Crime and statistics
It's been widely assumed that telephone surveys of gun owners understate the real numbers, because some proportion of them are reluctant to disclose ownership to a stranger. I recently found two pieces of research on the question.
Arthur L. Kellerman, et al., Validating Survey Responses to Questions About Gun Ownership Among Owners of Registered Handguns, 131 J. OF EPIDEMOLOGY 1084 (1990)... yes, that Kellermann. They surveyed 35 households in Seattle and Memphis (I wasn't aware that either had registration) who had a handgun registered to them. 31 said that they did have a gun, 1 denied ever having had one, and 3 said they'd had one, but didn't now (which the study counts as a valid answer, but I'd classify it as fishy, at least). So 3% gave an incorrect answer and 9% gave a fishy one.
Ann C. Rafferty, et al., Validity of a Household Gun Question in a Telephone Survey, 110 PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTS 282 (1995). A larger sample (around 190) of households that have a registered handgun, or had a hunting license. 13% of the first and 10% of the second denied owning any type of gun.
These suggest that telephone surveys result in numbers that are significantly too low, as by an eighth to a tenth, even when the ownership is completely legal.
Right here, from the Crime Prevention Research Center.
"Everytown's recent analysis of mass shootings is riddled with errors. Mistakes are made on the number of mass shootings as well as the extension of mental illness, the killers' ages, and even where the attack occurred."
Jersey City, NJ. Man wanted for murder ambushes and murders officer. His wife responds with ""He should've taken more [officers] with him," and ""Sorry for the officer's family. That's, you know, whatever."
They even built a memorial for the killer, complete with empty liquor bottles and a "thugs in peace" message. They should add an epitaph, with the words of Lord Byron
"In all of antiquity you'll ne'er survey
A site more dignified than this
Here lie the bones of Castlereigh;
Stop, traveller, and p__s."
It may seem obvious, but it's handy to have hard proof of this.
"People hospitalized with a firearm injury are 30 times more likely to return to the hospital with another firearm injury than people hospitalized for other reasons. And they're 11 times more likely to die from gun violence within the next five years, according to a study commissioned by the Seattle City Council."
I've seen this borne out by other studies: even in a high-crime neighborhoods, gun violence is largely limited to small subgroups of the population (meaning drug dealing gangs) who routinely use violence and have it used on them.
Practical implications: (1) gun laws need not aim at ensuring "only the best" have guns; they should aim rather at making it harder for only the worst to have them, a small fraction of one percent of the population. (2) There's no practical difference between "may issue" and "shall issue," except that "shall issue" lets more of the non-violent population carry. Both screen out the small number of bad guys, the difference is that "may issue" screens out more good guys, too. (3) Enforcement: even if guns are banned, and 99% of them confiscated, odds are that the remaining 1% will be disproportionately in the hands of career gang-bangers.
The gun homicide rate has fallen by 49% over the last twenty years, and the rate for other gun crimes has fallen by 75%.
"Despite national attention to the issue of firearm violence, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is lower today than it was two decades ago. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, today 56% of Americans believe gun crime is higher than 20 years ago and only 12% think it is lower."
Right here. The conclusion is that tighter CCW laws, and the Federal "assault weapon ban" were associated with high homicide rates.
Interesting study, by Yale sociologists.
They began with a sample of EXCEPTIONALLY at-risk individuals -- 3,700 inner city African-Americans with arrest records. Their area had a homicide rate about ten times that of the US as a whole. But within this group of at-risk individuals, there were clusters where the violence was concentrated. Just having an arrest record raised odds of becoming a victim of gun homicide by 50%. Getting arrested with someone who would go on to become a gun homicide raised the odds of being killed by 900% -- against a population that was generally very much at risk.
I suppose the final thing to be drawn from this is that gun control means trying to control the entire population, in the hopes of getting tiny pockets of lawless and extremely violent people to give up their ways.
UPDATE: it also has implications for permit systems. Assuming for the sake of the argument that those can function, their real task is not issuing permits to the especially law-abiding. Rather, it is sufficient to deny permits to a tiny core of people inclined to violent crime, a much simpler task (if only because gang-bangers with criminal records are unlikely to file an application, and thus self-eliminate). Thus, shall-issue has the same result of may-issue.
Hat tip to Joe Olson...
Reading, PA. Two masked robbers enter a convenience store, pointing stolen revolvers at the clerk. A citizen outside sees this, calls 911. When the robbers exit the store, they threaten him, and he shoots and kills both.
"The two men were shot and killed by a private citizen while leaving the store, and family members want to see charges pressed.
"[William] had no right to lose his life over something that man could have called the police for," said Medina. "He took the law into his own hands and walked away scot-free."
"How about if people just start running around here, policing the city on their own? How much worse is it going to get?" said Peter Ratel, Medina's cousin.
The family members said they are hurt by comments suggesting the alleged robbers were "thugs.""
And there's an almost-incomprehensible response:
"Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said that the real question is how many guns are sold without a background check.
"In other words, if people who buy those guns and have a background check, and keep those guns and don't sell them, then you would not expect that those guns would affect the crime rate," Horwitz told the newspaper. "The important analysis is not the total number of guns sold with a background check, but rather the number of guns sold without a background check.""
The simple response would be -- there are so many things that affect the crime rate, including some we don't understand, that you can't draw cause and effect between gun ownership and crime rates. But that's not an argument an anti-gunner can make.
Today, headlines read "7 Dead, 30 Wounded in Weekend Violence".
Perp holding hostage in front of himself. Eight shots fired. Unfortunately, one of them killed the hostage.
From a University of Illinois study, "Crime, Corruption, and Cover-ups:"
"An analysis of five decades of news reports reveals that since 1960, at least 300 Chicago
Police officers have been convicted of serious crimes, such as drug dealing, beatings of civilians,
destroying evidence, protecting mobsters, theft and murder.
Moreover, the listing of police convicted of crimes undoubtedly underestimates the
problem of corruption in the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The list does not include
undetected and unreported illegal activity, serious misconduct resulting in internal disciplinary
action, and officers who retire rather than face charges.
Our analysis of police corruption in Chicago yields four major findings.
First, corruption has long persisted within the CPD and continues to be a serious
problem. There have been 103 convictions of Chicago police since the beginning of 2000."
. . . . . .
