January 07, 2004

RELAX WITH REVOLVERS

Mark Steyn leads a lockless life:

British friends visiting me in this corner of northern New England from their crime-ridden leafy shires always remark on my blithe unconcern about "home security". I don't have laser alarms, or window locks, or, indeed, a front-door key. Like most of my neighbours, I leave my home unlocked and, when I park the car, I leave the key in the ignition because then you always know where to find it.

I'm able to do this because - and this is where the gung-ho bit comes in - I live in a state with very high rates of gun ownership. In other words, if you're some teen punk and you want to steal my $70 television set, they're likely to be picking bits of your skull out of my wainscoting. But the beauty of this system is that I'm highly unlikely ever to have to blow your head off. The fact that most homeowners are believed to be armed reduces crime, in my neighbourhood, to statistically insignificant levels. Hence, my laconic approach to home security.

Living in Sydney, Iím not able to possess the handgun that I need. Not legally, that is. Our place has been broken into and robbed twice, and our car broken into four times. One neighbour, a single parent, has twice encountered burglars in her house; confronted, they were defiant and mocking. As youíd expect them to be. They knew that the tiny, terrified woman challenging them had neither the strength nor the means to do anything about them.

Anyway, Iíve got a few knives stashed around the place. Some friends prefer baseball bats. Not exactly a laconic approach, but itís about all we can do.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 7, 2004 12:12 AM
Comments

Baseball bat, yuck. Makes me appreciate my Sig Sauer all the more.

Posted by: Tim in PA at January 7, 2004 at 12:16 AM

I wonder if the condescending Swede to which Steyn is replying realizes that Sweden has got a signficantly higher rate of crime than the US, including violent crime.

Posted by: peter at January 7, 2004 at 12:24 AM

We don't seem to have the mocking problem in Texas. I caught a teen stealing my bike off the patio. I ran over him in my truck and made him paint my house to pay for damages; he seemed grateful. I caught a crackhead breaking in to the house I own next door to mine; he was most courteous and apologetic as he lay face down with the barrel of my shotgun to his head.

Posted by: Paul at January 7, 2004 at 12:25 AM

I live in Texas where gun ownership is a way of life. Breaking into a home here is a little bit like playing Russian Roulette so the relatively small number of idiots who do take the risk usually don't have a long career.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at January 7, 2004 at 12:37 AM

As always, Steyn displays not only an incisive wit but also an admirable sense of restraint. I'd be hard pressed not to completely slam a woman as idiotic, nasty, and condescending as that Ann Widung he mentions. Anyone who uses the opportunity of a woman's murder to mouth about "peace and love" and decry the US alleged "culture of fear" is worse than an idiotarian. She's a person who has given notice that coddling criminals is more important than allowing women the right to self-defense.

Posted by: Kimberly at January 7, 2004 at 12:53 AM

Go with the bat, Tim. Using a knife to kill or injure someone is hellishly hard - you have to get very up close and personal, and if they have a bat or a knife you are screwed. A bat or club (wrenches and tire irons also have interesting dual-use capabilities) is a much better way to go at it.

The best of both worlds would be a sword or a short spear, I suppose - perhaps an assegai - although I'm not sure how legal they are in Australia. I keep a set of "decorative" Japanese swords nice and sharp in case I run out of ammo.

Posted by: R. C. Dean at January 7, 2004 at 01:11 AM

There is one other thing you can do Tim -- emigrate.

Posted by: charles austin at January 7, 2004 at 01:15 AM

Unfortunately for Mr Steyn's theory, there are more burglaries in the places with higher gun ownership.

The Effects of Gun Prevalence on Burglary: Deterrence vs Inducement

Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig
The proposition that widespread gun ownership serves as a deterrent to residential burglary is widely touted by advocates, but the evidence is weak, consisting of anecdotes, interviews with burglars, casual comparisons with other countries, and the like. A more systematic exploration requires data on local rates of gun ownership and of residential burglary, and such data have only recently become available. In this paper we exploit a new well-validated proxy for local gun-ownership prevalence -- the proportion of suicides that involve firearms -- together with newly available geo-coded data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, to produce the first systematic estimates of the net effects of gun prevalence on residential burglary patterns. The importance of such empirical work stems in part from the fact that theoretical considerations do not provide much guidance in predicting the net effects of widespread gun ownership. Guns in the home may pose a threat to burglars, but also serve as an inducement, since guns are particularly valuable loot. Other things equal, a gun-rich community provides more lucrative burglary opportunities than one where guns are more sparse. The new empirical results reported here provide no support for a net deterrent effect from widespread gun ownership. Rather, our analysis concludes that residential burglary rates tend to increase with community gun prevalence.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at January 7, 2004 at 01:22 AM

You can't ever go wrong with a Remington 870 12ga pump shotgun....every idiot in the world knows what is coming when they hear the sound of a round being jacked into the the chamber.....alas I think if you can't have a pistol, the shotgun is probably out too. Makes me sad :-(

Posted by: Jeff at January 7, 2004 at 01:23 AM

But Tim, that is US only data. Plus, the fact is that guns are everywhere in the US no matter what the laws from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Plus, gun ownership tends to be higher in more working class areas where crime, in fact, is higher but due to socio-economic factors not gun ownership.

A much purer analysis needs to look outside the US. Rates of burglary are significantly higher in Britain and as Steyn points out 59% of burglaries in Britain occur w/ occupants at home vs. 12% in the US. If that is the only impact of gun ownership - that robbery is inevitable, but someone is going to rob me while I am not at home vs. when me, my wife or my daugther are home, I'll take it in a New York minute.

