Gun Laws & Legislation

David Codrea: The Going Rate

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By David Codrea, Guns Magazine

“There are three kinds of lies,” Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography, recalling a quote arguably attributed to 19th Century Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. “Lies, damned lies and statistics.”

When it comes to statistics used to attack the right to keep and bear arms, Disraeli, or whoever actually coined the observation, was closer to the mark than many “official” figures. That’s true both in the effectively disarmed United Kingdom, perpetually held up by anti-gunners as a model of the way things ought to be, and here in the US.

“A million (British) crimes reported by the public [were] left out of police figures,” The Telegraphreported. “Overall, almost a fifth of crimes failed to appear in the figures for England and Wales … but in some forces the proportion was as high as a third. Overall, police failed to record a quarter of rapes and a third of violent crimes across England and Wales.”

That’s been going on for a while.

“An estimated 1.4 million crimes are going unrecorded by the police every year partly because officers bend the rules to exaggerate their success,” The Independent reported in 2000. “Police officers have been found grossly to misrepresent and massage crime statistics to improve their detection rates while downplaying the number of offences committed. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found that 24 per cent of crimes reported to the police in 11 forces examined were not recorded as offences.”

“Crime rates in England and Wales ‘worse than US,’ The Independent observed in a 2010 report. “The study for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime found England and Wales had more burglaries and robberies per 100,000 people than the United States in 2006.”

Significantly, as The Daily Unconstitutional blog observed from a 2008 story in The Telegraph, “Data provided … by nearly every police force in England and Wales … show that the number of firearms incidents dealt with by officers annually is 60 per cent higher than figures stated by the Home Office. Last year 5,600 firearms offences were excluded from the official figures. It means that, whereas the Home Office said there were only 9,800 offences in 2007/8, the real total was around 15,400.”

So much for the “gun-free” myth. And so much for creating a safer society following the handgun ban enacted after the 1996 Dunblane massacre, when a madman, enabled by a traditionally (largely) unarmed culture, slaughtered children without opposition, stopped only by the bullet he fired into himself.

So why not just give accurate victimization numbers? The government needs to appear effective to the public, and the fact that police administrations are ultimately dependent on politicians for their budgets and their careers help explain some of the incentives for officials to keep crime figures low. Again perThe Telegraph, police feel “an ‘undercurrent of pressure not to record a crime across some forces’ and ‘wrongful pressure’ by managers.”

Still, it’s not like numbers on our side of the pond are that much more reliable, at least as applied by opportunistic anti-gunners in order to lull the gullible into falling for an agenda. It’s not coincidental that some of the worst offenses come from a US city that would rival any in the UK if only the political establishment there could continue to have their way.

“The city’s drop in crime has been nothing short of miraculous,” Chicago Magazine noted in a “Politics & City Life” report. “Here’s what’s behind the unbelievable numbers.”

The pressure to report reductions in crimes is strong, particularly homicides, the report noted, having “identified 10 people … who were beaten, burned, suffocated, or shot to death in 2013 and whose cases were reclassified as death investigations, downgraded to more minor crimes, or even closed as noncriminal incidents—all for illogical or, at best, unclear reasons.

“[T]he police brass turn up the pressure in weekly meetings, grilling field commanders about crime in their areas,” the report explained. “The statistics are widely said to make or break a career … If the numbers are bad, the district commanders and officers get reamed out by [Superintendant Garry McCarthy] and the other bosses at headquarters.”

McCarthy, of course, is rabidly anti-gun. Per the Illinois State Rifle Association, while “[a]ppearing on a Chicago Sunday morning talk show, [he] expressed his conviction that firearm owners who lobby their elected representatives or who donate money to political campaigns are engaged in corruption that endangers public safety. McCarthy went on to express his belief that judges and legislators should rely on public opinion polls when interpreting our Constitution.”

In opposing concealed carry reforms, he told another radio program “I don’t care if they’re licensed legal firearms. I’ll train our officers that there is a concealed carry law, but when somebody turns with a firearm in their hand the officer does not have an obligation to wait to get shot to return fire and we’re going to have tragedies as a result of that. I’m telling you right up front.”

Right on schedule, and as this column is being written, McCarthy is claiming “So far this year we have had the fewest amount of murders since 1965.” Left unsaid is that the Chicago Medical Examiner’s office uses a different accounting system that tallies all homicides, whereas Chicago Police limit their numbers to those the state attorney’s office will file murder charges on. Also left unsaid is that fewer murders were committed after Illinois began permitting concealed carry, and that does not fit the desired narrative.

While numbers that make it appear the Windy City is under control may please McCarthy’s boss, the equally anti-gun Mayor Rahm Emanuel (a longtime Obama ally, naturally), Chicago is not the only place that fudges the numbers, and it’s not like officials just began doing it, either.

“Misreporting statistics about crime is not a new phenomenon. The practice may well predate the inception of the Uniform Crime Reports in 1930,” Police Magazine documented, citing examples from New York, New Orleans and Los Angeles, as well as Chi-Town. “While sawing crime statistics in half and making the paper trail of real victims disappear often entails sleight of hand at the keyboard, the means by which a department may inflate or deflate the numbers comes down to initiative, creativity, and acts of prestidigitation that extend well beyond computerized Magic Markers.”

And there are other groups that happily accept “cooking the books” because doing so fits in with an agenda they support: the media and the gun-grabbers. That way Michael Bloomberg’s “Everytown” can claim 90 percent of the public and most NRA members support registration and confiscation-enabling “background checks,” when results on a recent Washington State ballot measure show it took a relentless, billionaire-backed media campaign to get the measure to pass with under 60 percent of a perennial blue state’s vote.

But back to Piers Morgan Paradise: Even with all the bogus numbers being bandied about, there’s the indisputable claim from the citizen disarmament lobby that they have fewer “gun homicides” than the US does, and by a lot. You’ll notice no one who is claiming guns are to blame ever compares the violent crime rate for the 5 million armed-to-the-teeth members of the NRA with that of the UK. With the “damned liars” who demand you surrender your right to keep and bear arms to them, numbers are like Orwell’s farm animals: Some are more equal than others.

Note: Some of the articles used as references in this report were initially identified, cited and linked in a “Second Amendment Group” email compiled by journalist and film producer Dan Gifford and sent to his distribution list of writers, journalists, scholars, lawyers and activists.

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