"In the 1980s, police corruption again became front-page news. In 1982, ten officers in the
Marquette police district were among the first Chicago police officers to be convicted of drug–
related corruption charges. “The Marquette 10" arrests were followed by Operation Greylord, a
federal investigation into the Cook County court system that swept up several corrupt police
officers along with numerous judges, court bailiffs and attorneys. In the 1980s and 1990s, Joseph
Miedzianowski, a member of the department’s Gang Crimes Unit, ran a drug operation with
The conviction of CPD Chief of Detectives and Assistant Police Superintendent Edward
Hanhardt in 2001 for using secret police information to direct a mob-connected jewelry theft ring
showed that organized crime could still reach into the CPD even in the 21st Century. The
drug/gang connection continued into the current decade. In 2007, the U.S. Attorney’s arrested of
Keith Herrera and Jerome Finnegan of the Special Operations Squad for corruption and
The FBI has released an interesting chart plotting homicide numbers over the last five years. (the declines would probably be a little sharper if rates were used, since the population increased over that period of time).
Total homicides: down from 14,916 to 12,664, a drop of 15%.
Firearm homicides: down from 10,129 to 8,583, a drop of the same.
Rifle homicides: down from 453 to 323, a drop of 29%.
Rifle homicides (of which "assault rifles" are but a part), are now far below homicides by club or other blunt object (496), or by beating (728) and far below those committed with knifes (1,694).
Hat tip to Prof. Raymond Kessler.
But the supposed purpose of the "ban" was to reduce crime. So let's look at a few Virginia figures, from 2004, the last year of the "ban" and from years after it expired.
2004: Murder rate 5.2 Robbery rate 92
2010 Murder rate 4.7 Robbery rate 70
2011 Murder rate: 3.7 Robbery rate 67
Bogota, 1986: Campo Elias Delgado kills 30 people, using a knife and a .32 revolver. In most mass slayings, police response time is 10-20 minutes, meaning that the killer doesn't need a large magazine, or as in this case, a magazine at all.
Howard Nemerov compares a mass murder that didn't happen in San Antonio. The shooter was shot down by an off-duty officer after he wounded two people.
Barber shop patron says he'd like to have killed the recent school shooter. Another patron says "you'd like to murder me?" and shoots at him. The shooter turns out to be someone convicted of homicide and illegal firearms possession.
Hmmm... a murderer who identifies with the school shooter, and wants to kill a stranger? Maybe the shooter wasn't wrong, the first patron would have wanted to shoot him. And I have trouble seeing much wrong in that.
A few days ago I linked to a study of mass killings stopped by police vs. stopped by civilians, finding that the average death rate of those stopped by police was 14.3, and the average death rate of those stopped by civilians was 2.33. Not surprising, since the armed civilians are usually on the scene, while police necessarily respond many minutes later. The killers are not stupid: they don't attack if a uniformed LEO is within sight. The result suggest what Joe Olson said years ago: in a situation with an "active shooter" who is willing to die, the only thing that stops him is quick and accurate return fire from someone not in a police uniform. Whether that person is an off-duty officer or an armed civilian doesn't matter.
I posted below to a story indicating that the Clackamas Town Center shooter may have stopped and committed suicide because he saw a CCW holder who drew and had him in his sights. Here's more on the story.
Now comes a story of an apparent attempt at a mass slaying in Texas, which was halted when an off-duty officer shot the attacker. Total casualties, apart from the perp, were one man wounded.
I'd say we're seeing a pattern here.
Story here. He threw down on the shooter, but held fire due to innocent people being on the other side. The killer saw him, and committed suicide at that point.
Strangely, this seems to have stayed a local story. The blogs are carrying it, but the national media seems absent.
Davi Barker does a study of 93 mass killings (narrowing them to thirty where either police or a civilian stopped the crime) and finds--
"The average number of people killed in mass shootings when stopped by police is 14.3
The average number of people killed in a mass shooting when stopped by a civilian is 2.3."
State breakdown here.
Interesting trends on murder rates:
Massachusetts, probably strictest gun laws in the nation,: up by 22%.
Vermont, perhaps loosest in the nation, down by 13%
New Jersey, close runner-up to MA, up by 15%. NY UP BY 13%.
PA, far looser laws, down by 1.8%.
Florida, home of "shall issue" CCW, down by 4.3%
That's funny, they don't look like criminals.
Under the Obama Administration, Federal weapons prosecutions have dropped to their lowest level in ... well, since their previous low under the Clinton Administration. I could have sworn I'd heard complaints during both those Administrations that we needed more firearm restrictions because existing laws weren't enough...
Hat tip to Dan Gifford...
Chicago -- the city where criminals need not fear the police (and courts). And, if anyone obeyed its gun laws, they'd need not fear anyone else, either.
VPC claims that loose gun laws, and in particular "right to carry," is associated with higher crime rates. Howard Nemerov takes them on, showing how they discarded much of the data, and the full dataset cuts the other way.
Chicago is experiencing a homicide surge, and the Police Superintendant ("when danger reared its ugly head / he turned his tail and bravely fled") has responded by splitting body counts into indoor killings and outdoor killings, and arguing his police can't be expected to restrain the first.
If so, it'd be a good case for firearms in the home for self defense, no?
UPDATE: The Sun-Times reports Mayor Daley has an answer:
"The show-and-tell was the same today, when Daley was asked how effective Chicago’s strictest-in-the-nation handgun ban can possibly be when the city’s homicide rate is rising and an off-duty Chicago Police officer was gunned down during an attempted robbery.
The mayor picked up a gun from the table and sarcastically told the reporter, The Reader’s Mick Dumke, “If I put this up your butt, you’ll find out how effective it is."
Hat tip to Sixgun Sarah...
Over at Calguns, an interesting chart on the subject.
Story here. Some of the pro-robber comments are gems.
Hat tip to reader Mark Noble....
An officer's squad car camera shows how fast things can go bad. He tasers the guy, the guy shrugs it off (report is that one of the electrodes missed) and is on top of him before he can react. The guy was 6'8", strong, and something of a mental case, so the officer was lucky to be saved by a passing off duty LEO.
Latest data for the adjacent States of Maryland and Virginia. Virginia, whose laws are gun-friendly, "is the 14th safest state in the country, improving its position for a fourth consecutive year."
Maryland, which is NOT gun-friendly, "has the second highest murder and robbery rate in the country, with Baltimore being the 12th more dangerous city in America."
When a person has been convicted of attempted murder of police officers, and is at sentencing, after the prosecution recommended a 120 year sentence... it's not good idea to defy and annoy the judge on top of it all.
An interesting story in the DC Examiner:
"“Officer, I am carrying a firearm in compliance with North Carolina law.” So began my exchange during a traffic stop. (Sorry, I have a lead foot.) He replied, “May I have it, sir?” Since this was before I knew enough to say “no,” I complied. The officer then took my gun to his car, traced it and, finding nothing amiss, returned it to me. MAIG’s report would have you believe my gun is a “crime gun” because it would be included in the gun trace reports on which its study is based.
Therein lies the scam: Although gun control advocates call gun tracing a measure of crime, traced guns are not necessarily “crime guns.” Says the Congressional Research Service: “Trace requests are not accurate indicators of specified crimes…traces may be requested for a variety of reasons not necessarily related to criminal incidents.” Indeed, BATFE encourages police to trace all guns encountered."
