Before I shock you with disturbing facts, let me ask you a question: How important is reality to you? That’s a strange question, I know, but think about it for a second. If reality makes you uncomfortable, what should you do?
Should you ignore it? Should you face it anyway? Should you find reasons to get rid of it?
You will find nothing in this article about amendments, laws and judges. What you will find here is a fact that has been passed-over by the gun control argument.
Here it is; it’s really simple, so think about it for a few seconds:
The anti-gun arguments presume that the state is morally superior to individuals.
Even though they seldom say it explicitly, the gun control proponents believe that average people are too violent and erratic to hold guns. They want the government – the state – to take our guns away because only the state is responsible enough to handle serious weapons.
There is, however, a gigantic problem with this: States are far more dangerous than individuals.
20x more dangerous…
That’s a demonstrable fact, by the way, not merely an opinion. I ran the numbers, and it isn’t even close.
According to the UN’s statistics, total number homicides in which guns were involved in 2010 (or the most recent year reported) were 93,414.
I am as sure as I can be that those numbers are juiced – I have too much experience with the UN (another set of stories, for another day) to think that they left their agendas outside as they crunched these numbers – and I am going to ignore the inclusion of thousands of deaths in Mexico and other places that should be attributed to the US War on Drugs. I’ll accept the numbers as they are.
So, let’s say that guns are legitimately and primarily involved in all of these 93,414 cases. Maybe you think that’s a pretty bad argument for the moral superiority of individuals. But if so, take a deep breath and gather your moral courage. You ready?
The death rate for states is more than 20 times as high.
This figure has been well-documented, by the way. If you want to check it, start with political scientist R.J. Rummel’s Book, Death By Government. (The actual figure may be higher than 200 million.)
So, 93,414 x 100 = 9,341,400 people killed with guns over a century. That’s a bad number, but it’s less than 1/20th of the 200 million who were killed by governments.
And so we see reality at odds with conventional wisdom.
Also, the 200 million deaths attributable to governments were over the course of the 20th century, when the average population was far less than what it is now. Population-adjusted, states are probably 30 times more deadly than individuals.
If you think I’m misstating this, please run the numbers yourself.
Death by government is far more likely than dying during a criminal attack
You know this from your personal experience too:
How many fistfights have you seen among the 200 people who live closest to you in the past couple of years? Maybe one? Maybe none?
Among the 200 or so states in this world, there have been at least 30 fights over the same time.
The numbers say that states fight much, much more frequently than do individuals. And they certainly kill far more people when they do fight.
By any objective standard, states have to be considered far more aggressive and violent than individuals. So, who is it that should be really holding the weapons?
The usual argument to the contrary, by the way, goes like this:
GuvBoy: Okay, maybe lots of people were killed by governments, but there were different leaders then!
Freethinkin’Boy: And the morals of politicians have improved? Have their operations substantially changed? They still have the same capital city, right? And they still have a small group of men gathering up all the taxes and ordering everyone else around, right?
GuvBoy: Yeah, but now we have modern, enlightened democracies!
Freethinkin’Boy: I see… please tell me this: Precisely how and when did they become enlightened?
Such arguments, of course, actually have to do with people being emotionally tied to government and afraid to consider otherwise.
The fact is, most people don’t want to hear that the powers in charge are violent – no matter how well documented it may be. But if reality mattered most, it would be the flawed individuals who got the guns, not mega-flawed states.
20 thoughts on “Death by Government 20x More Common than Death by Criminal…”
“FNORD” nothing to see here move along. BLAM BLAM BLAM bystanders FNORD protestors FNORD TERRORIST murdered FNORD killed FNORD eliminated by the Police FNORD Peace Officers.
As a scientist and now economist by training, whilst at school I never realised that the most important classes were English.
The funniest part is that most people worry about mass shootings, but it’s the least likely way to die. Last summer I noted to my gun grabbing colleauges that your odds of dying in a Mass shooting were about 1 in 40 Million while the odds of being killed by the Government were 1 in 40. So you are a million times more likely to be killed by your Government than in a mass shooting.
I’ve been warning in my blogging, podcasting and my opinion column for the American Daily Herald that America is poised to see megadeaths as Rummel’s warned us about (his actual estimate for the 20th century is 262 million, by the by) simply due to far too much unaccountable power in far too few hands.
The hows and whys aren’t that important, the salient fact that Rummel warns us of is that power kills. I’d love to be wrong, but the pattern has repeated itself over and over again throughout history.
Yes, yes, yes. No matter where you are in this world your most deadly enemy is your own government (unless you are being liberated by the US government).
