January 10, 2012
Last night, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight for a debate with the host. Morgan is a British “citizen” (“subject“?) who has recently been using his platform on CNN to promote the idea that the U.S. Constitution is “inherently flawed” and to advocate stricter, more British-style gun control policies in the U.S. This was Pratt’s second appearance on the show in the past month, having previously appeared in the wake of the Sandy Hook event.
At one point in the exchange (around 11:18 in this video), Morgan says that he “actually dug out the official figures… the homicide figures from guns in England and Wales by comparison to the United States of America going back to 2003,” and proceeds to read off numbers showing that the U.S. has a much higher gun murder rate. Morgan then claims that the lower numbers in England and Wales are “the result” of the “responsible action” taken in “respon[se]” to the 1996 school shooting in Dunblane, Scottland — namely a “handgun and assault weapon ban.”
To begin with, More Guns, Less Crime author John Lott has recently explained that this is a misleading representation of the statistics: Yes, the gun murder rate is relatively low in England and Wales, but it was already low before the ban, and the stats do not show a decrease in murders committed with guns (nor overall murders) since the ban was instituted, as Morgan implies. “There is a difference between levels and changes,” he notes. Meanwhile, The Telegraph reported in 2009 that gun crime had “almost doubled in the last decade”.