Gun Control: The “Europe” Argument

One common argument brought up by gun control proponents is the idea that Western Europe, particularly England, has lower gun murder rates than here in the United States.  This article is to help gun rights advocates respond in an educated manner to this argument, because while the statement is true, it is flawed on a number of fronts.

First, people will claim that England has had only 1 mass shooting in recent history, while the United States has had many of them.  They are referring to the Cumbria shootings in 2010, when a gunman killed 12 people and injured 11 more.

A couple of facts need to be mentioned to bring this into perspective.  England has 53 million people, while the United States has 311 million people.  I think this picture makes my point clear.

North America eats Europe.

North America eats Europe.

In order to compare mass shootings between Europe and the United States, you have to essentially include the entire continent of Europe to get a fair comparison.

If you’re wondering how many mass shootings the United States has had versus Europe right now, you’re asking the right question.

The answer?  Using the FBI’s definition, meaning shootings where 4 or more people are killed, between 2001 and 2010, Europe has had 13, the United States has had 7.

That’s right, Europe, whose countries have much more stringent gun control laws across the board, has had more mass shootings than we have had.  In fact, the numbers match up with overall population numbers almost exactly.  This means that you’re going to have about the same percentage of crazy people anywhere you go, and those crazy people are going to be able to get their hands on guns no matter what your laws are at about the same rate.

Now, they will say that England has a murder rate of 1.2 per 100,000, while the United States has a murder rate of 4.8 per 100,000, 4 times more.  This is also true (if they claim the difference is more, they’re incorrect).  However, their murder rate has been much lower than ours for over a century.  In fact, their murder rate went up from 1.5 to to 2.1 in the 6 years following their gun ban.  This means that their gun ban cannot possibly be the cause of their lower murder rate.  Some other factor (cultural, economic, access to health care) must be the actual reason.

When you dig a little deeper into the facts surrounding the “Europe” argument, one quickly realizes that there’s nothing about Europe that suggests that banning guns is the solution.

If you are asked where the source of this information comes from, here is a set of sources for you to direct people to:

Murder Rates by Country: United Nations

Mass Shootings in Europe: Gun Control and Mass Murders (Published June 2010)

Mass Shootings in the United States: NY Crime Commission (An Anti-Gun Group)

Update 12/19/2012 10:00PM:  Someone pointed out Europe’s population doubles that of the United States.  Yes, this is why I said that Europe’s 13 shootings to the United State’s 7 mirrors population patterns.  Also, the article recounting Europe’s mass shooting limits itself to Western Europe.  If we were to account for Eastern Europe’s shootings, the numbers would skew in favor of the United States.

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