Great article thank you. Btw. Grandpa jack comic book series on guns is presented by jewes for gun rights. It’s very good but you probably have already come across it. Cheers and thanks again.
The source, and in my opinion the only source, of this misperception of reality of which you speak is the common belief that one’s government is for the most part benevolent and therefore deserves support. Most people don’t entertain the possibility that their government could be malevolent, maybe worse. Few recognize that the gigantic blob called government is not “their” government. It’s just an army of occupation.
You’re exactly on the money, Jacob.
And there’s a reason for the ‘common belief’ that you mention: indoctrination plus an incredibly low level of cognitive capacity (which is also due in part of State involvement in education).
Think about the daily grind of the ‘median guy’. He gets up at 7, showers, shaves, dresses and grabs a bite to eat, then it’s off for a 40-minute commute to a cubicle or a factory floor or a building site. 9 hours later it’s back in the car (or the bus or train) for another 40-minutes home. Home at 6:30/7, worn out (and thus suggestible) he parks himself in front of the TV and watches some slickly-produced propaganda told to him by a Serious-looking male newsreader and a hot chick ‘co-anchor’ next to him.
Then it’s dinner, then a comedy where everything is zingers (and the laugh track means it MUST be funny), a cop drama where CSI is perfect and all the cops are straight arrows who get the actual bad guy (or worse, it’s “COPS”), then more news, then bed.
Rinse and repeat.
By the weekend he just wants sport and a few beers.
He’s overweight (almost obese) yet malnourished (almost certainly iodine deficient and vitamin D deficient). And he’s cognitively far below where you might guess.
As for cognition: it may surprise you to know that less than 5% of the population is capable of extracting core concepts from a piece of text (say, a moderately-complex job advertisement). Worse still, almost 50% of the population is incapable of comprehending the instructions on a bottle of prescription meds.
Those are two ACTUAL EXAMPLES from the Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey, and the numbers I cite are from the results of the survey.
If you want to know why it seems like the political class find the propaganda battle such an easy one… <5% of the adult population shows high level (level 5) skills in ANY of the four tested areas in the Adult Literacy and Lifeskills (ALL) Survey: problem-solving, document literacy, prose literacy and numeracy.
The most recent data on this is from OECD and Statistics Canada (2011) Literacy for Life: Further Results from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey: Table 2.3 [p 61] gives the level 4/5 (grouped) breakdown by country.
The decomposition of the grouped level 4/5 data will be the same (broadly) as in Table 1.3 on p21 of US Department of Education, National Centre for Educational Statistics Working Paper No. 97-33 "Adult Literacy: An International Perspective" (1997).
I was never a believer in democracy (on the basis that politics attracts evil sociopaths, and that 100 million dummies should not have the right to dictate what I do) – but the final nail in the coffin was the Pew Poll in 2007 showing that 68% of Americans are prepared to declare openly that they believe that angels and demons are active in their everyday lives. That scares me half to death, and I’m not easily scared.
Lots of good info on the web. This is just one site with Democide data.
Governments have murdered hundreds of millions of their citizens and those under their control. The questions are, then, how is this democide defined, is genocide included, how many have been killed, how do we find this out, and what sources can be used?
Chapter: The new concept of democide: Definition and qualifications 
Table: empirical types of democide 
Paper: Democide versus genocide: which is what?
Article: What is Genocide?
Class syllabus on repression and democide
Appendix: methods and procedures for estimating democide 
Chapter: pre-20th Century democide 
Chapter: estimates, calculations, and sources 
Table: selected democides 
Defining mortacracy as democide and demoslaughter
Who were the Mortacracies of 2005?
If people are so stupid and evil as to not be allowed to live their lives with Liberty; why is it the proposals by politicians, bureaucrats and social engineers always considered good? Are they not also members of the human race?
As Bastiat would say, “are they made of a finer clay?”
You won’t understand a gunless society unless you grew up in one. I got news for you: if the government wants to take you out, a couple of drones will do the job and you will have your guns up your …wazoo. It is rediculous to believe that guns will protect you from modern government. On the other hand, modern firearms are way more powerful than muskets (when the “right to bear” was established) and simply represent too much power in the hands of imperfect people. The problem is not that you are being asked to give your guns to the government. The problem is that you know nothing about gunless culture and that you can’t comprehend it, government aside.
Hey @Nick, you seem to over-estimate the ability of State militaries to ‘get the job donbe’ against insurgents. Have you been paying attention to what’s been going on in Afghanistan over the last, say, 175 years?