Over at the Fox Forum.
"In India, victims watched as armed police cowered and didn’t fire back at the terrorists. A photographer at the scene described his frustration: “There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything. At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, ‘Shoot them, they’re sitting ducks!’ but they just didn’t shoot back.”
Meanwhile, according to the hotel company’s chairman, P.R.S. Oberoi, security at “the hotel had metal detectors, but none of its security personnel carried weapons because of the difficulties in obtaining gun permits from the Indian government.”
India has extremely strict gun control laws, but who did it succeed in disarming?
The attack also illustrates what Israelis learned decades ago. — Putting more soldiers or police on the street didn’t stop terrorist’s machine gun attacks. Terrorists would either wait for the armed soldiers or police to leave the area or kill them first. Likewise, in India, the Muslim terrorists’ first targets were those in uniform (whether police or security guards).
Terrorists only stopped using machine guns to attack Israelis once citizens were allowed to carry concealed handguns. In large public gatherings, a significant number of citizens will be able to shoot at terrorists during an attack — and the terrorists don’t know who has them."
Hat tip to reader Bret Gallo!
An interesting piece on changes to police tactics. The traditional response was bring up the SWAT team, plan it out carefully, then go in. As the matter was better understood, this switched to whoever gets there first goes in immediately -- seconds passing means people dying. To my mind, this is a powerful argument for allowing teachers to be armed. The article ends:
"The other statistic that emerged from a study of active killers is that they almost exclusively seek out "gun free" zones for their attacks.
In most states, concealed handguns are prohibited at schools and on college campuses even for those with permits.
Many malls and workplaces also place signs at their entrances prohibiting firearms on the premises.
Now tacticians believe the signs themselves may be an invitation to the active killers.
The psychological profile of a mass murderer indicates he is looking to inflict the most casualties as quickly as possible.
Also, the data show most active killers have no intention of surviving the event.
They may select schools and shopping malls because of the large number of defenseless victims and the virtual guarantee no on the scene one is armed.
As soon as they're confronted by any armed resistance, the shooters typically turn the gun on themselves."
Hat tip to reader Jack Anderson....
Liberated self has a post regarding Ohio State. The newspaper finally carried a story about on-campus crime, because an officer had to shoot a perp after he stabbed another officer. But, as pointed out, there had been seven robberies within the past seven days that went uncovered. Most involve gangs of perps who travelled a fair distance to get to the easy pickings on campus.
So reports USA Today, with the note that it must reflect a "shoot first" mentality. A few problems: they're not up by much, and police justifiable homicides are up, also. One criminologist, who sounds like he spends too much time in the ivory tower, theorizes that because police have been issued more powerful arms, everyone else figures it's OK to shoot.
How about a simpler explanation? It looks to me as if the trend matches closely the trend for murder and violent crime rates. A peak in 1994, a steep decline thru 2000, modest increases since then. If violent attacks decline, shooting in self defense against violent attacks declines.
Hat tip to reader Charles Oldfield...
[As Gary Kleck notes in the article, only a minority of justified self-defense shootings are reported as such to the FBI. Remember reporting is voluntary, many smaller PDs don't take the time, and when reported it's the PD's initial judgment, not the final legal outcome.)
Right here. Tho I am a bit suspicious of the claim that they frequently practice with weapons (80% practicing, average 23 times a year). A big city gang banger is going to be hard put to find open countryside in which to shoot. I note they only studied 43 offenders, so perhaps the results should be taken with a bit of salt.
Governor Blogo ..Bladjo... Anyway, the governor of Illinois proclaims Chicago crime is out of control and proposes to call out the National Guard.
Good thing Chicago's handgun ban is working! If not for that, they'd have to call out 101st Airborne to enforce the laws.
Hat tip to reader Cory...
Chicago is reporting a gang-related bike-by shooting.
Reminds me of--
What is this sound? Clippity-clop, clippety-clop, BANG! BANG!" clippety-clop.
Answer: an Amish drive-by shooting.
At the Volokh Conspiracy, Jim Lindren gives a devastating critique of the 1991 Loftin study claiming that DC's gun ban cut homicides.
From an article in the Washingtonian:
"Gun violence is relatively rare across the Potomac River in Virginia, despite the fact that guns are easily bought and registered there. And there is much less gunplay in urbanized parts of Montgomery County, just over the line from DC.
Why? Activists outside the criminal-justice system blame poverty and the flow of illegal guns into DC; police and prosecutors point to cases like that of D’Angelo Thomas."
Police stopped his car; four guys and five pistols inside. Three of them were on probation -- and Thomas on probation for robbery (i.e., he was a felon in possession) and a gun violation. But DC hadn't done the paperwork to charge him in time for the initial appearance. The judge dismissed charges against all four. The paperwork arrived in the courtroom ten minutes later, but he'd already been released (I guess DC can be fast at that) and was gone. 11 days later he fatally shot someone.
"“Suspects arrested in DC don’t fear the criminal-justice system,” says Edgar Domenech, head of the DC field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. “The majority of the gun cases go through Superior Court, and they don’t see any real jail time.”
DC police officer Tamika Hampton says she has made a number of arrests for CPWL—carrying a pistol without a license. “They get right back out on the street,” she says. “They know it when I make the arrest. After I process them, they walk out of court the same time I do. They laugh at me.”"
"Sounds tough, but any change in gun enforcement laws has to pass through a DC Council that sometimes seems to favor criminals over cops.
Since the 1970s, when it passed the landmark ban on handguns, the 13-member council has been among the nation’s most liberal legislatures on law-enforcement problems.
Until the law was changed two years ago, even a convicted felon caught with a gun in DC could be charged at most with a misdemeanor and would likely serve no time.
In early 2005 then-mayor Anthony Williams proposed reforms to toughen penalties on many crimes, including gun possession. Judiciary Committee chair Phil Mendelson held the bill in his committee for a year and a half.... Mendelson also doesn’t believe in holding violent offenders while they are awaiting trial. Mayor Williams had proposed changes in the law that would make it easier for judges to hold suspects. Mendelson stripped the provisions from the bill."
DC will seal off high-crime areas, set up vehicle checkpoints. Drivers who fail to show ID will be arrested for failure to obey an officer. (?)
Reading carefully -- actually, they're going to set up a checkpoint only on one street in the area. Pedestrians will not be stopped (and in DC, you get around on foot or via Metro whenever you can -- traffic goes slowly and usually there's no parking). So it must come under the "This will show we are doing something" exception to the 4th Amendment. (DC figures the 2nd Amendment is subject to that exception, hardly astonishing they think the 4th has it, too).
Interesting that the proposal is opposed both by the FOP and by the ACLU.