Posted by: peter at January 7, 2004 at 01:30 AM

"In this paper we exploit a new well-validated proxy for local gun-ownership prevalence - the proportion of suicides that involve firearms"

So what these economists are saying is that they think places with a high proportion of gun suicides are places with a high proprtion of gun ownership and that those places have a high rate of residential buglary.

Hmmm. Could it be the other way around?

Could it be that if you have a high rate of residential burglary you are NOT living in a safe and happy community and there is a higher chance of you blowing your brains out with a gun?


Posted by: Bruce at January 7, 2004 at 01:33 AM


"In this paper we exploit a new well-validated proxy for local gun-ownership prevalence -- the proportion of suicides that involve firearms"

Who's more likely to commit suicide - someone in a low-crime, high-income neighborhood, or someone in a high-crime, low-income neighborhood? Crack dealers busting into each other's cribs doesn't count as burglary in my book.

I look forward to the next 156 comments that will more thoroughly blast the methodology of this study.

Posted by: Dave S. at January 7, 2004 at 01:33 AM

The District of Columbia has the lowest rate of suicide in the country (yet has the highest murder rate). Never mind that this is a city compared to states, but the point is that this methodology is ludicrous. Nevada has the highest rate of suicide, yet its largest city Las Vegas has a low rate of crime compared to other cities.

Posted by: peter at January 7, 2004 at 01:40 AM

Dear Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig,

Gun ownership increase robberies. Really? I swear I am starting to believe that the more education one attains, the less common sense comes into play. It must be mutually exclusive. As for you premise above.....I guess that explains why that England suffers a huge problem with robberies of all types as well as 30% increase in illegal gun crimes.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3112818.stm

It doesn't take a whole lot of common sense (much less doing a study) to figure this one out:

If legally owning a firearm is prohibited, and I being a criminal possess a gun illegally, I now inhabit a target rich environment. Odds are that most any person that I chose to assault will have be at a disadvantage.

Now, lets say for argument I live in a area where not only is legal owning a gun permitted, but also has a concealed carry law.....well then, I guess I just will have to take my chances.

Just remember "An armed society, is a polite society" You never know who is armed...and thus should temper your behavior accordingly.

Posted by: Jeff at January 7, 2004 at 01:43 AM

So now I actually looked at the stupid thing. Its funded by the Joyce Foundation (which should set off ones BS detector). No doubt it was well understood that these "academics" would perform statistical gymnastics in order to show the likely predetermined result and satisfy the foundation's anti-gun agenda.

Posted by: peter at January 7, 2004 at 01:56 AM

Peter, I liked your "refutation" by putting scare quotes around the word "academics". I have refuted your "refutation" by using scare quotes the same way.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at January 7, 2004 at 02:16 AM

Silly rightwingers. This simply proves what we have said all along -- guns are scary.

Posted by: iowahawk at January 7, 2004 at 02:16 AM

I keep the walkway lined with Claymores, just in case they make it past the tiger pits and nooses...

Posted by: mojo at January 7, 2004 at 02:21 AM

I remember that study (or one similar to it) in which the suicide proxy was used. Of course, it created widely erratic swings because certain areas where gun ownership is hugely common have such a low incidence of suicide (and crime in general) as to make the study worthless.

Perhaps Mr. Lambert would like to explain why violent crime is falling in the US, yet rising in places where guns are firmly controlled?

Or, to give a more concrete example, how Michigan, which now has more than 100,000 people licensed to carry concealed pistols, can see the murder rate DROP. Shouldn't we have having shootouts on a daily basis?

Guns: they cause crime, except when they don't.

Posted by: Alec at January 7, 2004 at 02:23 AM

``our analysis concludes that residential burglary rates tend to increase with community gun prevalence.''

Vancouver is No. 2 for property crime in North America. Vancouver is gun free.

Posted by: chip at January 7, 2004 at 02:26 AM

"The proposition that widespread gun ownership serves as a deterrent to residential burglary is widely touted by advocates, but the evidence is weak, consisting of anecdotes, interviews with burglars, casual comparisons with other countries, and the like." (Emphasis added.)

On the other hand, finding a correlation that fits your theory of causation is perfectly okay.

Me, I might actually put some stock in what the burglars have to say about it. Say, interview 500 convicted burglers about how they selected or deselected targets, then run the numbers.

Anybody ever ask the question why a researcher would choose an indirect indicator over a direct indicator in performing a study like this? Think about it.

Posted by: mark at January 7, 2004 at 02:29 AM

Consider this example --

As I was looking out my office window a few moments ago, I saw a Wells Fargo truck making its money deliveries/pick ups.

Do you think that the fact that these men are armed is a deterant to would-be thieves? I think that few would rationalize against that, but you are welcome to try.

It would seem that thieves take a calculated risk. Maybe their is a gun in the house, maybe not. Odds are better in high gun ownership areas. However, if I stood out on my front lawn w/ a shot gun, would anyone attempt to rob my house? Of course not.

Various areas may have higher rates of burglary for any number of reasons, but it is absolutely ludicrous to argue that guns are not a deterant

Posted by: peter at January 7, 2004 at 02:33 AM

You'd think Florida would be a shooting gallery full of aspiring burglars...but you'd be wrong. But I suppose some "academic" will tell me that Florida is the exception because 75-year-old snowbirds from Michigan don't have the upper body strength to bust a steel dead-bolt out of a door frame, not to mention the fact that widespread macular degeneration and diabetes-related eye problems prevent them from precision targeting homeowners with the guns they've stolen.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at January 7, 2004 at 02:34 AM

Consider this example --

As I was looking out my office window a few moments ago, I saw a Wells Fargo truck making its money deliveries/pick ups.

