The Piers Morgan-Alex Jones Interview
Piers Morgan recently interviewed Alex Jones (or at least attempted to) on the topic of gun control (watch video). Piers Morgan attempted to begin the discourse the lens of gun-related deaths which are significantly higher in the US (according to Piers, the number was 11,000 in the US vs 35 in the UK). Piers never got any further than this as the majority of this ‘interview’ was a one-way dialogue with Alex Jones ranting about the New World Order and constantly insulting Morgan and the UK in general. Judging by the reactions coming from mainstream news outlets as well as blogosphere and social media, this did more to harm the anti-gun regulation crowd as Piers looked ready to discuss facts while Jones came off as an aggressive bully and paranoid conspiracy theorist.
A Cincinnati Fox affiliate WXIX Reality Check “Debunks” Piers Morgan
As Morgan’s comparative stats quickly became publicized, a Fox affiliate anchor/reality checker, Ben Swann cited some some “countering stats” (watch video). The basic arguments (which I’ve addressed on my previous blog) were:
‘Piers Morgan slightly understated the United Kingdom’s gun deaths.’
While Morgan claims there 35 gun-related murders in the UK , Swann claims this number is actually 59. While the difference is not very consequential, Swann (or for that matter, Morgan) never cited their source (so it’s possible they were using different sources with different standards and/or different years).
‘The US’ homicide rates included “justifiable” homicides.’
Swann breaks down the overall homicide numbers for the US and notes these include “justifiable homicides” and other categories which would seem to lessen the impact of the US’s higher number of homicides. What he didn’t do is provide a comparative number for the UK, and failed to mention that the US pretty much leads the pack among advanced counties when it comes both murder rates and intentional homicides.
‘Despite having the highest rate of gun ownership, the US does not have the highest gun deaths.’
Swann notes that many other countries have higher gun deaths per capita than the US. Of course, these are all undeveloped/developing nations. When only comparing advanced/developed nations (providing a more apples-to-apples comparison) the US is essentially off the charts in not only gun deaths, but as pointed out above, leads the pack in terms of murder and intentional homicide. If one wants to use undeveloped/developing nations as their benchmark they are free to do so, but the comparison seems a bit inappropriate.
The UK has the highest “violent crime rate” in Europe.
Rather than comparing “homicide” or “murder” rates, Swann jumps to comparing violent crime rates. Two problems here:
- Not all violent crimes are equal (murder vs assault/domestic violence)
- The UK classifies “violent crimes” much more broadly (for example, “verbal violence”) than other nations–certainly more than the US.
Did Piers Morgan’s case actually rest on the US-UK gun violence comparison?
Something else to consider is that we never heard Morgan’s entire argument because the bulk of the “interview” was a one-way bullying session. It’s possible that Morgan was building up a broader case but was never given the chance.
Piers Morgan, Alex Jones and UK Violence by Fact and Myth