A Weekly Standard article notes that, while violent crime has dropped generally, violent crime in prisons has fallen to an incredible degree -- as in a 94% fall in homicides.
The article attributes it to better administration, which I suspect is correct. Back in the 70s, one of my partners had a client a fellow who had been in and out of prison for many years. He was intelligent, but had an explosive temper. The tiniest bit of prodding and it was another agg. assault conviction. We got to talking about what prison was like, and he pointed out that if you looked at the guard to convict ratio, there were enough guards to ensure that all was under control. But, he pointed out, they were generally (up in the attic, I think he said) smoking pot. And often dealing it to the inmates. He said if he were made warden he'd (1) fire all the then-current guards, because so many were corrupt or lazy it wasn't worth finding the exceptions; (2) he'd double the pay and (3) with that as an attraction, hire good replacements. He figured he could have the entire place in order, honest, and safe in a few months. Unfortunately, his long list of felony convictions probably ruled out being hired as warden. But I rather suspect something like his agenda was carried out over the years.
Lady jailed after she pays theft fine using stolen credit card.
UPDATE: I see someone is following Alan around, hoping for links and hits...
Story here. He's and economist and the author of Freakonomics. While he's had battles with John Lott (as I recall, the dispute was over whether more CCW means less crime, Lott's position, or doesn't affect crime one way of the other, his position), he tells the Canadian paper that gun laws do nothing to lower crime rates, a swimming pool in the backyard is more dangerous than a gun in the house, and gun laws have few effects, except when they are counterproductive effects.
I don't usually comment on "revolving door justice," because in most States (and certainly under the Federal Guidelines), sentencing is pretty strict. But this case out of Florida certainly merits that label. Watch the video for a list of his priors.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines do not have an enhancement for felonious stupid, but if they it would surely add on 20 points.The gang leader posts video to YouTube threatening the police, daring them to arrest him, and in the course of it waving around a gun, when he's a felon with a few dozen convictions to do. The police of course took him up on the dare.
Story here. Drug deaths (predominantly among illicit users, but the story has some startling reports of accidental deaths) doubled 1994-2004. The biggest rise was in prescription drugs (oxycodone, for example), which went up 152% in five years.
Robber enters convenience story, at one point puts pistol back in waistband. And manages to shoot himself in the scrotum.
Hat tip to reader Josh Berger...
Right here. The point is made by one officer: you have entire areas where everyone, but everyone, is growing a psychopath. How do you deal with that?
Don Kates brought my attention to this paper by the late Eric Monkkenen. It's interesting on a number of levels (including the conclusion that European homicide rates were very high during the medieval period and then fell rapidly during the Industrial Age ... when popular histories tended to treat the period as disruption, urbanization, and exploitation).
He has an op-ed in the Washington Times today.
"The city's brief focuses only on murder rates in discussing crime in D.C. Yet, in the five years before Washington's ban in 1976, the murder rate fell from 37 to 27 per 100,000. In the five years after it went into effect, the murder rate rose back up to 35. But there is one fact that seems particularly hard to ignore. D.C.'s murder rate fluctuated after 1976 but has only once fallen below what it was in 1976 (that happened years later, in 1985). Does D.C. really want to argue that the gun ban reduced the murder rate?
Similarly for violent crime, from 1977 to 2003, there were only two years when D.C.'s violent crime rate fell below the rate in 1976. These drops and subsequent increases were much larger than any changes in neighboring Maryland and Virginia. For example, D.C.'s murder rate fell 3.5 to 3 times more than in the neighboring states during the five years before the ban and rose back 3.8 times more in the five years after it. D.C.'s murder rate also rose relative to that in other similarly sized cities."
Data here. The vast majority of homicide victims have criminal records, usually extensive ones, and the trend has been increasing:
"In Baltimore, about 91 percent of murder victims this year had criminal records, up from 74 percent a decade ago, police reported. In many cases, says Frederick Bealefeld III, Baltimore's interim police commissioner, victims' rap sheets provide critical links to potential suspects in botched drug deals or violent territorial disputes... Philadelphia also has seen the number of victims with criminal pasts inch up, to 75 percent this year from 71 percent in 2005, department statistics show.
In Milwaukee, ... 77 percent of murder victims in the past two years had an average of nearly 12 arrests."
Hat tip to Joe Olson, who pointed out that Don Kates has been studying and documenting this fact for about thirty years, with little coverage in the press.
Let's see... should the criminal Darwin Award go to:
Francisco Torrez, who was arrested after checking into a hospital due to an asthma attack -- brought on by inhaling powder smoke after he shot at his intended victim. Or...
Daniel Clark, who attempted to disguise himself during a robbery by coloring his face blue. He fled, but when officers tracking him down, they had no trouble IDing him. Since he still had the blue coloring on his face.
There are safe ways to load a handgun, and unsafe ways. One of the unsafe ways to load a handgun is while the deputy is trying to wrestle you to the ground.
The standard response to liberalizing CCW or allowing self defense is that it'll lead to "Dodge City" (which actually was rather peaceful compared to modern inner cities).
It's already here, as this Washington Post article illustrates.
Facts: a guy commits two murders, on the street, in front of dozens of witnesses. Despite offers of relocation and witness protection, only one will testify. The second murder, BTW, was of a witness to the first murder whom the perp thought (incorrectly) might be aiding police. Guy wins two acquittals.
The mother of the second victim starts investigating, and is warned her house would be shot up if she didn't stop. She stops and moves away.
At least in Dodge City you could shoot back. And in Tombstone, you could bring in John Slaughter, tell him to do what he had to, and you'll look the other way so long as he hurts only the bad guys.
I found it rather striking.
"Liquarry's accidental death June 24 brought familiar calls for tougher gun controls. Mayor Thomas M. Menino suggested the National Rifle Association was partly to blame."
"Liquarry A. Jefferson probably didn't have a chance. His father was in prison the day the boy was born, emerging long enough from his manslaughter sentence to commit a string of armed robberies. His four half siblings were born of three different fathers, all gang members, and, currently, all inmates.... But the killing laid bare a much deeper truth about urban violence: Crime in many neighborhoods runs in families, where elders bequeath gang membership, drug abuse, joblessness, and brutality to their offspring like a toxic inheritance. In Grove Hall, police have said that 2.4 percent of the area's 19,000 residents cause most of the serious crime. Many of those people, police say, are related."
"A Globe analysis shows that in the final year of Liquarry's life, government agencies spent at least $314,000 on his family, about half for social services and government benefits, in an extraordinary effort to save the family, especially the children.
Besides the salaries for the battery of social workers who regularly called on the house, the public spending includes a subsidized housing allowance, food stamps, court-appointed public defenders, and the $56 paternity test that a judge ordered one of the fathers of Liquarry's mother's other children to undergo for an out-of-wedlock child with another woman.