Do you think that the fact that these men are armed is a deterant to would-be thieves? I think that few would rationalize against that, but you are welcomed to try.

It would seem that thieves take a calculated (or not so calculated) risk. Maybe there is a gun in the house, maybe not. Maybe someone is home, maybe not. However, if they knew irrefutably that there was an armed person in the house, few would try, right?

Therefore, presense of a gun owner is a strong deterant, is it not?

Posted by: peter at January 7, 2004 at 02:36 AM

By the way, Mr. Lambert, I receive regular ridicule in my neck of the woods for religiously locking my home. However, I have not drawn the conclusion that I can waltz away with the possessions of those who ridicule me. And rightly so, as I would probably end up in the hospital, dead or, even worse, the object of even *greater* ridicule. Paradoxically to the common sense impaired, burglary and gun violence are unheard of in my community.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at January 7, 2004 at 02:43 AM

Other things equal, a gun-rich community provides more lucrative burglary opportunities than one where guns are more sparse.

Of course, a gun-rich community is considerably more risky for a criminal than a gun-free community, so "other things" most definitely aren't "equal." By definition.

If the Lambert theory is true, that guns attract criminals, then I guess the smart thing to do is get rid of your guns and put up a sign in your yard proclaiming that you house is gun-free. Any volunteers care to test this theory?

Posted by: R. C. Dean at January 7, 2004 at 02:51 AM

"I remember that study (or one similar to it) in which the suicide proxy was used. Of course, it created widely erratic swings because certain areas where gun ownership is hugely common have such a low incidence of suicide (and crime in general) as to make the study worthless."

Not to mention that gun suicides are not always reliably reported. They are sometimes hushed up as "accidents".

Posted by: Floyd McWilliams at January 7, 2004 at 02:55 AM

Aren't gun suicides originally marked as homocide?

Posted by: Sandy P. at January 7, 2004 at 03:14 AM

Tim,
Would you characterize your neighborhood as particularly bad? Your anectdotes make it sound as such, but I can't compare well because such property crime is almost unheard of here in the states (and I have lived in some pretty bad neighborhoods).

Posted by: Scott at January 7, 2004 at 03:18 AM

I've found that the best home defense one can have is a shotgun. I have a Mossberg Bantam with an 18" barrel (the legal limit in Missouri) and I live a relatively lockless life as well (though I do lockup if I'm gone for more than a day).

Posted by: Robert Modean at January 7, 2004 at 03:22 AM

What is this 'well validated' proxy and why is it needed instead of direct evidence. i.e. burgerly rates/1000 in gun-owning states vs. non-gun owning state. Who validated it? What is rational between suiside and gun ownership vs suiside by other means?

Posted by: rabidfox at January 7, 2004 at 03:23 AM

Wait... you can't own a gun there, but you can use your baby as a squeak toy for your pet crocodile? This is what happens when a country is upside-down.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at January 7, 2004 at 03:35 AM

"...since guns are particularly valuable loot?" Is a gun, which can shoot you dead, that much more valuable than a DVD player, which cannot?

Posted by: scott h. at January 7, 2004 at 03:50 AM

For those who can't (legally) have guns to protect yourself .. can you have something like pepper spray/mace? If used correctly, it's better than a baseball bat. Or, use the mace first then bash them on the head with the bat.

My sister carries pepper spray/mace because she fears having a gun taken from her and used against her. If this were to happen with the spray, at least it wouldn't be as bad as a gun.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at January 7, 2004 at 04:31 AM

"Me, I might actually put some stock in what the burglars have to say about it. Say, interview 500 convicted burglers about how they selected or deselected targets, then run the numbers."

Mark, this has been done. I don't recall, offhand, whether it was Gary Kleck or John Lott, but the results were what common sense indicates. Unoccupied homes were preferred to occupied homes, precisely because of the chance of being shot. This also applied to in home rapes, as opposed to other areas of opportunity.

Posted by: CGeib at January 7, 2004 at 04:49 AM

The problem with using the suicide rate is that it varies enormously in different ethnic groups. Everyone knows that Scandinavians and other northern Europeans have a much higher suicide rate than Spaniards, Italians, and Greeks. I have the impression that Japanese have a much higher rate than Filipinos and Indonesians. It is less well known that the suicide rate among white Americans is roughly twice that among black Americans. I guess people don't like to talk about it much, since it sounds too much like that fruitcake 'ice people/sun people' Afrocentric crap. This disparity makes it impossible to compare different jurisdictions for suicide rates without adjusting for ethnicity.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil at January 7, 2004 at 04:56 AM

The report is bunk. Plain and simple. Take Steyn's assertions about New Hampshire--high gun ownership and all the 'lockless' incidents he puts forth. Now check it against burglary rates in NH.

Do this in other states with an incidence of high gun ownership. The result is just correlation--not causation, but it is very contrary to the 'findings' of that study--AND it uses gun ownership and burglary stats--not any kind of proxy.

Want to take it even further? Find a state with clear divisions, one where gun laws are strong in some places and more amenable to gun ownership in others. See which has higher burglary rates

Still just correlation, but the pattern is becoming very consistent.

Criminals prefer sure things. They'll hit the old lady before the bodybuilder--even if they know the bodybuilder's got more cash. They'll hit the unarmed--or disarmed--before the armed, and they err on the side of 'still breathing' in areas where anyone might have a gun.

