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Ann Coulter recently made the following claim on the FOX News show 'Hannity':

On the gun crimes, we keep hearing how low they are in Europe, and oh, they're so low, and they have no guns. If you compare white populations, we have the same murder rate as Belgium.

Note: I'm not asking about her following conclusion (which I purposely haven't quoted here). I am merely interested in knowing whether that particular statistic is correct, made up or cited wrongly.

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It is impossible to determine the white murder rate; Hispanic and White offenders are both classified as white. To be sure, the official white murder rate is much higher than the actual rate. –  user11160 Jan 21 '13 at 15:29
According to our Privileges section, you should only use comments to request clarification from the author or leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving this post. Please review the When shouldn't I comment? section and act appropriately in the future. –  Sklivvz Jan 22 '13 at 6:46
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2 Answers

No, the murder rate in the US is higher.

Murder rate in Belgium in 2007 was 1.7 per 100,000 of population while the murder rate by white perpetrators in the U.S. in 2008 was 3.3 per 100,000 of population. That is, white Americans kill people at almost twice the rate of Belgians of all races (and no, surprisingly, not everyone in Belgium is white).

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I've cleaned up the comments as they didn't make any sense anymore. –  Sklivvz Jan 15 '13 at 20:43
I know it's popular to bash any conservative-friendly sort on this site, but 12 upvotes for an answer that cites wrong figures from the source (3.4 for whites instead of 4.5, see table 18. 4.5 was average across 18 years). In addition, this uses data significantly higher than FBI's data (see my answer) –  DVK Jan 16 '13 at 16:03
@DVK There are only 14 tables in the document. If you could maybe supply the mythical table 18... –  DJClayworth Jan 16 '13 at 16:20
@DJClayworth - sorry, figure 18, not table 18. In 2008, the off ending rate for blacks (24.7 off enders per 100,000) was 7 times higher than the rate for whites (3.4 off enders per 100,000) ( Figure 18) –  DVK Jan 16 '13 at 16:25
For completeness it might be worthwhile adding the FBI figures into this answer, When properly processed they are not actually all that different. –  DJClayworth Jan 16 '13 at 20:37
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Actually, Coulter was right. But for a specific year - 2002, to be specific.

The murder rate in Belgium in 2002 was higher, because there were 318 murders there, (compare to 215 in 2000).

Due to that jump, the average murder rate in Belgium was ~2.2 per 100,000 in 2000 and 3.1 in 2002.

US data for 2002 was: 6,200 white murder offenders (src), total whites 194,822,000 (src), so average per 100,000 was 3.1 as well. Same rate as Belgium.

See my below original answer for 2011 figures.


methodMan's answer uses BJS statistics. However, using FBI's statistics, the numbers are significantly different, as is the conclusion.


Total murder offenders: 14,548, of them 4,729 white. Total white population in USA is ~225mil as of 2010 census (src).

Total white firearm murder offenders: this is hard, since no table exists for offenders by race by firearms. But pretty much ALL tables showing murder weapons (e.g. Table 7) have firearm murder rate around 66-70%, so we can reasonably approximate as 3121 white murder offenders via firearms (4,729 * 0.66).

This amounts to 3121/2250 = 1.39 per 100,000 population - white-offender firearms murder rate, and 4,729/2250 = 2.1 per 100,000 population - white-offender total murder rate.

Those are way lower than "whites only" BJS figures stated by methodMan.

The murder rate total (2.1) is 25% higher than cited 1.7 in Belgium; however the firearm murder rate (1.4) is three times higher than that of Belgium.

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So your final conclusion should read "White murder rate is 2.1, 25% higher than that in Belgium". –  DJClayworth Jan 16 '13 at 16:39
Also the Belgium figures are for number of people killed by homicide. Your US figures are for number of homicide perpetrators. It stands to reason that the number of victims of white-perpetrated homicide will be higher than that. (Because some killers kill more than one person) –  DJClayworth Jan 16 '13 at 16:42
Gun homicide rate in Belgium is 0.44 gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/belgium –  DJClayworth Jan 16 '13 at 16:51
"14,548, of them 4,729 white" sorry, but this is just wrong way to calculate that. You're making assumption, that "race unknown" == "not white". You should calculate proportion of white assassins based on "10,471 of known race, of them 4,729 white", and assume that proportion of whites in "unknown" is similar. –  vartec Jan 16 '13 at 17:18
Coulter didn't say "we had the same murder rate as Belgium ten years ago" - she said "we have the same murder rate as Belgium". The word for someone who is right but only for one specific year a long time ago is "wrong". –  DJClayworth Jan 16 '13 at 18:06
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