The other half of the total went to the costs of prosecuting and imprisoning family members. Taxpayers spent an estimated $30,000 on a double-homicide trial for the father of two of Liquarry's half siblings in October -- he was acquitted -- as well as dozens, maybe hundreds of hours worth of police work on cases that involved family members. When the Boston Herald admonished the family last month for costing the public $10,000 in needless investigative work because Liquarry's mother, Lakeisha Gadson, falsely reported that her son had been shot by home invaders, police and social service officials knew the bigger story. The family had been tearing through $10,000 in public resources every couple of weeks for a long time."
Egad--this is the Globe?
From the land of assault rifle bans, etc., comes the story of a newspaper editor murdered, apparently because he was working on a story critical of a Black Muslim bakery. One might wonder why the killers were so bold. Well,
"The police said the raid came after a lengthy investigation of other crimes, including two kidnappings on a single day in May, and two killings in July that occurred in the same north Oakland neighborhood where the bakery is located. The police had connected those crimes and put the bakery under surveillance before Mr. Bailey was killed. ... The bakery’s operators had been investigated by the police in the past. In 2002, the founder, Mr. Bey, was charged with rape, sodomy and lewd acts with a child under 14, stemming from accusations that he had fathered a child with a 13-year-old girl in 1982. Mr. Bey died of cancer in 2003 before his trial began.
In late 2005, several members of the group that operates the bakery, including the younger Mr. Bey, were charged in an attack at a small neighborhood grocery store, in which liquor bottles were smashed and other merchandise was destroyed. The attack was treated as a felony hate crime, the police said, because the store, which is owned by Muslims, had sold goods forbidden by Islamic law.
Lieutenant Joyner said that many residents of the neighborhood surrounding the bakery had been afraid of the Muslim group, whose members sometimes shot automatic rifles in the air in a show of intimidation. Other members of the group, the police said, flaunted their defiance of outstanding warrants on assault and gun charges."
The case I blogged a few days ago, about the guy who went into a bank with a bomb fastened around his neck, and ultimately got blown up...
Just got a LOT wierder. As one commenter said, if anybody had made a TV series on it, they'd have been laughed off as ludicrously implausble.
The full story now involves:
a doublecross (the guy was in on the plot, having been told it was a fake bomb, and was only told it was real at the last moment);
a "treasure hunt" for clues (after robbing the bank, he was supposed to follow a chain of clues until he got to the last one, that would tell him how to take the bomb off);
a plot to murder a woman's father, so she would inherit;
a hit man who was to be paid from the bank robbery;
a suicide note that gave clues as to who else was involved; and
a body in a freezer.
At the Volokh Conspiracy, there's a post on law enforcement in the District of Columbia.
Frankly, I suspect DC police just get demoralized and jaded. Trying to enforce the law in a city where a sizeable percent of the population are convicted felons (I forget now the proportion, but it was pretty high), crime is constant, etc. must be pretty demoralizing after years.
To give you some idea of what I mean when I saw crime is constant: at one point they sent fire engines down the streets, shooting water under parked cars. Why? The coke dealers all hung out on those streets, and put their inventory under the cars. A customer would buy, and they would direct him to get it from under the car. That way they figured that, if busted, there would be no proof they possessed the coke. The volume of trade was so large that DC found it easier to just wash it all down the drain than to do what would be necessary to set them up.
Story here. This one is too wierd to describe, read the story.
Just in the mail: "Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't." It is quite interesting and a good read, in part an answer to an earlier book "Freakonomics." These two books seem intended to remove economic's popular reputation as "the dismal science," by showing how statistical work can be applied to matters of popular interest. The key to that is often having the imagination to figure out the beginning data, where do you start comparisons?
A few of the most interest points (to me, anyway):
Interest groups contribute to campaigns of politicians who favor them. Does that prove politicians favor them because of their contributions, or rather that they contribute to politicians who favor them anyway? Which is cause and which effect?
Lott takes the voting records of 700+ House members, and asks what happened after they announced they were retiring? Contributions of course fell off by 85% -- they're not going to campaign again. But their voting record stayed the same. Even with no need for campaign funds or other support, they voted the same. The contributions didn't create their positions; their positions lead to contributions, is to say the call for "campaign reform" is badly undercut.
Campaign finance reform: the main effect is to level the playing field. Except that the playing field is already heavily stacked in favor of the incumbent. So the re-election rate goes upward wherever these measures are adopted.
A bit of history: private radio stations initially seemed doomed to failure, since nobody could figure out to make it pay. How can you charge for subscriptions, when anyone can listen in? For a time it looked as if government radio was the only possibility. Then AT&T discovered they could sell ads, and make it pay without dues or taxes.
Crime rates: a mystery to many was why rates began rapidly falling in the early 90s. Freakonomics attributed it to abortion -- potential criminals were being terminated early and the population of them was smaller. Freedomomics argues this was a bad analysis of the data, and denies the conclusion. It argues that increasing the number of executions depressed homicides, for one thing. (It points out that the odds of a policeman being murdered is less than the odds of a killer being executed, yet that is enough to influence officer decision -- to wear body armor, be cautious, etc. -- why doubt that the odds of execution influences killers?) Another factor was increased police on duty. Plus right to carry laws, and here Lott answers Freaknomomic's attack on his conclusion that right to carry reduces crime rates. (He also cites data by other economists suggesting that when right to carry is enacted, and crime rates drop, they often go up in adjacent counties in nearby states that didn't enact it, suggesting that the criminals moved, or relocated their crimes).
He has an interesting chart on studies of right to carry and its effects. Basically, 15 studies conclude right to carry reduces violent crime. 10 studies conclude it had no discernable effect. Zero studies conclude it increased violence.
All in all, a very great read, and demonstration of how statistical work can illuminate matters of great policy concern to us all. Oh, and here's the Amazon link to buy (I suspect it'd be useful if its Amazon ranking shot up quickly -- best-seller data isn't available for a while, and Amazon ranking is often used as a short term substitute):
Here's a pic of *part* of the drug runner's money supply. Yes, those are hundred dollar bills.
Two recent papers by Prof. Harcourt finds an inverse relationship between homicide and total incarceration rate (i.e., in prison and in mental institutions).
"First, at the national level, using the new, expanded data on mental institutions (including all institutions for those deemed mentally ill), the contrast between the midcentury and 2001 is even more pronounced: during the 1940s and 50s, the United States consistently institutionalized in mental hospitals and prisons at rates above 700 persons per 100,000 adults, reaching peaks of 778 in 1939 and 786 in 1955. The relationship between the expanded aggregated institutionalization and homicide rates over the period 1934 to 2000 is statistically significant at the national level, holding constant three leading correlates of homicide.
