Guns and Lives Take Lives. And This is How Stats Are Manipulated

At some unspecified expense to the country’s beleaguered taxpayers, the South Yorkshire police (UK) run a program called “Guns and Knives Take Lives.” (Yes, people wielding weapons take lives, not the weapons themselves. Can we move on?) The Old Bill created the GAKTL video above for the program’s school-age attendees’ edutainment; to show how hip coppers can be when they gets their freak on. Sorry. To help prevent the tragic loss of life caused by gun and knife crime. thestar.co.uk puts the campaign in its proper perspective, calling it a “crusade” (and somehow resisting the urge to publish the words “if one life is saved”). Five years after launch, the story needs a hook. And so there’s a “landmark”: GAKTL’s been adapted for deaf students. I said . . . PC is as PC does. But the real news is buried at the bottom. GAKTL works! Or does it?

According to the police, 46 per cent of firearms incidents attended by firearms officers in South Yorkshire involved youngsters before the Guns and Knives Take Lives initiative was introduced in 2005. In 2009 it was 12 per cent.

Wait. So the Yorkshire Police do a survey after a firearms incident?

‘Scuse me lad, but before we put the thumb screws on and ask you how young Harry here ended up with a knife half-an-inch longer than regulations permit, can you please tell me if, at any time, you’ve attended our Guns and Knives Take Lives program at your local school? Or . . . I know this is a terrible time Miss. The grief counselor will be over shortly. Meanwhile, just a quick question: have you ever heard of Guns and Knives Take Lives? No, it’s not a nursery rhyme . . .

Just kidding. Obviously, the South Yorkshire Police and the Star are trying to say that there are fewer firearms incidents involving youngsters since the program was launched. Yes, well, how about we define terms? How old is a youngster? According to this report from 2005, UK gun crime was up significantly (more than doubling since 1997) due to gang-related activity. Are they youngsters?

Second, how about we examine, say, all of the possible variables which could account for the [alleged] reduction? Changes in laws, policing techniques, overall demographics (less youngsters?), etc. IF the program is the ONLY significant variable, how about we compare the stats to another area WITHOUT a GAKTL program?

And here’s an interesting statistic from the South Yorkshire constabulary’s cousins over in West Yorkshire: “There were just over 1,222 crimes each year involving firearms, with the majority (72% of crimes) being incidents of criminal damage caused by air rifles.”

Perhaps we can attribute South Yorkshire 34 percent reduction in youngster-involved firearms incidents to a crack down on air rifles. The rules and regs for the toys, I mean weapons, are pretty damn harsh . . .

Any one under the age of 14 can only use an airgun whilst under the direct supervision and control of someone over 21, whilst on private property with the permission of the owner of the premises . . .

Carrying a loaded Air-weapon in a public place 6 months imprisonment and / or £5,000 fine . . .

Killing or injuring any bird or protected animal unless authorised £5,000 fine  . . .

Selling or hiring air weapon or ammunition to person under 17 6 months imprisonment and / or £5,000 fine.

In short, statistics are usually a smoke screen for the truth, which is always more complex and more simple than propagandists make it out to be.

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