Let's talk about what REALLY reduces violent crime
Whenever there's a violent crime involving a gun, the response from gun control advocates is predictable. They always say, "let's talk about more gun laws."
High-capacity magazine bans. Assault weapon bans. Universal background checks. No gun zones. Ammo taxes. Microstamping. You name it, gun control groups want it. The problem is, their proposals seldom have any relationship to the crime they're talking about. And none are proven to reduce violent crime.
Maybe it's time we stop talking about what the gun control lobby wants and start talking about what actually works. So let's talk about what really reduces violent crime.
Here are 3 suggestions:
1. Hire more police.
We know there's a direct relationship between the number of cops and the number of crimes because we've seen it in action.
According to Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in their book Freakonomics, from 1960 to 1985, the number of police in the U.S. fell more than 50% relative to the number of crimes being committed. And this happened at the same time that crime was surging. By the 1990's, the public was fed up with high crime rates and cities across the country began hiring more police resulting in a drop in crime.
You've probably heard about the great New York City turnaround. Crime was out of control, but during the 1990's, the city saw the greatest drop in crime among America's largest cities. From 1990 to 2000, homicide rates plummeted from 30.7 per 100,000 people to 8.4 per 100,000 people. That's nearly a 74% drop in homicide over a decade!
And what did New York do to bring about this result? They went on a hiring frenzy. The New York Police Department grew by 45%. Police both deter crime and provide the manpower to apprehend and imprison those who are committing crime.
More cops. Less Crime.
2. Enforce the law.
We have plenty of laws on the books right now. Assuming we have laws to prevent crime, those laws must be enforced to have the desired effect. Right?
It's already against the law to make straw purchases. It's already against the law to possess a firearm if you're a felon. It's already against the law to falsify background check information. Why isn't there an emphasis on these and other crimes?
Take a look at how the Obama administration failed to enforce background check laws. In 2009, the FBI reported that people lied on background checks in 71,000 separate instances. But how many cases did the the Justice Department prosecute? Just 77.
What's the point of more gun laws if existing ones are not enforced?
More enforcement. Less crime.
3. Keep criminals locked up.
The early 1960's saw greater emphasis on the rights of the accused. That's not a bad thing, because it led to many reforms that protect our rights against an all-powerful government. But it also led to what some might say was an era of going "soft on crime," with declining conviction rates and shorter sentences.
But as we discussed earlier, the nation's attitude eventually started to change as crime rates rose. Again according to statistics from Levitt and Dubner, from 1980 to 2000 a crackdown led to a 15-fold increase in the number of people imprisoned for drug offenses, along with longer sentences for violent crime.
The resulting drop in crime was predictable. When you keep dangerous people locked up, they're not out on the street committing violent acts.
More time. Less crime.
These 3 things alone could reduce criminal shootings by up to 50%. But gun control advocates express no interest in such measures. Why? Because they're not really interested in reducing crime. They focus solely on reducing the number of guns and obstructing access to guns because they don't like guns. They consider guns the cause of crime. They conflate good guys with guns and bad guys with guns. Their operating principle is that everyone with a gun is a potential murderer or terrorist.
This flies in the face of everything we know about guns and crime, which is that the overwhelming majority of violent "gun crime" is committed by a tiny fraction of the population, who live in a small number of easily identifiable locations, and who have no respect for the law, making new gun laws moot.
This is the conversation we should be having. But don't hold your breath. Crime isn't what gun control advocates want to talk about.
Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, #1 NRA Recruiter for 2013, business owner and partner with Second Call Defense.