Second, the very same relationship exists at the state level. Using state-level panel data regressions spanning the entire period from 1934 to 2001, including all 50 states, and controlling for economic, demographic, and criminal justice variables, I find a large, robust, and statistically significant relationship between aggregated institutionalization and homicide rates. The predicted relationship is not linear, but involves some slight elasticity. The findings are not sensitive to weighting by population and hold under a number of permutations, including when I aggregate jail populations as well. "
Passing note: the mayor proposes to spend millions on summer jobs to lower the rate. Uh... sure. Apart from the obvious, I've always had a question. Where do you get the money for the jobs? By taxing it away from people who might otherwise hire someone for a summer job. Tax and spent can move money around, but can't create it. Of course it also means that the persons with the jobs will thank the mayor instead of some other employer.
Here's the story (hat tip to Don Kates).
"It is a remarkable con job.
Over the last six months, the Police Executive Research Forum, the chief executives of primarily large police departments, has gotten the media concerned that the country is threatened by a sudden upsurge in violent crime and murder.
A New York Times story on March 9th started the current round of hysteria with the headline that "Violent Crime in Cities Shows Sharp Surge."
An earlier front-page story in January in USA Today caused a similar ruckus.
One wonders whether the reporters ever thought of getting a critical comment for their story.
It becomes a lot less scary when one realizes that the violent crime rate fell for 13 straight years, a total drop of 39 percent, before increasing in 2005 by less than 1 percent.
The Forum even referred to this minuscule one-year increase as a "trend.""
And that's just the beginning.... read the entire story. They use number of crimes rather than rates, hand-pick certain jurisdictions, omit those violent crimes whose numbers and rates fell, etc., etc...
Here's a summary of a study of killers of law enforcement officers. Of relevance here: only one of the 40 studied bought a gun legally. "Researcher Davis, in a presentation and discussion for the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police, noted that none of the attackers interviewed was "hindered by any law--federal, state or local--that has ever been established to prevent gun ownership. They just laughed at gun laws.""
The cop-killers boasted of being better shots and more practiced that the LEOs they fired on. 40% had been in gunfights before the one with the officer.
Interesting cues for LEOs:
None used a holster, they generally tucked the gun into their waistband. As a result, they have to feel it from time to time to make sure it's in place, and when running, have to keep a hand on it. Both should be clues that the suspect is armed.
40% carried a backup gun, at least on occasions.
Female officers are more thorough at searches of suspects, but are more likely to overlook the fact that females with the suspect may also be armed.
The gang-bangers' style is to avoid using sights, get the first shot in, and just fire in the general direction. The first hit is all-important, because if the other person goes down, they can always walk over and finish him off. (For LEOs this would underscore the FBI program I've heard about, something like just because you're hit doesn't mean you're dead. Most people hit just collapse, when they actually could continue the fight. In this setting, keeping up the fight means surviving, since the gang-banger doesn't plan on taking prisoners).
From the Delco Times: a gun dealer has a stolen gun, it's recovered in a drug bust. The arrested guy has a long record. He's let out after posting a $100 bond, and charges are later dropped. The dealer requests return of the gun and is told he must file a motion and appear in court. "So the guy they caught with Crane’s stolen gun doesn’t have to appear before a judge, but Crane does."
"Just recently, Crane said he was at his old stomping grounds [he's retired law enforcement] downtown at Fourth and Girard. At the station house he saw a sawed-off shotgun laying on a table. A cop there told him the gun’s owner was in custody. But also that he’d arrested the same guy just three days earlier for carrying a different illegal weapon."
Three staff at the Harvard School of Public Health (as in Joyce Foundation grants) issued a study claiming to show that more guns = more homicides, which of course got NY Times coverage. John Lott shows how they cooked the books by, e.g., excluding DC, and using data from different years, so they'd get the desired result.
From the LA Times, a story on "Sheriff traces guns' crooked paths to Compton's streets" -- actually, to the FFLs who first sold them. And the gun end of the story ends there, since there's no indication the FFLs were doing something wrong. More interesting is the note at the end: The sheriff created a task force on gangs that made 1,622 arrests and worked closely with probation and parole officers assigned to Compton.
Gang-related killings fell by 50%. It would probably have been lower, except that midway thru the year someone reassigned all the task force personnel, and gang killings went up again.
It's probably a bad idea to shoot at a homeowner ... while trying to break into his gun safe.
A perp gets into a close-range gunfight with a citizen, and the citizen shoots him between the eyes with a 9mm.
Legal question that arises: in prosecuting the perp, can prosecutors make him undergo surgery to remove the bullet, so that it can then be shown to have been fired by the defender's gun?
I always favored the bigger calibers, and thought of the 9mm as a .45 "set to stun," but this is rather bewildering. He takes a 9mm in the forehead, and is left with a black eye and a knot on his head.
Via Volokh Conspiracy comes this WaPo article by gadfly Jeremy Rifkin. He's pointing out the environmental costs (of course!) of dense cities.
Just a thought: crime and in particular homicide rates go up drastically with urbanization, and the larger the city the worse they become. It may be the animal in us -- pack lab rats in densely and they start to fight. How much of the crime rate may be attributable to increasing urbanization might be an interesting question.
It has some local impact here. Channeled by mountains and government land, Tucson has expanded mostly to the Northwest and the East, becoming rather L-shaped. I live in the northeast end, and rarely go downtown (except to court). There's nothing down there, really, and the streets were laid out a century ago, so traffic is slow. We have shopping malls, office supply stores, and everything else here in the east side.
So the local governments are spending millions to "revitalize downtown" in hopes that I would drive 16 miles to go somewhere that has nothing that interests me. Of course it's a boondoggle. But I can't see why revitalizing downtown is a slogan in this context. In some places "downtown" is a crime-ridden slum and improving it might be nice. But here, it's just downtown, narrow streets and old buildings, and most of us have essentially moved away because other places are just more convenient.
The guy's on the run from charges of theft, sexual assault, and beating an 88 year old woman. But he just has to update his MySpace page daily.
Another article on the subject.
From Instapundit -- security cam footage of the worst burglar ever. Rather like a real-life Roadrunner cartoon. It builds to the climax, when he realizes that breaking into the convenience mart is only half his task ... he also has to figure out how to break out!
Clayton Cramer has some interesting insights on the killer at the Jewish Community Center a few years ago.
Apparently he was committed to a mental institution (generally requiring a judicial finding that he was a physical danger to self or others) in 1998. He'd cut himself, and told police he had a drive to commit mass murders at a shopping mall. While being evaluated in the institution, he threatened to stab two other patients.
Instead of being committed, he was released, then charged with felony assault after he attacked an attendant trying to get committed again. He said he wanted to be committed because he had a compulsion to commit a mass murder. At the sentencing, he told the judge about his compulsions... and was given six months in the clink, with orders to take his medications while on parole.
