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Libertarian Issues

badnarikMichael Badnarik is the Libertarian candidate in the U.S. presidential election. Early last week, I visited his website, which is full of policy material. I read with interest and without too much disagreement his position papers on Free Trade, Iraq and Marijuana. Unfortunately, when I got to the Gun platform, there was a problem.

It was no big surprise that the Libertarians are strict constructionists when it comes to this part of the Constitution:

"Don't even THINK about taking my guns! My rights are not negotiable, and I am totally unwilling to compromise when it comes to the Second Amendment.
And, while I viscerally detest guns of all kinds and wish they were gone, my anarchism would never allow me to artifically restrict their availability. However, because he is so powerfully in favour of wide gun ownership, Badnarik oversteos the truth in defense of his position. He writes:
"England and Australia have recently instituted strict gun control measures, and both countries have seen the statistics on violent crime quadruple."
Powerful evidence if true. However, it is clearly and demonstrably false. In fact, according to the best statistics I could find, violent crime in England and Wales has actually fallen by 45% since 1995.

None of this is a major problem; an inaccurate statistic has been used, and can easily be changed or dropped. With that in mind, I wrote to Badnarik's Communications Director pointing out the error. He wrote back saying that he was new but would pass it on to his boss, thanking me for pointing out the error. The next day, last Wednesday, I was contacted by Barbara Goushaw-Collins, Associate Manager:

"Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will check with Mr. B on it, as soon as we speak again (he is on the road right now) and determine where he got this information. If it is inaccurate we will change it, with my thanks."
Five campaign days later and there is no change to the policy paper; the inaccurate data is still being used to reinforce a major plank in their platform. Does this mean they really think their figures are correct , or does it mean they are in no big rush to correct a lie? Frankly, I'm disappointed.

July 12, 2004 in Campaign 2004, Libertarian Party | Permalink

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Tracked on Jul 14, 2004 2:43:35 PM

Comments

The guy is obivously in no rush to correct the statement. Anyone who's reasonably honest and who has any kind of working BS meter would never state that violent crime in Australia or Britian had quadrupled over a few years -- it's just so obviously bogus.

The main complaint about Britain's gun ban is that robbery and murder have increased a lot since the ban was implemented: http://www.murderuk.com/misc/stats.htm and http://www.crimestatistics.org.uk/output/page21.asp

Posted by: Peter Caress | Jul 13, 2004 2:18:37 PM

Or, far more likely, everyone with the campaign is REALLY busy, and nobody has had a chance to correct this.

FYI, while you found stats that seem to argue, if you google around, you will find places that quote similar stats to Badnarik's... as they say "lies, damn lies, and statistics", it depends on who is making the stats. I've seen good arguments to the idea that "reported" violent crime has changed, but not actually violent crime.

As for the facts, our factchecker will hopefully look into it soon.

Posted by: Seth Cohn | Jul 14, 2004 10:54:59 AM

BTW, a quick look at the site you mentioned shows:

http://www.crimestatistics.org.uk/output/page38.asp

Which shows (gasp)
'Violence against the person' - Long-term national recorded crime trend

and it's up around 400% (from 1995)... and they even admit they changed how they categorized things.

Posted by: Seth Cohn | Jul 14, 2004 11:03:40 AM

Quite right, Ms. Cohn. I apologize for questioning the candidate's honesty -- it was totally unwarranted.

Posted by: Peter Caress | Jul 15, 2004 4:57:07 AM