Posted by: jack at January 7, 2004 at 05:09 AM

My sister carries pepper spray/mace because she fears having a gun taken from her and used against her.

Funny thing, that. A researcher trying to document this risk failed to identify any cases of it happening. It has been a problem for police, but they are subject to different rules of engagement and training and equipment developments have reduced the problem.

Posted by: triticale at January 7, 2004 at 05:17 AM

Chris Josephson:

Good question. I can answer for Boston, where it's really difficult for an ordinary person to keep a gun around--not impossible, but a hell of a lot of legal hoops to jump through.

Mace or pepper spray? Sure--as long as you apply for and receive a firearms identification card from your local police department first. The authorities really, really do not want you armed.

Oddly, I just got a news bulletin (by e-mail, from my employer) about an armed robbery last night, in a place I walk through on my way out of work, at an hour when I'd often pass through there. You'd think these laws would have made me safe!

Posted by: JPS at January 7, 2004 at 05:19 AM

"Not to mention that gun suicides are not always reliably reported. They are sometimes hushed up as 'accidents'."

Quite possible. Another interesting point is that US crime statistics overcount homicides, since many cases of self-defense are initially investigated as "murders" and only later cleared up.

The FBI does NOT revise their statistics to take this into account. Look it up for yourself. They go off the initial crime report, so charges that are subsequently dropped or citizens that are acquitted are still listed as "homicides" as far as crime reports go.

Given that many jurisdictions are downright hostile to self-defense and will throw the book at any armed citizen forced to defend life or property (see: New York City), it's easy to see how this could skew statistics.

I'll have to look into the "suicide proxy" again, though. Last time I did it was pretty laughable. When you have states like the Dakotas where a handful of suicides happen every year and burglary is rare, the model completely breaks down. We are literally talking about areas where a dozen suicides by hanging could end up being the leading cause of death for the state that year!

More junk science from the anti-self defense lobby. Why am I not surprised?

Posted by: Alec at January 7, 2004 at 05:30 AM

A large dog is also very good insurance against burglary.

Posted by: bartelson at January 7, 2004 at 05:31 AM

I like Texas. Here, if they're inside the home, or it's after dark, you've effectively got carte blanche to defend yourself or your property. And the cops mostly like it that way. Carting off the results to the morgue makes for a much simpler report (and less crime) than a useless unsolvable crime report that would only lead to a habitual criminal's temporary lockup even if they did catch the perp.

Posted by: ubu at January 7, 2004 at 06:32 AM

One of my female friends used to carry a water pistol filled with bleach in her pocket when she went out jogging at night.

Has the additional advantage of making it harder for a thwarted assailant to identify you in court if he takes it into his insolent head to sue you.

Posted by: Noami Kleimpsky at January 7, 2004 at 06:35 AM

Good shot!!!

"In February, 2002, the South Bend, Indiana Tribune reported the story of an 11-year-old boy who shot and killed a man holding a box cutter to his grandmother's neck. Trained to use a firearm, the boy killed the assailant in one shot, even though the man was using his grandmother as a shield."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,107274,00.html

Now that is some shooting....of course if he hadn't shot the attacker we would be reading about a rape, vicious assault, or murder.

Something to think about....what if Nicole Brown Simpson had been carrying a gun the night she was attacked and then murdered? Her attacker's dead body on the ground sure would have answered the question of who really wanted to (and succeeded in) killing her.

"Better to be judged by twelve, then carried by six" definitely applies here.

Posted by: Jeff at January 7, 2004 at 06:47 AM

Not to get too far off topic, but I don't give ANY credence to crime statistics. My south Texas weekly crime report (w/ pictures) lists every black as black; every white as white; and every Hispanic as.......WHITE. No Hispanic has every committed a crime in my town. If you can't even get race correct (for whatever reason) why would I believe any other stats?

Posted by: Steve at January 7, 2004 at 06:58 AM

The suburban communities around Milwaukee, Wisconsin have far higher gun ownership than the City of Milwaukee. Milwaukee has far higher gun crime than the suburban communities.

I got an insight into this seeming contradiction from a lawyer familiar with Milwaukee courts. He tells me that typically a robber would rent a gun and bullets from someone in his circle and later pay for any bullets used when returning the gun. It doesn't take many guns to supply a wide clientele. Someone should do a "study" of this.

Posted by: Fred Boness at January 7, 2004 at 07:36 AM

As I recall Australia effectively bans pump shotguns as well. So the Remy 870 is probably right out for Tim, too.

It's getting to be that ancient military tactics are becoming useful again. The antiglobo vs. police fights are looking a lot like Greek era combat--shields, helmets, short striking weapons. Maybe a shield and a short sword would work for home defense.


Posted by: Ernst Blofeld at January 7, 2004 at 07:44 AM

"One of my female friends used to carry a water pistol filled with bleach in her pocket when she went out jogging at night.

Has the additional advantage of making it harder for a thwarted assailant to identify you in court if he takes it into his insolent head to sue you."

That's insane. Instead of getting mugged, you get maimed or killed by an enraged perp.

Self-defense must involve lethal force. Tasers and chemical sprays won't reliably get the job done.

Posted by: Floyd McWilliams at January 7, 2004 at 08:04 AM

When I first visited my girlfriend's family in Sweden I was impressed how her kid brother left his nice bike outside unsecured. Apparently you could safely do this in Sweden. Everyone did it. Shortly after his bike was stolen. One myth shattered. About a week later we stumbled across two police officers who had caught a middle-aged guy stealing kids bikes from outside a train station. The cops had given this guy a hiding. He had skin off his knees and elbows and he looked shit scared. The Swedish cops gave us their version of "nothing to see here" as they dragged the guy off. Myth number two shattered. The nanny state can be quite gung-ho and kick your ass despite what they say.

