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August 25, 2007



It's not just that good people feel powerless. They feel that if they step in to try to improve things, the power of the state will be wielded against them.


Hi S & M

You're right of course. There's also another important contributory factor. The killing of children is publicly perceived as particularly abhorrent and the deliberate killing of a child by another child virtually incomprehensible. Such events are very rare as you say but their perceived gravity makes them appear more influential. After such events, there is a universal demand that 'this must never happen again'. Like the killing of three year old James Bulger in the 90s by two 12 year old boys, this tragedy seems to have been a random or mistaken killing. We can do nothing to prevent random events.

I live in a part of the country where there are gangs and there are guns. You hear kids talk about guns on the bus. Probably they're bragging but most likely, they at least know someone with a gun. Unless you foolishly take yourself into the middle of a dark park in the middle of the night or to a crack den, you are unlikely, in the normal course of events to see a gun, even in Hackney.

But in places where access to guns is much easier (the USA springs to mind), the incidence of kids being killed with guns is higher so it makes sense to limit access to them by whatever means is available. Political manipulation is inevitable. Politicians are expected to speak out about events like this. If they didn't the public would be screaming that they didn't care.



Mike Woodhouse

The killing of children by children, given the evident availability of lethal weapons, seems entirely possible to a parent, amoral little creatures that they are.

Politicians, as they progress (to my cynical mind) become less about changing things for the better and more about retaining power. Obvious, really - once it's your livelihood, it's about keeping your job, after all. So they become more and more obsessed with maintaining the appearance of "getting things done" and less and less about actually doing anything useful. They therefore panfder to the press, who exercise their influence as the politicians' need becomes more apparent. And we get positive feedback of the worst kind.

The Americans are probably further down this particular tawdry road, but we're hard on their heels. More fool us.

Maynard Handley

"When Goldman Sachs' David Viniar wibbled recently about 25 standard deviation events, we all laughed at him. But he was at least asking an intelligent question: how likely are the events we've seen? "

We laughed at him not for asking a new and novel question, but for pretending that he had no idea of the answer to a question that has been asked and answered many times before.

When someone goes to the casino convinced that their new method for betting on roulette based on the song currently playing in the casion will make them rich, leaves poor, and asks "what are the odds that I would lose in this game" we don't applaud them as some sort of visionary in the field of probability; we rightly peg them as an idiot.

Bob B

S&M: "The fact is, it's very rare for youngsters to carry guns or knives, let alone use them"

Times are changing. In the Sunday press:

"The Home Office figures - which exclude crimes involving air weapons - show the number of deaths and injuries caused by gun attacks in England and Wales soared from 864 in 1998-99 to 3,821 in 2005-06. That means that more than 10 people are injured or killed in a gun attack every day."

john b

Bob, did you even look at Chris's linked evidence? It was data from 2005 on how many kids carry knives and guns, and the answer was 'very few'.

Bob B

John B - However many kids own or have access to guns, we are confronted by the horrific Home Office figures showing, "the number of deaths and injuries caused by gun attacks in England and Wales soared from 864 in 1998-99 to 3,821 in 2005-06. That means that more than 10 people are injured or killed in a gun attack every day."

If not many kids have guns, they have evidently each been increasingly active.

Btw how do we know how many kinds own or have ready access to guns since they are unlikely to volunteer that information?

I read that in some places, those with the right connections can easily hire guns at moderately low cost. Presumably, that would be due to the prevailing balance between supply and demand

By comparison, we are more likely to have broadly accurate figures on the numbers of gunshot victims as they tend to end up either in morgues or in hospitals undergoing trauma surgery.

Besides the issue of gunshot homicides, the number of homicides has been increasing according to this report in the press last year:

"Cases of murder and manslaughter have risen by almost a quarter since Labour came to power, Home Office figures have revealed. Since 1997, the number of homicide victims, including solved and unsolved cases, has averaged 737 per year. In the period from 1990 to 1996, the average was 601. The number of homicide victims has averaged 737 per year since Labour came to power."

David Duff

Forget about our host's recommendation to sample Table 2.6, instead, try Box 1.1 on page 13 which will tell you that the whole rag-bag of spurious statistics based on interviews with sundry 'youfs' and 'youfettes' is on about the same level of reliability as the immigration figures. Your average big city vicar is more worldly than the dopes and dupes who conducted these 'interviews'.

'Bob B', above, quite rightly paraphrases the words of an old-time copper, "Never mind the legalisms, just count the bodies!"

Our host, normally a man of shrewd judgement, in this case must be suffering from the effects of the unexpected sunshine because, of course, it is not the particular numbers that are important, it is the trend. And I don't care how many Home Office statisticians dance on the head of a pin, I can tell you for an absolute fact that hardly any children went around blowing away other children during the 1950s.

Also, the murder rate in 1960 was around 250 but today it is around 750. What are the chances of me being murdered by an adult or a child? Disappointingly tiny, some of you may think. You would be right, but there-in lies the liberal selfishness and lack of empathy. If it hasn't happened to me, why should I worry over much if it happens to some one else? Particularly if they live in some grotty northern city. Pass the Pino Grigio, darling.

john b

Bob (and others): if you haven't already, check out Unity's piece debunking the horribly misleading stats cited by David Davies:

Duff: do you seriously think the direction the yoof would lie is *downwards*?

David Duff

John, the question that needs to be asked is: how in hell do you know *who* is lying? If, and only if, that can be answered with any degree of confidence is it worth trying to sort the boasters from the hard cases.

Face it: the whole thing's not worth a bucket of spit!

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