Guns: U.S. vs World – Murder Rates by Country

Summary

If the facts support your argument, you share the complete facts: the gun advocates do this. 
When the facts don’t support your argument, propagandists (gun controllers) use fallacies, cherry picking, lying and cooking the numbers. 

The facts are, in murder rates:

  • The U.S. is 121 in a list of 218 countries. (Middle of the pack). 
  • Compared to other countries in the Americas, we #4 out of 49 counties geographically and demographically most similar to us
  • Compared to OECD countries, we’d be around 19 of 36, if you demographically normalized 
  • There’s a correlation between guns and murder, but it is that more guns = less murder
  • Anti-gun arguments are based errors that would embarrass a first year logic or statistics student 

Details

If the facts support your argument, you share the complete facts, and trust the people to decide. If they don’t, and you want to "win" at all costs, you’ll misrepresent the facts, and litter your arguments with fallacies and emotional appeals. So let’s look at the facts in the U.S. has a higher murder rate than Country X (or a group of countries). 

The media claims U.S. Gun Murder rate is higher than other nations

Here are a few frauds (fallacies) used with this argument: 

  1. It’s a Cherry Picking Fallacy by selectively comparing to countries that make us look bad
  2. Within many of those countries (like the U.K.) they cherry pick the data (throwing out Ireland and Scottland, only counting murders as someone who is charged, etc) to make themselves look better than they are (skew their numbers up).
  3. Another trick is often they like to look at total murders, and not murder RATE (they don’t adjust for population), which makes the larger countries look worse.
  4. This is also a biased sample fallacy, since they aren’t comparing like data (we’re not them). We have different cultures/racial breakdowns(more diversity) and different crime/culture problems, there’s also huge differences in urban/rural breakdowns, by age, and other factors. We live next to a 3rd world country (Mexico) which brings our crime & mruder rates up, and so on. When you look at subsets or adjust for demographics, we out perform others. Those that don’t correct for those things either don’t know statistics, or are hoping their readers don’t. 
  5. Whenever they qualify the data with "Gun" murder rates, a Red Herring is involved. They’re intentionally bias/pollute the sample (and skew the topic). The topic is whether gun control increases/decreases your murder rates, not just "Gun" murder rates. If outlawing guns reduced gun murders, but increased your murders overall, most rational people would admit that’s not a net win for society. 
  6.  Polluting data: if they add in "gun violence", "gun crimes", they’re intentionally tainting the data (also a Red Herring / change of subject). We’re talking about murder rates, not suicide rates (which are in "gun violence" statistics). We know gun control has no positive, and sometimes negative effects on suicide rates. (Japan and Denmark have higher suicides than the U.S., despite gun control). So this is a distraction. And more gun control seems to lead to more violent crimes — so looking at a subset of only violent gun crime, is a polluted sample. 
  7. There is usually an implied (or sometimes stated) bandwagon fallacy, "All the other countries are doing it, so it must be right". 

And so on. Which shows that by misrepresenting/omitting/skewing data that, they’re either gullible, or intentionally deceiving those who are (fools or frauds). I could go on with logical fallacies and misrepresentation. And at the end of this article, I have examples of links show cooked samples/sources. But let’s be positive and educate folks on the facts instead. 

What are the facts?

Ignore the fragment graphs the media usually provides, where does the U.S rank in the world? The United States is 121 in list of 218 countries for murder rates. We are in the bottom half, well below average or median murder rates.


The gun-controllers usually want to only compare us to Europe, but why?

When you look at the U.S. racially/culturally and geographically, we’re not like Europe at all (or near it). We’re far more like countries in the Americas than we are like OECD/European countries. Then the U.S. ranks #4 (of 49 countries) in murder rates. That’s a far more logically (geographically) based argument. 