Posted by: Emotional Rex at January 7, 2004 at 08:29 AM

Australia has for all practical purposes banned ownership of private hand guns and rifles. Some citizens can still own guns but the regulations make it nigh on impossible. I generally agree with PM Howard on policy but this is a bit rich.

I am not aware of any studies but would like any feed-back on gun crime since the bans began. Has it dropped? Doubt it. Criminals don't feel the same obligation to hand their guns in as do the law abiding population.

Posted by: Jake D at January 7, 2004 at 09:06 AM

am not aware of any studies but would like any feed-back on gun crime since the bans began. Has it dropped?

Vague recollection, too lazy to research, but I seem to recall violent crime in general went up for a few years after the ban and then levelled off. Pretty similar to the British experience. I certainly don't think crime in general went down after the ban. Not sure about crimes involving guns.

Posted by: R C Dean at January 7, 2004 at 09:17 AM

knife crime is on the up according to Vic police

Posted by: Jake D at January 7, 2004 at 09:30 AM

Tim, some of your friends prefer baseball bats?

What's wrong with cricket bats?

Posted by: ilibcc at January 7, 2004 at 09:53 AM

Wait... you can't own a gun there, but you can use your baby as a squeak toy for your pet crocodile? This is what happens when a country is upside-down.

Hold on there Jim.........and have a look at the other video. Amazing what horrifying effects can be produced by networks eager to cut someone down, by carefully selecting camera angles. But that's no surprise really is it?
Steve knows what he's doing mate.......

Posted by: Galen at January 7, 2004 at 09:54 AM

John Howard's absurd and counterproductive gun laws are the biggest blot on his record as PM. Nearly $2 billion spent yet gun crime keeps going up, just as it has done in the UK and Canada. The mind boggles as to how many lives could have been saved if all that money was spent on something useful, like free cancer screening.

Posted by: Byron_the_Aussie at January 7, 2004 at 10:30 AM

Cricket bats should be well looked after. Also, they can become chipped or otherwise damaged by using them on intruders. I keep a baseball bat for use on burglers.

Posted by: Scott Wickstein at January 7, 2004 at 10:31 AM

Scott asks if I "would characterize your neighborhood as particularly bad."

No. It's particularly upper-middle. Forced to live in the bad neighbourhoods, I'd buy a black-market gun.

Posted by: tim at January 7, 2004 at 10:32 AM

One thing I know about crime stats is that they are invariably used to promote the argument of one side or another. Individuals wade into arguments with their mind made up, and use stats to further their own argument.

Crime has many causes, and to try and pin is rise and fall on the incidence of gun ownership, or any one factor, is ridiculous. I have no doubt that gun ownership would play a part in the decision making process of would be crooks - but it is not the be all, end all.

Poverty, poor education, drug addiction and recidivism are the biggest problems in my humble opinion. In the US the rate of incarceration has risen to around 1% of the adult population. IN Aus is stands at around .1%

The solution seems to be to imprision the 1% of pooly educated, poverty ridden recidivist drug addicts and the crime rates drop.

The US example of putting criminals in gaol where they belong, instead of letting them run wild and free, as per the Australian example, looks like the best answer.

Guns I'm indifferent toward.

Posted by: Gilly at January 7, 2004 at 10:34 AM

Tim - I've been robbed at knife-point in my Sydney home, also in an upper-middle suburb.

While I don't see a need for private individuals to own fully-automatic rifles, I'd certainly like to blow a hole in the next bastard who tries to rob me. I'd switch my vote if one of the parties had the guts to return gun ownership to the people.

Hell, our wonderful state government doesn't even allow us to purchase fireworks. Miserable bastards.

As for cricket vs. baseball bats: A cricket bat just isn't balanced right for hitting people with. It works, but it doesn't feel right. A steel bar is better for indoor use, as you don't need nearly as much room to swing.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at January 7, 2004 at 11:22 AM

Forget about a baseball bat, what you really ought to get is a six-cell Maglite flashlight. It's perfectly legal, easy to explain ("it's for blackouts, officer"), and it's a heavy metal club that could easily crack any skull or bone you decide to swing at. I keep mine right next to the head of my bed.

If you can't get one in Australia, e-mail me and I'll see if I can ship one to you. They're less than twenty dollars US in Wal-Mart.

PS- Using mace or pepper spray inside is going to hurt you just as much as it would hurt the burglar, so don't consider the sprays for home defense.

PPS- If you do use a baseball or cricket bat, be sure you don't have narrow hallways or low ceilings; an involuntarily checked swing could be fatal in a home invasion.

Posted by: Toby S. at January 7, 2004 at 11:25 AM

A sturdy fireplace poker is good. You can swing or stab.

Posted by: scott h. at January 7, 2004 at 11:35 AM

Defending yourself with a baseball bat is un-Australian. Use a cricket bat.

Posted by: Mike Hunt at January 7, 2004 at 12:09 PM

G'Day Mike Hunt and others suggesting cricket bats

A baseball bat (or in my case a T-ball bat) is vastly superior for self defence. Hitting someone with the flat of a cricket bat is not very effective as there is a wide area of impact (e.g. you get your impact spread across 12 or more square inches compared to three or less for a baseball bat). If you hit with the edge of the cricket bat you have to get your aim perfect as there is a nasty tendency for the bat to flip to its flat on impact (which can seriously damage your wrists on a hard blow).

