Chaucer meets NYPD

July 5, 2002

Joyce Malcolms says that "between 1890 and 1892, there were only three handgun homicides in a population of 30 million" (Why I..., THES , June 21). Wasn't the late-Victorian weapon of choice a shotgun or a rifle? As for "homicide" I know Chaucer uses the word, but wasn't it more American-usage by 1890? Should we take it that in this context the word means "murder" but not manslaughter (and other "accidental killings")?

Only four armed robberies in London in 1904? It depends on what you call "armed" and on whether you believe the police were as capable of distinguishing between, say, someone found dead of drink and someone garroted and robbed.

C. A. Corben Green

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