Nearly half of Columbus' homicides in a nine-month stretch of 2020 involved a very small number of very violent individuals
Whenever crime is in the headlines, we find anti-Second Amendment politicians directly responsible for addressing crime in their cities running to the microphone to blame the existence of firearms. The truth is, as gun owners already know, the problem is people, not the gun.
A team of researchers with the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) recently worked with the Columbus Division of Police to review 107 homicides between January and September of last year in an effort to pin down who is driving the city's lethal violence.
The Columbus Dispatch gave details from the study:
They found that about 480 total members of 17 gangs — roughly 0.05% of the city’s population — were confirmed or suspected to be involved in 46% of the homicides, either as victims, perpetrators or both.
Dispatch writer Theodore Decker goes on to dispute Mayor Andrew J. Ginther's assertion, upon the release of the report, that "the violence we're seeing today is different."
The mayor talked about this as though it were unplowed ground. He said that in response, the city is assessing existing anti-violence strategies and beefing up newer efforts to target that core group of individuals who are most at risk of being victims or perpetrators of violence.
That is a valid approach, but it is not a new one. Criminologists have recommended variations of this strategy for many years, and in Columbus, some of them were rebuffed by city leaders nearly 10 years ago.
Columbus, like other cities, has seen a sharp rise in homicidal violence both this year and last. But the trend is not entirely unprecedented.
If the current pace keeps up, we are certain to surpass last year's record 175 homicides. Should we reach 200, which looks likely the way things are going, the per capita breakdown would come close to 22 homicides per every 100,000 people.
We hit that same rate in 1991. While 139 homicides occurred that year, the city was much smaller. In that sense, the current level of violence is not unheard of.
And to suggest the violence today is inherently different, as the mayor would have us believe, contradicts much of the report.
In addition to the information — it was not a revelation — that much of the violence is driven by a very limited pool of violent actors, the study found that homicides often were tangled up in petty beefs and interpersonal disputes.
That also is not new.
In more than half of the killings, the victim and suspect knew each other. They are overwhelmingly male.
Also not new, Decker says, were many of the names on the list of 17 gangs, some of which have been known for decades:
"The violence we're seeing today is different, and so we need a new plan," the mayor said on Tuesday.
No, the violence isn't different. But clearly we do need a new plan. And as for Step 1, perhaps we could be direct and honest about the history and nature of the problem.
The Columus Dispatch and Decker don't have a stellar track record when it comes to accurate reporting on firearms legislation and Second Amendment issues, but this article calls a spade a spade, and I am thankful for it.
Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019, and continues to serve on the Board of Directors. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.