A cricket bat is a serious sporting instrument, a baseball bat is just a very effective club.

Posted by: Russell at January 7, 2004 at 12:33 PM

Your best defense Tim, would be to challenge the hypocrisy of government officials who oppose gun ownership by the general population while they position themselves behind a wall of armed security.

Posted by: Fred Boness at January 7, 2004 at 12:33 PM

The link to gun suicides is a classic statistical fishing expedition. What a load of bunk.

I'm surprised nobody's done a google search yet. There's heaps of research showing that guns reduce crime and that gun control is strongly linked to increasing crime. Here's a book for example: http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.,bookID.605/book_detail.asp It's published by a serious scholar and full of facts a bit more substantial than the number of people topping themselves.

I know there's heaps more, been reading it for years.

The classic example is Switzerland, guns are everywhere thanks to the citizen army. Crime is low.

Posted by: Pedro at January 7, 2004 at 12:47 PM

Half a pool cue in your left hand, and the cue ball in your right (if you are a righty).

The cue ball for distance ... cue for close in.

Posted by: Bruce at January 7, 2004 at 12:51 PM

I have a good old-fashioned, fish f***er beside the bed. (Used to put large fish to "sleep" immediately, rather than letting them suffocate.) It's a mini-baseball bat, only about 45 cm long, turned from very solid jarrah. Less liable to get caught on a door jamb or wall when I swing. There's also the compound bow and arrows on the wall mount in the "parents' retreat" just outside the bedroom door.

Incidentally, the esteemed Phillip Cook is a noted (or notorious) anti-gun campaigner -- he is NOT recognised for his unbiased "research".

Where I live, we have one of the highest incidences of home invasions in the nation -- and my rifles are locked, disassembled, in a steel cabinet, bolt and ammo locked in another compartment separately, keys hidden (because my wife's not allowed to know where they are -- by law).

Damn you Howard and all the gutless, spineless wonders who believe they have a right to disarm us.

Posted by: BruceT at January 7, 2004 at 01:05 PM

Here'a another gun control book for anyone who is interested: http://www.thbookservice.com/bookpage.asp?prod_cd=C5822

Another thing, you'd better be careful if you take a bat to a burglar. You could get prosecuted for using unreasonable force. He might get done for stealing, but you could have an assault and GBH on your record.

We need the right to own guns and to shoot any bastard who breaks in.

Posted by: Pedro at January 7, 2004 at 01:07 PM

Pedro writes: "Here's a book for example: http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.,bookID.605/book_detail.asp It's published by a serious scholar and full of facts a bit more substantial than the number of people topping themselves."

John Lott is not a serious scholar. Serious scholars do not pretend to be a woman on the net and write that Lott "was the best professor that I ever had". Serious scholars do not fabricate research.

Ayres and Donohue found hundreds of mistakes in Lott's data. When they corrected them, Lott's results went away. What did Lott do? He changed his model to bring the results back and tried to pretend that he hadn't changed it.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at January 7, 2004 at 01:12 PM

I recently posted on this very topic. Australia's weapons licensing laws are some of the most restrictive in the western world. I believe that the governments of Australia will allow you to have firearms, but make it so difficult to actually be licenced and purchase a firearm, that most people give up in frustration.
Click here to read some of the more interesting statistics about firearms death in Australia.

Posted by: Chief Bastard at January 7, 2004 at 01:47 PM

Too many people argue about whether guns or the death penalty deter crime. Deterrence is not important. We should own firearms and execute murderers simply because, in both cases, it's the right thing to do. I would not consider myself a moral, civilized person if I were unarmed. Remember that evil people will win if good people do not fight back.

P.S. If you don't like guns, don't buy one. I am armed, so please respect my right to choose.

Posted by: George L. at January 7, 2004 at 01:53 PM

Burglary rates in the roughly three times higer in the UK than in the US. Homicide rates are roughly three times higher in the US than the UK.

It must be some comfort knowing that your property is safe as you lie dying from a gunshot wound someplace.

In the United States 14.24 people per 100,000 die each year from guns. In Australia the figure is 2.65. In the UK it is 0.41.

The gun death rate dropped 30% in Australia when restrictions on semi-automatic weapons were tightened after the Port Arthur massacre.

I'm glad Tim can't get a gun.

Posted by: Target at January 7, 2004 at 02:08 PM

I notice that 'Target' compares U.S. and U.K. rates for "homicide", not "murder". Isn't killing in self-defense in most of the U.S. called "justifiable homicide" and isn't that not a crime at all? If so, I wonder:

1. How do the rates for "murder" compare? I suspect the disparity is rather smaller.

2. Is the burglary rate is lower in the U.S. at least in part because so many burglars are quite legally subjected to justifiable homicide? It would tend to cut down on the number of recidivists.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil at January 7, 2004 at 02:47 PM

'Remember that evil people will win if good people do not fight back.'

Well said, George L. An eternal truth too often forgotten.

And Target, the ratios of UK and US burglaries and homicides do not necessarily lead to your observation that 'it must be some comfort knowing that your property is safe as you lie dying from a gunshot wound someplace'.

Posted by: ilibcc at January 7, 2004 at 03:12 PM

Let evolution take its course. Those of you who think guns are icky should uh, stick to your guns as the saying goes and proudly make your homes gun free zones (properly marked as such, of course). Over time your numbers will decline by predation until you are no longer politically significant.

Posted by: Fred Boness at January 7, 2004 at 06:05 PM

Gee, Mr. Lambert, we know you hate John Lott, but do you have anything to say to buttress YOUR position?

