Criminology for the Clueless
WE LOST INTEREST in the gun-control debate a couple of decades ago when one side began piling up incontrovertible data that crime was not the fault of inanimate objects but rather of a society that left fatherless young men aimlessly roaming the streets at night. The pile is about to my waist now.
At the same time, the argument of the other side required only that you unquestioningly accept the blood libel that white people are somehow at fault. Here is Heather Mac Donald writing for the Manhattan Institute:
“For the past two decades, the country has been talking about phantom police racism in order to avoid talking about a more uncomfortable truth: black crime. The best way to lower police-civilian contacts in inner-city neighborhoods would be to radically lower the crime rate there.”
And here is a summary of the research coming across my desk this week:
- A 1999 study examined 13 different gun-control policies, including waiting periods, registration, background checks, bans on assault weapons and other guns, the death penalty and harsher penalties for committing a crime with a firearm. The only policy reducing the number and severity of mass public shootings was to allow victims to defend themselves with permitted concealed handguns.
- In Canada and Britain, countries with tough gun-control laws, the percentage of burglaries where the resident is at home is about 50 percent. In the United States, with fewer restrictions on gun ownership, the rate is 13 percent.
- A study synthesizing all prior research in the United States and Canada found registration to be of no benefit in reducing any type of firearms misuse.
- Retail theft has increased 90 percent since 2018, driven not by economic hardship but by organized gangs taking advantage of woke management, lax prosecution and reduced penalties. Robberies and burglaries cannot be far behind.
Yet, as one-sided as the debate has been, few politicians dare frame it as such. Instead, it rolls on as if it were an honest disagreement among the civic-minded.
It is nothing of the sort. Gun control has never worked outside the most brutal of totalitarian regimes — Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Indeed, it is hard to resist the cynical thought that the goal is to make it easier to march us off to camps where our wedding rings and gold fillings can be collected before we are dispatched for the greater good.
But let’s assume that the political class has just fallen into a bad habit of using the words “gun control” as code for “I’m unserious about reducing crime if it has a racial component.”
Our columnist Dr. Richard McGowan, writing about the recent murder of State Trooper Aaron Smith, notes the reluctance of the politically inclined to mention an obvious pattern in crime. It is that blacks kill police officer in larger proportion to their population than other demographic groups — much larger. We call it prudence, not profiling, when the description of a suspect fits someone nine times more likely to assault you.
That would seem to demand tactical application. But no, it is not to be mentioned in polite company and certainly not in regard to law enforcement. Police officers, in determining who might be dangerous to themselves and others, are placed at a disadvantage.
We are seeing this play out in the campaign for Indianapolis mayor. Both the Republican and Democrat promise to fight for gun control (ergo, to be unserious about crime). And, predictably, they promise to spend more tax money to pursue the always elusive “root causes.”
It was interesting, then, when a third party entered the picture, one totally objective, nonpartisan and independent. What would such a party make of Indy’s twin crime-fighting mayoral hopefuls?
Not much. Gimlet-eyed insurance executives are unimpressed with the politicizing of a life-and-death issue. The Broad Ripple Village Association, which endorses the mayor’s gun-free zone, is having trouble finding coverage for its events, according to Axios Indianapolis.
“Insurance companies want to see a permanent boundary,” Axios assumes, “but Broad Ripple hasn’t settled on one because a small security barrier would exclude some bars and restaurants and a large one would make it harder to stop weapons from passing through, increasing the risk of shootings.”
Oh snap, how did we miss that? Insurance companies don’t want to be on the hook if someone decides to . . . well, ignore the mayor’s campaign strategy, succumb to root causes and shoot the place up? Actuary science might prefer actual protective measures— a virtual wall, perhaps, or policemen with both eyes open, or criminals surrounded by armed, law-abiding citizens.
If this is some sort of cultural war we are losing it. — tcl