The Ninth Circuit solution was, of course, to uphold a suit against a gun manufacturer....
A gang member goes on a burglary run, with his mother driving the car. He breaks in and rushes the lady homeowner, who puts three rounds of .38 into him (excellent shooting -- 3 out of 4 hit). Driving away, and trying to find the way to a hospital, his mother flags down a passing car. To be precise, the sheriff's squadcar responding to the homeowner's 911 call.
Here's a summary of an interesting study of prisoners, which found that when they were fed the right nutrients in-prison violence declined by 37%. Apart from suggesting a rather strong link between nutrition and violence, it would also suggest that jails might be a bit more placid if they actually fed people (a baloney sandwich and a small bag of chips is customary lunch in most of them).
Here's a very interesting short paper (small pdf) on mass slayings, with emphasis on the shootings at Port Arthur.
The gist of it is that, before that massacre, a national TV program had laid out a "how to do it" segment, with features that would predictably have appealed to a potential mass murderer, and ended with "We are going to have a massacre in Tasmania like those elsewhere."
He concludes what is needed for such a killer is rewards and guidance, and the media gives both. It rewards them with publicity, turning a bitter loser into a national figure. It gives guidance on how to do it, and once the first case occurs, lays out just how the killer went about his crimes.
I might add that what's needed for murder-suicide mass slayings is a person with a serious case of narcissistic personality disorder. That involves, not just a big ego, but a mass of inner self-hatred, from which the person is shielded by the enormous ego. Thus the murders satisfy the ego -- they feel godlike, able to strike down people on a whim. The suicide satisfies the self-hatred. The prospect of publicity is very appealing to such killers; it stokes the ego. "Celebrity" defines their idea of heaven -- not to be a hero, that requires heroism, but to be a celebrity, celebrated. In an instant, they can be on every new channel, the cover of Time, be talked of overseas, an experience that would otherwise take a lifetime of hard work and luck. Why, Nobel Prize winners don't become celebrities like that, despite decades of hard work and genius!
In Mesa, AZ, two crooks try to steal an ATM, using a backhoe and a trailer. They didn't count on the weight of the concrete-encased ATM, and it crushed their trailer. Needless to say, all this made a lot of noise, and a police officer came over to investigate the racket.
A 16 yr old shoots at a car because he thinks it has gang members in it (I'd assume he was a gang member himself)... and gets probation.
Not that I'm on a soapbox about sentencing -- the primary effect of "get tough on crime" is to motivate each session of a legislature to up the penalties, to where sentences often exceed anything that is reasonable, and things that should be misdemeanors get classed as felonies. But probation for an apparently gang-related attempted homicide is out of line.
While Florida crime rates are dropping, the District of Columbia has declared a crime emergency "Alan Senitt, was attacked in the Georgetown area on Sunday, his throat was slit and police say the attackers attempted to rape his companion. It was the 13th homicide in the city this month. Robberies are up 14 percent, and armed assaults have jumped 18 percent in the past 30 days."
(Via Don Kates): Prof. Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule have an article in the Stanford Law Review, surveying studies on capital punishment. The great majority of the studies appear to indicate it has a substantial deterrent effect on homicide. The Stanford Law Review site is here: keep scrolling down to issue No. 3. There's also an article in response, and Sunstein & Vermeule's reply to it.
The LA Times notes that, due to prison overcrowding, California is giving early release even to violent inmates. It cites the case of a gang-banger who committed a murder, was then caught with drugs and a sawed-off shotgun, and served six days. A few meditations in extended remarks below.
The Raleigh News-Observer has a letter to the editor from John Lott, defending his studies against another letter to the editor that claimed his results did not stand up when others performed similar studies. Lott links to a page listing numerous studies, which he says support his conclusions that liberal CCW reduces crime.
The Danville PA newpaper is reporting that an arrest has been made in the case of a fake easter bunny who flashed a firearm at several teens.
I'm relieved that they report it was a fake Easter Bunny. I'd hate to think the real one would be this reckless.
Don Kates sent the following -- he ran a book review on History News Network, got a reader query, and composed the following:
MURDER IN AMERICA: A HISTORY (Ohio State U. Press) by the Haverford College social scientist/historian Roger Lane:
Lane's MURDER IN AMERICA emphasizes industrialization as a violence-reductive factor in the Western World: the Industrial Revolution required and produced disciplined, orderly work forces.1 Current American murder rates are driven by the very disproportionate murder rates among some Afro-Americans.2 These disproportionate rates may be attributed to the virtual exclusion of Afro-Americans from major sectors of employment during the post-Civil War period which continued through the mid-20th Century. ]
AFRO-AMERICAN HOMICIDE RATES
As indicated in my article DO GUNS CAUSE CRIME?, murder rates seem to have diminished across Europe from the period before guns existed. The decline was particularly marked in Europe from the 18th Century on.
The major exception to this has been rates of homicide by blacks which are six to eight times higher than white murder rates in both the US and England. Reader Mark Clark (presumably not the general, who is long deceased) queries the reasons.
It should be noted that some studies have suggested that rates of black homicide and other violence are no greater than those of similarly situated (i.e., economically deprived) whites. See, Brandon S. Centerwall, "Race, Socioeconomic Status and Domestic Homicide, Atlanta, 1971-72," 74 AM. J. PUB. HLTH. 813, 815 (1984) (reporting results of research and discussing prior studies). See also Darnell F. Hawkins, "Inequality, Culture, and Interpersonal Violence," 12 HEALTH AFFAIRS 80 (1993). For a discussion assailing racist theories of the prevalence of violence see Jerome A.Neapolitan, "Cross-National Variation in Homicide; Is Race A Factor?" 36 CRIMINOLOGY 139 (1998).
The only time I have treated this matter at any length was in a never-finished article written a few years ago. Though large parts of it have been published elsewhere, the portion on black homicide has not, nor have I revised it here. In fact it is not my own research, but rather relies almost exclusively on the seminal work of historian Roger Lane (see below).
He emphasizes industrialization as a violence-reductive factor in the Western World: the Industrial Revolution required and produced disciplined, orderly work forces. Current American murder rates are driven by the very disproportionate murder rates among some Afro-Americans. Thus John DiIulio argues that "America does not have a crime problem; inner city America has a crime problem." John J. DiIulio, "The Question of Black Crime," 117 THE PUBLIC INTEREST 3 (1994) also quoting 1969 National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence to the same effect; id. at 5.