Recently the US Centers for Disease Control did a study to figure out if gun control laws did anything to curb violent crime. They found NO EVIDENCE.

Now the CDC is no friend to gun rights. It wants to treat "gun violence" as a disease. Yet even they couldn't find any solid proof that gun control does ANY good.

Since you disagree with their findings, I assume they must be liars and fabricators, too?

Posted by: Alec at January 8, 2004 at 12:42 AM

Target --

First, you need to get your facts straight. According to Interpol, the overall rate of US homicide is 5.41 per 100k. Not, 14 just for guns as you report.

http://www.interpol.com/Public/Statistics/ICS/2001/usa2001.pdf

In Australia, it is 3.62.

(http://www.interpol.com/Public/Statistics/ICS/2000/australia2000.pdf)

However, the rate of breaking and entering is 2,280 in Australia vs. 740 in the US. Rates of "serious assualt" are 318 in US vs. 736 in Australia.

So, while the murder rate in the US is somewhat higher, chances are still miniscule. Whereas for these other types of crime one is hundreds or a thousand times more likely to be a victim.

Its akin to careening down the highway drunk at dangerous speeds and being worried about being struck by lightening.

Posted by: peter at January 8, 2004 at 01:30 AM

Oh, and in Sweden, home of the women to whom Steyn is addressing in this colum, the volume of crime per 100,000 residents is 13,350 vs. 4,160 in the US.

Even more troubling is the fact that numbers are moving in opposite directions. Plus, in the US 16% of all crime is committed by juveniles vs. 25% in Sweden. For most theft and robbery categories the figure is closer to 50%. This does not bode well for their future.

In the US you've got a lot of repeat offenders who grew up on crime during the more crime ridden 70s and 80s. Eventually, they are going to grow old and stop or end up in jail. This is happening to some extent as you see in declining crime. It would seem that when todays youths, who have the lowest rates of crime in generations reach prime criminal (and partenting) age they'll both be less likely to be criminals than the previous genearion and less likely to raise children who are. For Sweden and much of Europe where the rate of juvenile crime is exploding the opposite will be true. Good luck to you,

Posted by: peter at January 8, 2004 at 01:53 AM

I don't give a fuck about the broader social implications of my guns.

I want 'em, they make me safer, and they are no threat to my neighbors (provided, of course, that my neighbors are no threat to me).

Given this set of facts, I can see no justification for government involvement in my decision to own guns and keep a nice high-capacity pistol fully-loaded and close to hand.

Posted by: R. C. Dean at January 8, 2004 at 01:56 AM

Peter, the homicide rate in Australia is half of the figure you claim. The Interpol figure is for homicides + attempted homicides.

Alec, nice attempt to change the supject, but it's obvious you don't know what my position is.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at January 8, 2004 at 02:25 AM

Huh? Change the subject?

Let's see, you brought up a "study" that uses a hilariously silly proxy for determining gun ownership, and instead of defending said thesis, you go on about John Lott.

Nice try yourself, Mr. Lambert.

Posted by: Alec at January 8, 2004 at 02:29 AM

Alec, I didn't introduce Lott to the discussion. I didn't think the attacks on the proxy merited a response -- mostly they didn't even understand what the proxy was.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at January 8, 2004 at 03:11 AM

"I didn't think the attacks on the proxy merited a response -- mostly they didn't even understand what the proxy was."

Duh? What's a proxy? Cook and Ludwig are saying that, like, gun suicides cause burglaries. Right?

Posted by: Floyd McWilliams at January 8, 2004 at 04:22 AM

To summarize --

The bottom line is that more guns = more gun crime (just like more peanut butter = more alergic reactions to peanut butter). However, a society w/ more guns = less crime overall when comparing the US to Australia, UK or Sweden. That, my friends, is a statistical fact.

Posted by: peter at January 8, 2004 at 04:34 AM

Riiight. We're too stupid to understand your sci-entific reasonings. Thanks for playing.

Posted by: Alec at January 8, 2004 at 05:46 AM

Lott is actually pretty well respected in the gun debate - Lambert, you should know that. The only truly disreputable researcher is the Belliese (sp?) guy who tried to say guns were not inportant in early America and essentially got caught fabricating research.

The most basic gun control research typically fails to show the improved crime statistics one would expect. Gun related crimes tend to be higher in cities where the strongest gun control laws are in place. US homicide rates are difficult to completely understand because of the fights over gang turf and drug zones, where both aggressor and victim are criminals. The best, strongest correlation would have to be baseline burglary statistics vs. gun ownership in respect to this debate, not the gun suicide correlation, which has been completely refuted because it requires a tortured methodology of analysis to accept (finds a correlation which supports their opinion, rather than a true correlation) and does not stand up to scrutiny in the real debate about gun control in the US - just amongst the gun control fanatic groups. By the way - no major democratic candidates are supporting gun control - the party realizes it is a loser. The American public wants their guns because life experiences tell them guns have a use in their safety. If politicians are for it - they are trying hard not to say anything about it.

There are certainly other factors to the reduced violent crime rate in US - a smaller number of young people, who commit more crimes, and stronger sentencing which keeps more criminals locked up in jail. It is obvious at least that there is a significantly lower chance for you to be robbed at home in areas of high gun ownership. That is an improvement over what the UK and Australia are dealing with.

