11/10/03
WSJ data indicates that Rumsfeld was correct

Early this year there was quite a debate about Rumsfeld and myself discussing the relatively low murder rate in Baghdad. My quoting Rumsfeld

"Yet, despite Iraqis owning machine guns and the country still not under control, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pointed out that Baghdad is experiencing fewer murders than Washington, D.C., where handguns are banned"

apparently outraged many people. Well, it turns out that Rumsfeld was correct. The Wall Street Journal reports that the murder rates this year were as follows: July, 92; August, 75; September, 54; and October, 24. As I pointed out,

"Baghdad is a city with a population some 8.5 times greater than Washington. While it might be difficult to keep track of the number of property crimes or robberies these days in Iraq, presumably Rumsfeld knows whether the number of murders is greater or less than 200 a month. It is certainly not clear why Rumsfeld would make the claim that he did if he didn't have this information. As an aside, given that during 2001 Washington had 261 murders, my math is a little different from Rumsfeld's (185=(261/12)*8.5), but the numbers are of a similar order of magnitude and the point is the same."

Only in July does the number of murders in Baghdad even approach half the rate found in Washington, DC.

My discussion on 7/26 also makes related points.

Update: I have been asked about previous questions on this issue. Please note that my previous posts linked to above go into these questions, such as the previous AP story that didn't differentiate war deaths from murders.

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Since the first news search was done additional news stories have been added to Nexis:

There are thus now 218 unique stories, and a total of 294 stories counting duplicates (the stories in yellow were duplicates): Excel file for general overview and specific stories. Explicit mentions of defensive gun use increase from 2 to 3 now.

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