We have added emphasis to DiIulio's words to focus attention on the geographic limitation which refutes any notion that race per se is the factor underlying the Afro-American homicide rate. It is not Afro-American homicide per se that makes the American homicide rate so enormous, but rather "inner-city" homicide grossly distorts both American and Afro-American homicide rates. As we shall see, urban blacks actually have far less gun ownership than either whites in general or rural blacks. Yet the gun murder rate among young black urban males is 9.3 times higher than among young black rural males. Lois A. Fingerhut, et al., "Firearm and Non-Firearm Homicide Among Persons 15 Through 19 Years of Age: Differences by Level of Urbanization, U.S. 1979-89," 267 Journal of the American Medical Ass'n. 3048, 3049, Table 1 (1992). Obviously, neither guns nor race can account for the fact of homicide being so much less among the well-armed rural Afro-American population than among their relatively poorly armed urban compeers. The obvious lesson is that, whatever their race, the small fraction of (highly aberrant) people who want to murder find guns regardless of how prevalent guns may be in their general community.
Historically, disproprotionate black homicide rates may be attributed to the virtual exclusion of Afro-Americans from major sectors of employment during the post-Civil War period which continued through the mid-20th Century. Lane's seminal research has documented the role of racism in both promoting murder by Afro-Americans and excluding them from the violence-reductive effects of industrial employment: In the post- Civil War period though black murder rates were high, they were far lower than today ... and lower than those of their immigrant Irish competitors while Italian murder rates [when Italians began immigrating] soared well above those of blacks.
[ A]fter the [Civil W]ar both unions and employers, all over the country, combined to drive [blacks out of high paying trades]... [ F]actory work, all across the country was considered too good for black workers.
[ Black homicide is] another social-psychological [deprivation that] resulted from black exclusion from the regimenting effects of industrial and bureaucratic work. These effects are shown in the relatively rapid decline in homicide rates among Irish and Italian immigrants, two other ethnic groups with high levels of preindustrial violence, as their integration into the industrial work force demanded unprecedented levels of sober, disciplined, orderly behavior, which carried over into their private lives.
[ Later when they were] no longer shut out of the urban-industrial revolution, blacks were instead let in too late. During the 1940s and 1950s blacks in effect were piped aboard a sinking ship, welcomed into the urban industrial age just as that age was dying, with industrial cities losing population and jobs.
[ In late 19th Century Philadelphia] blacks consistently outscored their competitors on written tests of all kinds...  Even the white press generally agreed that black civil servants (and, a historian would add, blacks as a group) were overqualified for the [low level jobs to which they were confined] in this era, as a result of a general refusal to promote them to positions where they might have authority of any kind over white workers.
[ Blacks were acutely aware of the need for education and struggled heroically to attain it. B]lack literacy in the city soared from roughly 20 percent to 80 percent over the final thirty years of the [19th C]entury ...
[Philadelphia blacks included doctors, lawyers and other professionals -- graduates of Harvard, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania. But] that was no guarantee that they could make a living. As whites would not hire them and blacks could not afford them, licensed black physicians were found working as bellhops.... In the early 20th Century not one of Philadelphia' black attorneys could make a living through his law practice alone.
The lesson blacks learned from this was that for them education had no economic value.
(NOTE: the quotes just given are taken from Lane's MURDER IN AMERICA, pp. 181-85, 298-300 and 327, as well as Roger Lane, "Black Philadelphia, Then and Now" 108 THE PUBLIC INTEREST 35, 42 (Fall, Summer, 1992) and Roger Lane, ROOTS OF VIOLENCE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA: 1860-1900 (Cambridge, Harvard U.Press, 1986).
Gary Kleck, Tomislav Kovandzic, and Mark Schaffer have a new study out, entitled Gun Prevalence, Homicide Rates and Causality.
An all too typical article on the issue. When Boston homicide rates plummetted during the 1990s, it must have been the gun laws. Now that they're at record rates, it must be the fault of guns coming in from other states. (Why that wouldn't have happened in the 1990s is nowhere explained). Gun traffickers are said to be buying 12 to 20 guns at a time and reselling them (altho how that's happening, with bars to purchases by nonresidents, and the requirement that any multiple handgun sales be reported to ATFE is unexplained).
The article does not explain that contradiction between this, and its statement that crime guns recovered in Boston are difficult to trace because they were sold so long ago.
The article at least acknowledges that there are two other things coming into play here. In the 90s, Boston was part of "Operation Ceasefire," targetting gang members who owned gun illegally. The approach has since been dropped (city officials blame declines in federal funding -- although why Boston can't fund its own police, and thought this was the program to be dropped, is not explained). Boston's police employment has fallen by 10%, even as the gang members locked up in the 90s are now being released. Frankly, it sounds as if the city got complacent. With homicide levels low, it figured it could back off, and scrapped the program that was keeping the levels low.
The Village Voice has an article on how NYC is cooking the books to drive crime figures down. Thefts are being officially logged as "lost property," and even as hospital treatment for assault is rising, assault statistics are falling. Apparently the City wants lower crime so as to look better to tourists and make the city administration look good. If it can't have lower crime, it'll settle for lower reported crime. [Thanks to Budd Schroeder for the story]
And here's a personal experience -- a victim's report of pickpocketing is downgraded to lost property, until he spends several days of investigation and waiting to meet police requirements. (Most interesting is the two police divisions, each of which states it can do nothing until the other accepts a report).
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Keith Carter opened fire on a pair of police officers with an illegal (of course) submachinegun, not injuring either but riddling their car with 60 rounds. He fled but was later arrested.
One of the arresting officers (who was also in the pait that were fired upon) had no trouble recognizing him. Six months before, Carter had fired upon him with another illegal submachinegun, and had been arrested for that!
The magistrate let him out with a $5,000 bond. Sounds like a cluster-**** all around. In the first case, assault on an officer wasn't charged, since it wasn't possible to prove he knew his target was an undercover officer. Can't find any articles on what was charged in the first case, but you'd expect attempted murder for starters. Either (a) there was some massive foulup in the charging process, or (b) the judge thought a $5000 bond sufficient for attempted murder, etc.
BTW, he was also free on bond arising from two earlier drug arrests.
Here's an article on the attack, which discusses the housing project in which it occurred. Apparently the place was in the grips of a war between two gangs. Victims of shootings were tight-lipped. Not too surprising, if the attacker could post a $5000 bond and be gunning for snitches tommorrow.
Clayton Cramer has some thoughts on an aspect of the Tacoma mall shooting -- there was an armed CCW permitee within firing range, but he hesitated to fire. Clayton sees this (and his own experiences) as suggestive that CCW holders tend to be all too responsible, rather than trigger-happy.
An interesting report that New York City may be cooking the books on its crime statistics.
It wouldn't be the first time. If memory serves me correction, at one point in the early 1960s the folks who compiled the FBI Uniform Crime Statisics stopped taking reports from NYC, on the grounds that the figures were obviously cooked to make NYC sound safer than it was.