September 15, 2007

Analogies and how not to use them

Richard Munday wrote an article recently about why Britain should bring in liberalisation on gun laws. Now I'm not questioning or discussing his main points- but at one point he quoted Thomas Jefferson about the way that guns in the hands of the public reduced crime. The problem is that when Jefferson wrote that, he wrote it about a society that had no police force, was predominantly rural and was also very parochial. Mr Munday should realise that what was right and proper for Thomas Jefferson's society might not be for ours. Its worth bearing this kind of lesson in mind: historical analogies work only if you establish that the situation you are dealing with is similar- in this case no matter what your views of the central issue, your views on law enforcement and gun law are very different depending on the society that you live in and Jefferson's society was very different from ours today.

11 comments:

Sir James Robison said...

This is very true - they are so misused by people in whose hands they should not be. The more circumspect use them sparingly.

Lord Nazh© said...

I think the main thing he was trying to get across is the total failure of the draconian gun laws in Britain (and the countries/states that enact them).

Criminals by nature do not follow laws, there is no reason to expect they will follow gun laws, no matter how harsh they are. All you do is take guns away from people that do indeed follow the law, making them victims.

Edd said...

Nazh - In the UK there were 50 homicides using fire arms in 2005/6 compared to 10,100 in the US....

Our laws may be draconian but they seem to work rather better than yours! :)

ThunderDragon said...

Nazh, but because most people - and most police - don't have guns means that most criminals don't need guns either. If everyone has a gun, the criminals certainly do - and that means that death becomes a far higher probability.

I wrote my reply to this article back when it was first published.

Gracchi said...

My Lord I was making a simple point- in general I'm not an enthusiast of gun control- and I would agree with teh other points made here but the general issue is that he shouldn't have been quoting Jefferson.

Lord Nazh© said...

Probably true Gracchi :)

edd/TD: that explains why the violent crime-rate, gun-crime rate and gun-death rate are rising steadily in England no?

Edd said...

Nazh not strictly true. There was the impression that it was rising due to changes in the reporting practices - eg an incident involving 3 people is now often classes as 3 crimes and not 1 as previously. What is generally considered to be accurate figures is the Home Office's British Crime survey http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb0107.pdf
which shows no change in the number of murders with guns between 2005 and 2006 (57), serious injuries down 9%, minor injuries down 29% and overall figures for incidents with guns down 14%.

It also says "There was no statistically significant change in BCS violent crime
for interviews in year ending to September 2006 compared with
the previous year. Recorded violent crime for July to September
2006 showed a one per cent decrease over the same period in
2005"

The media like to make out that it is rising all the time but the truth that violent

ThunderDragon said...

"edd/TD: that explains why the violent crime-rate, gun-crime rate and gun-death rate are rising steadily in England no?"

No, that's because the police have to spend too much time filling in forms rather than patrolling the streets. Completely different issue.

And it is still far, far, lower than that in America.

Lord Nazh© said...

so Edd thinks that it is a statistic issue (even if there was 'no significant' change, wouldn't that be a lose-lose for after passing such laws?) and TD blames it on paperwork :)

Edd said...

Nazh - "edd/TD: that explains why the violent crime-rate, gun-crime rate and gun-death rate are rising steadily in England no?" is crying to statistics is it not - so i respond with statistics to show that your comments are not true...

not sure where the problem is ;)

anyway if you want to argue the effectiveness or not of a law I am not sure of a better place to go than the statistics...

ps. as far as i know no major gun laws been changed just minor administrative matters of reporting procedures.

John said...

Nazh: honestly if in the US there was no history of widespread gun ownership and you had much lower rates of gun crime, would you legalise gun use?

I can recognise the argument for not banning guns in America, but I don't see how that extends to introducing them to other countries.

Englighten me...