 

Why do others pick OECD countries, knowing we’re unlike them (and that Americas comparison is more valid)? Because the facts don’t show what they want, and misleading people for an agenda is what they want. They try to argue that it’s economics based — but that opens another can of worms (for another article). But we know murder rates don’t correlate well to economics. How do we know that? Some poor countries (like Japan) have much lower murder rates than rich countries, and within the U.S., rural poor areas generally have lower murder rates than richer urban ones. So the implication is specious, and they know it. They’re not that dumb, but they’re counting on their readers to be that gullible. 

NOTE: Even when they cook the numbers and try to look at only gun homicides, the U.S. is still below average and median gun murder rates, despite being the highest in gun ownership.

OECD Corrected

Let’s play their game of make-believe, and pretend we’re like Europe, and compare ourselves to OECD countries… with one simple correction. In the U.S. Blacks are 1/7th the population, but over 1/2 of all our murders, and Latino’s are about the same 15% of the population, and are responsible for over half the rest of murders. So let’s just adjust for racial crime rates (since Europe has virtually no blacks or latinos compare to the U.S). What would we be like with their racial/cultural diversity? Face it, unless you’re a black or latino in a gang, those murder rates don’t impact you, and they’re dragging the average up. So if we correct for those demographic differences (or just compare an accurate subset), we find that the U.S. (red) in in the middle of European murder rates, better than Ireland, Canada, Luxembourg and so on. (And Ireland doesn’t count manslaughter in homicides like the rest of the world does, or they’d be even higher).

So while this kind of correction is not only mathematically sound, but required for statistics 101 (always normalize your samples), you’ll never see this kind of scientific/factual corrections or call-out for not doing them, in any of the media or anti-gunners propaganda for a reason. Which shows that anyone who doesn’t make these correction either doesn’t know what they’re talking about, or worse, they do and they’re intentionally misleading people (propagandists). 


Now at this point many people scream, "Racist", trying to distract the fact that they just lost the argument. But that shows they don’t know what words mean.

NOTE: Nobody believes that blacks/latinos kill more people because of their race: black immigrants from Africa or Europe, or even suburban/rural America, don’t have the same high murder rates as urban american blacks do. They’re just saying that you need to normalize/sanitize your data-sets based on extenuating criteria (in this case, gang crimes tied to race). Once you filter that out, you find that the U.S. is safer than most of the world, and that any theoretical gun-to-crime correlation is murky.  Race is a proxy to show where the true problems are, otherwise there wouldn’t be such a discrepancy in white/asia v. black/latino murder rates in the U.S. Most of the population has no problem with guns, only a subset. When we compare that subset across countries, we’re completely in line with European countries. And there’s no evidence that if Europe had our racial breakdown, they wouldn’t have at least as high, or higher, a murder rate. So guns aren’t the issue. And since most gang guns are illegally obtained, and they already have drug-smuggling crime-rings, the idea that gun control could help with this problem, is delusional. 
The other distraction, is they try to claim that I’m implying I don’t care about blacks or latino’s which is why I’m filtering them out. (Inferred racist). But quite the opposite, we need to recognize that America’s white murder rate is 1/7th the black murder rate (or like 1/4th the Latino murder rate), despite whites having far higher gun ownership. Gun ownership doesn’t correlate to gun crime in the U.S., or blacks would have a lower murder/crime rate:  thus guns aren’t the problem, we have a specific problem with a cultural subset (gangs), and in order to address it, we need to focus on that problem, and not taking away guns from folks that aren’t committing any gun crimes. 

If gun controllers are choosing not to "get it", and this point, I’ll start messing with them, and play fallacy for fallacy. I point out: "guns don’t kill people, democrats kill people", as 80%+ of murders (and crime) is by democrats — thus whites/Asians with guns, aren’t the problem, blacks/latinos/democrat voters with guns are. So, "we don’t need gun control, we need Democrat control", since the rest of don’t have a gun problem (1/4th the murder/violent crime rates that they do). Suddenly, their inner statistician comes out. They point out (accurately), that correlation isn’t causality, so we haven’t proved cause: a point they miss when blaming all gun owners for gang crimes. They suddenly want to talk about how you can’t assume that everyone in a dataset is responsible for the aberration; another thing they conveniently forgot when broad-brush blaming ALL of America (or all legal gun owners), for the crimes/murders of a few illegal gun owners (in a few democrat controlled cities). They cry, "Averages, don’t tell the whole story", and I reply, "ya don’t say?" Suddenly, they recognize all the problems of the very fallacious arguments they’ve been using against our gun liberties, they just only selectively recognize those problems depending on if they are being applied to their side, on the other side. Proving they’re not dumb, just hypocrites. 