Let’s take Afghanistan:
1837: the British – the most powerful Empire in the world up to that point – invade Afghanistan. They have the best trained and best equipped military in the world, and they sent 21,000 troops into Afghanistan in 1838. The Afghans were mostly armed with home-made jezails (a flintlock musket), subsequently memorialised in Kipling’s “Arithmetic on the Frontier” which includes the brilliant line
“Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail”.
The Afghans WON.
The British tried twice more (they never learn, these “Mightiest Military Since Rome” types).
Fast forward to the 1980s… the Soviets had a crack. They had helos, gunships, air superiority, armour – and a modern, well-trained military. And they LOST to a bunch of scraggy goatherds with AK47s (and a very VERY small number of Stinger shoulder-fired SAMs).
Fast forward to 2003: another bunch of clowns styling themselves the Mightiest Army Since Rome is getting its butt kicked from Kunduz to Khandahar… again, by guys with AKs. The Yanks have c130 gunships, drones, B2s, air-superiority… and yet the rear-echelon ground forces can’t get out past the HESCO without getting shot at, and FOBs are death traps (I’ve been to Korengal: nobody could take that land and hold it. Nobody).
It’s over 10 years since the US Death Machine tried to tame the Pashtun, and all they’ve succeeded in doing is making themselves look weak.
And let’s not mention Viet Nam. Another venue in which the “Mightiest Military Since Rome” could not hold the field.
OK… so with all that by way of preamble: do you still think that firepower is the only determinant of success? Think again.
As to your idea that gunless societies are desirable: NOBODY lives in a ‘gunless society’… because the State makes sure ITS goons ALWAYS have guns.
If you mean “a society in which the civilian population have been disarmed”, well I live in one of those (Australia), but let’s just be clear: a platoon-strength team of trained insurgents could tie up the entire police and military of any State for a decade. The key is NOT needing to take and hold territory: if you don’t need to do that, air power, armour and artillery become useless – as does standard position and manoeuvre infantry. Death squads hitting political officeholders and senior cadre in the night FTW.
Honestly dude… I’ve been a .gov “trigger-puller” (back in the 80s), and every soldier I know would tell you the same thing if they were honest. Tech and weaponry and tactics fall to shit once you’re into counter-insurgency. There is no way a State can win a 4th generation war, and 5th gen (where the enemy is domestic) would be even harder.
You are SO RIGHT! And the sooner Americans start shooting down the
anti-liberty invaders, the sooner they can resume being the freest
nation on earth.
@Nick – They taught you how to be a good slave didn’t they? Better to die fighting for freedom on your feet than begging for your life on your knees.
@Nick — “modern firearms are way more powerful than muskets (when the “right to bear” was established)” Trotted out by 2nd amendment disputers tend to forget that “Muskets” WERE the assault rifles of their day (you might have a spear/pike, bow, or even an earlier form of smooth-bore weapon). Is the power of being able to kill ~20 UNARMED people per minute, that much different from 2-3/min of the Musket/Bow?
This is fantastic.
You’re actually comparing gun violence stats in just the US ONLY with all the war violence in the world (which you don’t count as gun violence)? Seriously? Really?
No, NOT the US only. These are World UN stats.
– BTW, For perspective, where are the numbers (over the same time period) for; Population increase, Death by; Auto (with attribution to simple DUI), Medical errors, by Disease, (from non-vaccination?)– even simple Starvation and Water/Sanitation causes? Without something to compare against, these “Domocide” facts are just so much assStatToids — trying to be passed off as some kind of knowledge/information? Doom and Gloom win again!
Your numbers are interesting, but I have some questions and a counterpoint:
— Assuming these numbers are present-day numbers gathered during the current environment in which gun laws are relaxed; does this not imply that gun measures (either for or against more stringent laws) has absolutely no bearing on the numbers related to the “state deaths?”
— If they are current numbers, the incidents are taking place during a period of time when gun laws are lax and given the context of the article, passing legislation would somehow increase or decrease those numbers?
It seems there’s a conflict between the facts and the context. Either relaxed gun laws would prevent this from happening (which obviously is not happening given that the current state of gun laws is quite relaxed), or more stringent gun restrictions would reduce these numbers (which could not occur since the numbers aren’t related to private gun ownership).
“States,” or governments do indeed cause many, many deaths and certainly far more than private gun ownership, but I’m having a bit of trouble understanding the correlation between the two. Indeed, regardless of the appalling volumes of death caused be the actions of government (ours and all others) behavior around the world, I don’t think they can be connected to one another at all.
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