More Guns, Less Crime
Just after Barack Obama won the presidency, gun sales rose dramatically, in the fear that he’d be going out rounding up firearms. Well, that round-up didn’t happen, but something else didn’t happen either; a rise in crime.
After all, it has been an article of faith among gun-control advocates that guns cause crime. That catechism was repeated relentlessly after the 2008 Heller ruling, in which the Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on gun ownership: "Introducing more handguns into the District will mean more handgun violence," D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty lamented.
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin agreed: "There is no question that this decision from the Supreme Court makes it harder for all mayors to keep their city safe," she told NPR. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley called the ruling "very frightening." The New York Times fumed the court had "all but ensured that even more Americans will die senselessly." The Chicago Tribune issued an equally nuanced and measured response: "Repeal the Second Amendment," it begged.
Yet despite a remarkable uptick in gun sales, during the first six months of 2009 violent crime fell 4.4 percent, property crime fell 6.6 percent, homicides fell 10 percent, and car thefts fell 19 percent.
As Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute recently pointed out, the falling crime rate was particularly precipitous in big cities such as Los Angeles, where homicides fell 17 percent in 2009, and New York, where they fell 19 percent.
If guns caused crime, then we should have expected precisely the opposite to happen — particularly given the related liberal belief, which Mac Donald dissects, that hard economic times drive people to desperate acts. Among others, she quotes a New York Times editorial in late 2008 fretting that "the economic crisis has clearly created the conditions for more crime and more gangs among hopeless, jobless young men in the inner cities." If liberal orthodoxy held true, then the combination of hard times and more guns should have made the past year a record-setting period for bloodshed. It didn’t.
And yet this perfect storm of circumstances, long held by liberals as a reason for crime, not only didn’t happen, but things went precisely in the opposite direction. I’ve been noting this for over seven years now.
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