Correlation

The prime point that the gun-controllers are trying to make is that the reason the U.S. has a higher murder rate, is because we don’t have gun control. Even if we did have a higher murder rate (which we don’t), and it was consistent across all countries with/without gun control (which it isn’t), that’s still what’s known as the correlation proves causation fallacy (post hoc ergo propter hoc). It only shows that there might be a correlation, if there’s no other stronger cause. But since they cherry-picked the data to begin with, they have a lie, trying to prove a fallacy. 

The facts are, there is a correlation — but it’s the wrong way. In the charts below, the countries with the most gun control have higher average murders, and ones with lower gun control actually trend down on murder rates. (A downward sloping line shows correlation). The left one shows it for all countries (where the correlation / slope is greater), but even if we only look at OECD countries (which we’ve already explained aren’t good demographic/geographic correlation with the U.S.), you still get the correlation show guns lower murder rates. And of course if you compare the U.S. to other countries in the Americas, or factor in the race/cultural corrections, America drops even further, and the correlation is even stronger. In fact, America being above the trend line (as an anomoly) means if you look at Europe or the world without the U.S., then the slope is higher (and correlation is stronger).

So ironically, the exact points that gun-controllers are trying to bring up by saying, "let’s compare the U.S. to Europe", shows the exact opposite correlation that they think it does, even if we cook the numbers and skew the subset the way they want. Just less so than if we look at them more honestly. 

Trends

One of the most important points, that they don’t address is trends. We know that Europe had lower homicide rates to begin with, so that fact that they’re still lower (regardless of gun control), isn’t a surprise. The question is, what happened to murder rates after countries enacted gun control? In those cases, we know that murder rates either went up, or at least didn’t go down as fast as the countries that enacted no gun control, or loosened gun control. 

Conclusion

The fact that the gun-controllers lie regularly (use fallacies, falsehoods and numbers tricks) to sell their points to the gullible followers, sure hints that there’s no good data to support their causes, or they wouldn’t have to keep using bad data and tricks. While the gun-rights folks are willing to openly discuss the math, and show their work (and not cherry pick and skew, or at least do so openly), which also hints that the data supports their point, or at least shows that the gun-controllers data isn’t very good. 

Let’s give the gun-controllers the benefit of the doubt, pretend they made honest mistakes (and none of them know anything about basic statistics). And let’s assume that correlation isn’t causation, and there’s some other reason why the evidence showing that more guns = less crime (murder) is wrong too (there’s an alternative cause, and thus we have no evidence either way). Even with all that bias towards gun-controllers, it still supports the gun-rights folks argument. It would mean that despite trying gun-control in hundreds of countries, there’s no good evidence that it helped. Thus, if you have the choice of supporting liberty (the natural right of self defense) or supporting tyranny (gun control), and the latter has no positive impacts, that you should always err on the side of liberty over tyranny. 

I’ve only been studying this topic for 35 years or so. If someone has something new or contradictory, let me know. I’m always interested. But until then, all the evidence I’ve seen shows that gun-controllers are either liars, or aren’t very good at math/logic — and that all the better evidence is that gun control does nothing observable to help with murders, crimes or suicide (I talk about the others in other articles), which is no gain for a high cost of taking away people’s right to defend themselves (and buy/trade in tools they like, or enjoy the hobbies they want to). 


References (facts)

References (frauds)


Map that shows visually how poorly high gun ownership correlates to murder rates:  

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