Statistics 101 With Larry Pratt

A study published in the American Journal of Medicine last month shortly after the Navy Yard shooting found that in developed countries the rate of gun deaths is highly correlated with the rate of gun ownership. You might think this would be bad news for Larry Pratt’s “no-compromise” Gun Owners of America. But who needs science when you can make up your own statistics?

In an interview with conservative commentator Tom Woods yesterday, Pratt presented his own statistics to bolster the gun lobby’s orthodoxy that more guns make communities safer.

Pratt first presented the case of the Old West, which he claims was in fact “under control” and “peaceful” because “virtually everybody was armed.” In fact, as law professor Adam Winkler explains, gun violence in the Old West was “far more rare than we commonly imagine”…because most towns had strict gun control measures.

Pratt then tried to prove that gun ownership makes communities safer by comparing Great Britain’s murder rate with that of his home of Fairfax County, Virginia. While Pratt concedes that Britain’s murder rate is “admittedly very low,” he points out that Fairfax County’s is lower, which he chalks up to Virginia’s lax gun laws. What he neglects to mention is that Fairfax County is far from typical of Virginia or the United States as a whole…to start with, it’s the second wealthiest county in Virginia and fourth wealthiest in the entire country. The homicide rate in the entire state of Virginia is significantly higher than that of both Fairfax County and the United Kingdom.

Pratt then goes on to claim that while Britain has a low murder rate, its strict gun laws have made it the “fourth most violent country in the world.” We have no idea where he got that statistic, but claims that the UK is more violent than the United States have been thoroughly debunked.

The Old West was the Wild West only on the screen. In reality, because virtually everybody was armed, the Old West, as you more properly put it, was quite a place under control, peaceful. The shootout at the OK Corral was very atypical.

Now, let’s go over to Britain, because you pointed to them. In Britain, they do have a very low murder rate. But in Fairfax County, Virginia, where Gun Owners of America is located and where people can obtain a concealed carry permit for a firearm rather easily, and where you’ve got to assume that there’s a whole bunch of folks here in Fairfax County that are armed, we have a murder rate at 1 per 100,000. Whereas over in peaceful old England, it’s 1.7 per 100,000 and their violent crime rate, apart from murder – which is admittedly very low – their violent crime rate ranks them as the fourth most violent country in the world after Jamaica, El Salvador and Honduras. Boy, how’s that gun control stuff working out for you now, old Great Britain?
 

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