Thanks for the response Dean, it’s good to have some input. I’d like to say at this point that I don’t believe the UK is a Utopia — far from it — and I’m a great fan of North America, both US and your northern neighbour.
However I think you will find, once the statistics are appropriately analysed, that the UK is significantly safer than the US in almost every serious crime category where they can be readily compared. As with all statistics, people use them selectively for their own purposes and often without critical analysis. The most useful figures I’ve found are in a blog piece — Dispelling the myth. It makes a valiant attempt to distill the statistics from the hype and opinion. The conclusions are as follows:
“While it becomes clear that certain types of offenses are marginally higher in the UK than in the US (robbery and knife crime being more likely in the UK by an order of 1.1 x and 1.27 x respectively) a number of other, more serious offenses, are both marginally and substantially higher in the US. Rape of a female is 1.02 x more likely in the US, while theft of a vehicle is 1.29 x more likely. More disturbingly, burglary is significantly higher at 1.52 x more likely to occur in the US. However, it is at the considerably more, well, violent crimes that America really supersedes England and Wales into its own class. In the United States, you are 6.9 x more likely to be the victim of aggravated assault resulting in serious injury than in the UK. You are 4.03 x more likely to be murdered than in the UK. And more staggeringly (though not surprising) you are 35.2 x more likely to be shot dead in the Unites States than in the UK.”
These figures are from 2011 so a little out of date. However the latest available figures for homicides from 2015 are as follows:
UK — 574 in a population of 57m (England & Wales only, Year to Sept 2015)
US — 14,249 in a population of 318.9m (2014)
Unless my Math (mathematics in the UK) is incorrect, you are 4.5 times less likely to be murdered in the UK than the US.
So I think it is fair to say that the UK is substantially safer for individuals than the US, or at least you are a lot less likely to be seriously assaulted or murdered.
Therefore to claim gun ownership makes individuals safer in any way seems to me a complete myth, generated to a great extent by the NRA, their supporters and the politicians that they support financially. So I repeat my basic tenet, there is no justification at all for gun ownership outside of licensed professionals and even they have their issues. There should however be a right to life, something taken away from 14–15,000 people a year in the US.
God Bless America by all means (though don’t get me started on religion!) but we should be realistic about its issues.