I haven't seen any of my able comrades give Pat McIlheran his always deserved upbraiding this week. They still will, hopefully. Let me just point out one thing within the target-rich environment of his column. He said this, while attacking any proposals for legal changes after the Virginia Tech massacre:
Other notions range from the marginal, such as legislating smaller ammo clips (so Cho would have put more in his vest), to the counterproductive, such as banning guns, which Britain's slowly done since 1920. Its disarmed citizens now suffer a higher violent crime rate than we do. The use of guns in crime soared 40% in the years right after its final ban. Even its customarily low homicide rate has risen as ours fell.
Notice how he slips in there at the end a comparison of homicide rate changes? Britain's homicide rate may be trending upward while in the U.S. it is going down. But let's be clear here. The recent rates in Britain are still around 14 people murdered per million of population (in 1997, according to a Parliament website) while in the U.S. it is down from about 100 in the early 1990s to now 60 per million (in 2002, according to the Dept. of Justice). That means there is still a lot more murder in the country that has not banned guns.
I'm not saying my stats prove anything in the gun control debate. But McIlheran's numbers don't say what he wants us to think they say. This fits a pattern: I am often spurred to respond to gun-lobby operatives mainly because they are as smug as they are specious. I've written before about the dishonesty of their drive to keep all information about concealed carry permit holders secret. Once again, finding holes in their arguments is like shooting fish in a barrel.