federal governments offers whistleblower protections and rewards for information on 'white collar' crimes, local efforts to drain the swamp are generally limited to buy-back programs. Cory Booker's program is an outlier, and seems at least worth a try. As government gun grabbing proposals drive up the value of guns and ammo, criminals who have them are less likely ever to want to part with them, and will take more risks to acquire them. I wonder whether it's ever occurred to anyone at the INS that it might be a good idea summarily to deport any illegal aliens caught with unregistered weapons. At the present time, this is a deportable offense—but this is also a time in which illegal immigrants are invited by to the SOTU, and the DHS made only one public charge deportation last year and keeps no statistics on how many immigrants become dependents.
I mean, give peace a chance, yeah? License and tax the manufacture, sale, distribution and possession of 'soft' drugs and divert the money into getting guns out of the hands of criminals. Throw the burden of health care overages onto users and squeeze the cartels financially. Cut the ATF instead of the Armed Forces. Stuff the EPA and the TSA into their boxes. Halve the DHS, since Obama says al-Qaeda's on the run and there's nobody else to worry about. Free up jail space for violent and sex offenders. Oxycontin is as addicting as just about anything, but it's legal for anyone with a prescription. Our government seems to be able to make a distinction between its licensed use and its abuse. Why can that not be the case with guns?
Distressingly, the number of unsolved murders committed per year in England and Wales had doubled from 1997 to 2007. In the US, the percentage of solved murders has dropped from near 90% in the 1960s to below 65% in 2010, despite significant advances in forensic technology. In the US, over 5000 homicides a year go unsolved. Given unbridled government spending on other goods and services, it's to be expected that police departments are increasingly pinched. As laws criminalizing ever more kinds of behavior and rules governing ever more kinds of behavior have proliferated like kudzu, more and more police resources have been directed towards policing more and more kinds of proscribed activity or inactivity. The fines realized from these regulations have stuffed the coffers of bureaucracies, and perverted the course of justice in the process. Demonizing the wealthy, or gun owners, or home schoolers, or the purveyors of raw milk creates ever-new categories of prospective criminals that have to be surveilled and controlled or threatened, much to the delight of violent criminals, whose capture is unlikely to realize income for bureaus and departments. Far too many resources for far too long have been poured into busting and imprisoning casual drug users, with the same results that plagued prohibition. The solution, in the minds of progressives, is to criminalize the dispensing of large soft drinks and the sale of unpasteurized milk, and the justification for these strange injunctions comes from socializing health care. The costs to the state are much more important than the costs to the citizen, but (according to the state) the well-being of the state is coequal with the well-being of the citizen, because the citizen is the state's principal concern, even when the state's screwing the citizen. We are all 'stakeholders' in this entity that ineluctably pushes for our individual subjection.
As millions of Americans have said millions of times, government's solution to everything is more government. Government likes to believe, because it is flattering and because it justifies its agendas, that more government confers on its subjects a better quality of life. Runaway government is an attention whore, a rapacious guest who won't go away, who no longer feels the need to be invited, who wants you always to listen, but seldom listens, and goes to his car to get a handgun when you ask him to leave. Unchecked government is a stalker, a prowler, a drunkard, a peeping Tom, a squatter, an aggressive panhandler, a wigging junky, a malignant narcissist, a sociopath, a psychotic, a home invader, a grievance-wracked incompetent, a paranoid schizophrenic, a Dorner, who will never take no for an answer. Let the sequester come, and another, and another, and teach them what it's like to have to make decisions of economy.
Life in the US becomes more and more onerously concerned with trying to steer clear of technical violations of regulatory arcana, and there is always some justification for these impositions. The Game of Life here becomes ever more about the officials, into whose tip jar fines are inserted, and ever less about the players. Last week, the IRS claimed that it needed to find revenues with which to employ more functionaries, because the tax laws had grown so complex that they couldn't keep up with the violators and their violations. That the rules had become far too complex for citizens to understand themselves was none of their concern. The regulations are what they are, and in IRS court one is guilty until proved innocent. As Deroy Murdock recently argued, overcriminalization fuels the rise of our paramilitary police state. We need to pay our fair share for the blessings of such vigilance on the part of our overseers.
As the state inexorably expands, putatively for our own good, so does its demands on our allegiance, and that allegiance has to be guaranteed, if need be, with (for example), the purchase of billions of hollow point bullets and (as they like to say) assault weapons (which miraculously become personal protection weapons, in their hands) for the police belonging to the state. The fanboys and fangirls of Obamaphile grieferhero Chris Dorn find it exciting that he lashed out against the LAPD, the Riverside PD, the daughter of an ex-LAPD officer and his former future son-in-law, without ever considering that Obama's DHS is increasingly a police agency in the service of a President who doesn't believe much in checks and balances, or oversight, or advice and consent, or transparency. Hey, all they want is for the President and his adherents, however demented, to have a monopoly on violence. What could go wrong?
While our own two-legged Walter Duranty, Piers Morgan, relentlessly pushes for greater gun control in the US, he tweets about the abject failures of the NHS back at home only to defend it by contrast with some egregious failure on the part of some US health care provider, such as overcharging a woman for scorpion venom anti-serum. Any outrage committed by any portion of the NHS—and there are many—is supposed to have been the result of a lack of funding that otherwise would have ensured the prompt delivery of top-notch medical services, with a smile. Why the NHS is short of capital to maintain its standards, which has something to do with the centrality of bean counting to the operation, never is an issue; as Steny Hoyer likes to say, they don't have a spending problem, but a "paying for problem." If a mere citizen has a paying for problem with the IRS, that is his responsibility, but if a bureau for which politicians has made promises to constituents falls down on the job, that also is the citizen's responsibility.
But nationalized health is going to work out here, you know, because . . . American exceptionalism.
Several days ago, Piers browbeat a guest (um . . . Alex Jones) who didn't know, presumably from the Annenberg report that I linked at the beginning of this post, that Yemen (Yemen!) was second to the US in gun ownership, surpassing even Switzerland. In the midst of his lying about the UK, what he didn't say was that Honduras has only 7 or so guns per hundred people, according to the bar graph near the bottom. Yet Honduras has the highest rate of intentional homicides in the world: 82 per 100k citizens per year, or 10 times the rate of the US. Somehow, that escaped Piers' discussion, if not his attention. The rate of violent crime overall in the UK, however, far surpasses that in the US.
A woman was overcharged in the US for scorpion venom anti-serum, hence you are forever estopped from complaining about the systemic failures of the NHS, which Piers would like to help the proggies bring to our shores. Pay up, bitch. It's your prime function as a citizen. And don't complain, or I'll cut you.
UPDATE: Murder rates in Canadian provinces and bordering US states, via @irishspy