Gun control geeks just at least need to accept, gun control does nothing to create a safer environment, except for the elimination of the tragic child playing with a gun accident. And the level of crime actually thwarted by gun use needs to be studied more. Police departments don't like to report it (and the cops I know confim this) because they don't like to publically promote gun ownership - police get promoted by saying PC things and supporting gun turn ins. The police chiefs say they like gun control but the guys on the streets know how it really works.

Posted by: JEM at January 8, 2004 at 06:56 AM

Tim there is a saying which I always agreed with that goes like this

"Better to have a gun and not need it, then to need one and not have it."

Posted by: Joel at January 8, 2004 at 07:19 AM

A late entry: a little light reading from The Spectator via Arete about why the righteous need guns.

These people needed guns and didn't have them. The dining chair just didn't cut it.

Posted by: ilibcc at January 8, 2004 at 08:52 AM

Peter, I don't think a comparison with just four countries tells us very much, but if you want to do it, you need to take into account the fact that the murder rate in the US is much much more than that in the other three countries that you mention.

Alec, I didn't say that you were too stupid to understand the paper, but if you want to have a reasonable discussion of the paper, you are going to have to accurately describe what they did instead of criticising them for stuff that they did not do.

JEM, Lott is not well respected in the gun debate. He has been caught fabricating research, and like Bellesiles will probably never get another job as a professor.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at January 8, 2004 at 11:39 AM

Lambert-

Don't think so. Bellesiles own supporters turned on him. Lott's have not - unless something has occured in the last month or so. If that is the case I may have to concede that point. I will look to your repsonse. As to the rest of my post, when will you try and defend your methodology argument - it is the only data that supports gun control?

Posted by: JEM at January 8, 2004 at 03:09 PM

So are land mines not allowed for home defense?

Posted by: ErikZ at January 8, 2004 at 05:20 PM

I am a gun nut, but sorry to disappoint you, but the cops I know don't much like private handgun ownership. (Let me stress *handgun* ownersnhip.)

Get a shotgun!

Handguns account for 10,000 innocent deaths a year in the US and you're far more likely to kill your cat or your neighbor than a criminal with a handgun. And kids finding handguns is an emmense national tragedy.

Want to protect yourself at home -- GET A SHOTGUN. They work a lot faster, they don't have to be pointed with any degree of accuracy, and the small shot are less likely to pass through brick walls and kill somebody in the house next door. Besides, a lot fewer people kill themselves with shotguns, if that means anything, and small kids can't pick them up.

I was a competition marksman in my youth, and firmly believe that laying rapid fire artillery should become an Olympic sport. But like the great Quigley of movie fame, "I have no use for handguns."

Posted by: Mardukhai at January 8, 2004 at 09:24 PM

tim

for car defense in the big city, philadelphia where breaking into cars is a way of life for some, i use a sign a printed up.

Caution: Live Snakes
Please do not disturb the snakes.
for more information
www.snakes.com

seemed to work pretty well

then advertising friends who were all cracked up over the the sign (i laughed for the first 6 months every time i came to my car) after photographing it to show their clients successful advertising, suggested a new sign for the side triangular window,(the one often broken)

it says:

Please check for snakes before reaching under seats.

a few months later i made one for the other side of the car:

Before moving vehicle, please make sure snakes are not intertwined in controls


works like a charm

i can leave my car open with the keys in it.

comments from people

"the kids were playing basketball and the ball hit your car, will the snakes come out?"

"we are sitting on the lawn instead of working in your dads house because we though you might have brought the snakes in last night, it was cold"

when i would leave my car unused for the work week in center city philly

i would leave a bowl of water and dog food ( i have a real dog) and a blanket stretched over a bungee cord in the back of the station wagon to protect the snakes, a little snake house

it is an IQ test over 120 people laugh, under 120, "do you have snakes in there?"

hysterical.

works for the home too.....

the huge dog bowl with food and enormous chain left in yard ( no dog needed)

the muddy size 15 construction boots outside door
(no man needed)

be creative,....and careful with those weapons


Posted by: iceman at January 8, 2004 at 10:50 PM

Well, Mr. Lambert, I guess I'm waiting for that huge study to show where gun control actually works. So far, all you've done is say: "No, you're wrong," and rip on John Lott.

That's all well and good, but if you're going to throw rocks at John Lott for junk science, you'd better expect an avalanche in respose, given the flimsy and pathetic methodology used to try to support gun control.

People are usually shocked to learn that I used to be a gun supporter and changed my mind solely because the fact didn't support my opinion. The more I looked at what "my side" was saying, the more obvious it became that I was on the losing end of the argument. Gun control doesn't work, hasn't worked, and never will work.

Is the US murder rate higher than that of the UK, Canada and Australia? Yep. It's also more ethnically diverse.

What is interesting is that all four of these jurisdictions used to have the same gun policy: anyone who wanted a gun just bought one.

Since those laws diverged, it is interesting to see crime RISE in the gun control jurisdictions and FALL in the areas where gun owners are largely left alone.

If guns cause crime, Vermont should be a shooting gallery and Washington D.C. should be a peaceful as, well, Vermont.

You see, Mr. Lambert, I am now in the happy position of not having to prove much of anything. If John Lott is wrong, and guns don't lower crime, it's okay. You still have to prove that gun control does any good. Even if Lott is tarred and feathered, that hurdle isn't even close to being crossed.

If even the CDC concedes that gun control's claims of reducing violence are bogus, who then do you turn to? You'll need more than John Lott's scalp to win this argument.

Posted by: Alec at January 9, 2004 at 01:05 AM

I don't bother with the sign, I just have a real snake in the car. If they break in, fuck 'em.

Posted by: ilibcc at January 9, 2004 at 09:50 AM