Letter to the Editor

Comparison of gun statistics

Posted:  Friday, January 18, 2013 - 1:45pm

Dear Editor:

When discussing firearms and gun-regulation, issues of truth and credibility arise. Two letter writers both implied that England (and one, Australia) have much higher violent crime rates – thus problems – than the U.S. because of their alleged “bans” on guns. One must be cautioned when considering comparison of these statistics.

In the U.S., the FBI's “Uniform Crime Reporting Program” (U.C.R.) is the repository for all national, state, and individual agencies. Standards are set for those types of crimes which are included within the cyclical reports. “In the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, the category “Violent Crime” is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.”‘Aggravated Assault' is defined as such: “The UCR Program further specifies that this type of assault is usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or by other means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.”

What does this mean? In U.S. statistics, only felony assaults are included.

In other countries our letter writers refer to all assaults no matter how minor, are counted in their crime statistics. In America, misdemeanor assaults are not included within our UCR statistics of violent crimes, though they may easily outnumber felony assaults by a ratio of seven to one.

What does England consider to be “Violent Crimes?” It is a much broader area than within our UCR, and “the gravity of injury resulting is not the necessarily the determining factor.” Violent offenses include homicide, grievous bodily harm, possession of weapons, threats to kill, harassment offenses, assault without injury, child neglect/cruelty; threatening with weapons, intimate personal violence, and robbery.

England and Wales also include self-reported crimes to the “British Crime Survey” – a systematic victim study by which citizens may disregard contacting the police if they think the offense too trivial, but still wish to report it.

These factors certainly make a big difference. Yet neither letter writer advises their readers of this. Why not? Are they not armed with accurate information? Or do they wish to hide it from us?

Ronald J. Riml
LT, Kankakee, Ill. City Police, Ret.
East Boothbay