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Fact check: Charlie Kirk’s beloved US-UK violent crime stat

The result may surprise you

August 28, 2018

12:24 PM

28 August 2018

12:24 PM

The New York Times’s journalists, as weve said, have a rather strange anti-British fixation at the moment…but they aren’t the only ones.

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk has become a creature of habit when it comes to comparing the levels of violent crime between Western nations. On Tuesday morning, two days after a mass shooting at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Flor., he bravely tweeted: ‘Facts: UK: 933 violent crimes per 100,000 people. US: 399 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Gun confiscation doesn’t work.’

This, Charlie thinks, is a Really Good Own. Which is why he repeats it so regularly. Here he is tweeting the same statistic the day after the nationwide March for Our Lives event.

Here he is, tweeting it on the day of the 17-minute high school walkout.

And here he is in October 2017, four days after the Mandalay Bay casino shooting in Las Vegas, Nev.

Sure, if the land of chimney sweeps and bad dentistry were a more violent place than America, this statistic would bear repeating. But is that the case?

The source of Charlie’s mere ‘399 violent crimes per 100,000‘ seems to be the 2012 US Peace Index by the Institute of Economics and Peace. This in turn draws numbers from the 2010 FBI Uniform Crime Report, which defines violent crime as ‘homicide, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.’

The ‘933 violent crimes per 100,000’ number seems to come from the 2012  UK Peace Index, also by the Institute of Economics and Peace. The Institute appear to have deleted the original report, as referred to in the BBC story above, but a version of the 2013 UK Peace Index can be found on their website. Here, the Institute explain it’s harder to define violent crime when it comes to analysing the UK statistics:

‘There are differing definitions of violent crime used across countries. In order to try and standardize the data as much as possible across peace indices, IEP uses the FBI’s definition of violent crime, which encompasses aggravated assault, rape, and robbery. For the UKPI, this means that violent crimes are those offences that fall under the category “violent offences – with injury”, except for homicides as well as sexual offences and robbery offences.’

So six years ago, you were more likely to be the victim of a violent crime in the UK than in the US. But what about your chances of surviving one? The 2013 report dedicated a whole section to the differences between crime in the UK and US. It states:

‘Homicides as a proportion of total violent crimes are almost 10 times higher in the US than in the UK. Access to guns in the US contributes to the high percentage of homicides by firearms, where two out of three homicides are caused by guns. On the other hand, only one in 13 homicides are caused by firearms in the UK…although the UK may have a higher violent crime rate than the US, the likelihood of a weapon being used in a violent crime is higher in the US than the UK. ’

Whatever the rights and wrongs of gun ownership, nobody benefits from skewed figures.

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