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"Handguns Are Used in Most US Assaults and Robberies,"

reports a BBC caption. Uh, no: According to the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Survey (2005 data), table 66, handguns are used in 5.4% of U.S. assaults and 26.3% of robberies.

Thanks to Charles Curley for the pointer. I've e-mailed BBC with the correction; please let me know if you see them making it.

UPDATE: Even if one uses the Uniform Crime Reports data, which is generally thought to be less reliable because it focuses only on crimes reported to the police, only 42.2% of all robberies involved firearms generally (likely nearly all handguns, but still not "most" robberies), and only 21.9% of all aggravated assaults involved firearms generally, even though "aggravated assault" is a kind of assault that is especially likely to use a deadly weapon — the statistics for all assaults would surely be far lower. (I cite 2006 data here, but the 2003 data is comparable.)

I also should have pointed out that the error isn't just in the caption, but also in the article itself, which says "Handguns are used in two-thirds of robberies and assaults and in half of murders in the US, according to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigations." The murder statistics are about right, but, as I note above, the robbery and assault numbers are flatly wrong.

FURTHER UPDATE: The BBC has revised the page to eliminate these errors; the original is still available in the google cache.

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