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Two sets of numbers regarding violent crime have me pondering this morning.
The first set is reassuring and comes via the Washington Post’s Radley Balko. Despite all the efforts to portray the contrary — from scaremongering about terrorism, police abuse, gangs, spree-killers, etc. — 2015 will very likely be the second least violent year in the United States since it began keeping records over a century ago. Moreover, that trend was matched by stats regarding police death rates via firearms, which are also at near-record lows this year (only 2013 was better). Both of these are consistent with long-term trends.
There were some exceptions — St. Louis, Detriot, and Baltimore in particular and, to a much lesser extent, New York City — but it is wonderful news to see further confirmation that the War on Crime continues to be an enormous success while the War on Cops turned out to be a total bust. This is important and polling shows that people believe that things are actually getting worse.
The second set of numbers is unsettling, and gets at part of why discussions on violent crime often go so badly. I came by it through NRO’s David French, who linked to this WP piece, which refers, in part, to this from Brookings. From the Post:
Among whites, 77 percent of gun deaths are suicides. But among black Americans, 82 percent of gun deaths are homicides…
[Moreover,] this high homicide rate comes from a population with a much lower rate of gun ownership. Roughly “41 percent of white households own guns, compared with to just 19 percent of black households.” In other words, when it comes to guns — white and black Americans live different lives. White Americans don’t experience much criminal gun violence but have much greater experience with guns. Widespread gun ownership doesn’t lead to criminal carnage, so fear-based gun control arguments simply don’t ring true.
Though I’d wager that gun ownership among blacks is under-reported — well, more under-reported than it’s believed to be among whites or general population — I still found it a bracing way to think about the matter. One interesting side effect of the lack of fathers and positive role models among African Americans may be that it perpetuates ignorance of responsible firearm ownership. That is, if the people you encounter who own guns are overwhelmingly criminals rather than someone who takes you to the range on a Saturday if you have your homework done, it’s easy to see why guns are equated with criminality itself.Published in