Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Violent Crime Falling in the UK, US

The Guardian reports on a falling violent crime rate in the UK and takes a guess at the cause. Not quite a fast reduction, but they say it's fallen "almost" every year since 2001, and 12% in the last year. The Telegraph also weighs in on the trend.

So why is violent crime falling across both the US and UK?

Continual war? Sure, there's old evidence that crime goes up during wartime, not down. But our wars are quite different today than anything we've seen before, specifically in how little pressure society feels from the war. The reduction in young men competing for the same resources in the homeland may reduce the pressures behind crime. We also have an incredible amount of people in prison, though the effects of this are debatable.

So what does this have to do with guns? While we know that the federal crime data demonstrates that crime does not go up when the number of guns in society increases, I think we need to be very careful about putting too much weight on a causal argument that more guns causes less crime. Destroying the argument for a correlation between guns and increasing crime is a good win, and we should leave the casino with that. I'm ashamed to say I've not read John Lott's book More Guns, Less Crime yet, and that may open my eyes, but my sense is that if violent crime is waning across both the US and UK, there's something larger at work.

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