New York bus murder scene (courtesy nydailnews.com)

“A callous gunman blasted away at a city bus in Queens on Saturday, killing a 14-year-old girl riding inside,” nydailynews.com reports. “Police sources said the unidentified shooter fired off up to 10 shots at the Q6 bus as it idled by a bus stop near Baisley Pond Park on Sutphin Boulevard and Rockaway Boulevard in South Jamaica just after 8:45 p.m.” Once again, I’d bet dollars to donuts that the shooter had a criminal record and was gang-affiliated. So even if this shooting wasn’t gang related, it was. In fact, it’s time for a quick reminder that America doesn’t have a gun problem. We have a gang problem . . .

To see “gun violence” stats in context, pull suicides out of the roughly 30k firearms-related deaths in the U.S. (e.g. 2011). That leaves some 20k firearms-related homicides. So how many of these are gang-related? No one knows for sure. But let’s just say Queens police aren’t seeing a whole lot of people without criminal records shooting and killing a 14-year-old girl on a bus. Or anyone else for that matter.

Actually, we can do better than that. Click here for the U.S. Census Bureau’s list of U.S. murders (all types) by location in 2009.

Gun rights advocates like to point out that the cities with the most murders are the ones with the most draconian firearms laws. True story. But it’s also true that they’re the cities with the highest level of gang activity.

New York City? Oakland? Chicago? Los Angeles? Of course. But what about Buffalo, New York (22.3 murders per 100k population)? Clock this policeone.com story from last year:

Gunfire has killed eight people in the past three weeks, and none of the homicide cases has resulted in an arrest. Seven of the victims were black men, and seven of the eight were in their 20s or younger. Police do not believe most of the shootings were random. Instead, killers were dishing out street justice, and if innocent victims got in the way, so be it.

What is even more frightening is that the toll could have been much higher. Since the beginning of the year, 105 people in Buffalo have been shot; 13 of them were killed. During the same period last year, 60 people suffered gunshot wounds. That’s a more than 70 percent increase.

In case you didn’t know, “street justice” is a gangland euphemism for what happens to wayward members and rival gang members. Here’s a joco913.com story about gang activity in Kansas City (20.6 murders per 100k population) spilling over into nearby Johnson County:

Building a statistical framework to put gang activity in context is as difficult for Johnson County as it is easy in Kansas City. For years, Kansas City police have said that the city is home to more than 400 gangs and 3,000 members and affiliates . . .

County disaster planning documents identified nine “known gangs in Johnson County” in 2009, many in Olathe, but others scattered elsewhere.

Steve Edwards, an Overland Park gang officer, said his department has identified up to 80 gang members living in that city. During the last five years police there have had contact with about 180 gang members or their associates, though some of the people involved in those contacts live elsewhere.

And so on. Wherever gangs thrive “gun violence” appears.

No coincidence, that. It would be nice to have some hard stats on exactly how many firearms-related homicides are gang-related—in the sense that the shooter or shooters were members of a gang. But you don’t need a Criminology degree to figure this one out.

Nor do you have to be the brain of Britain to see that laws restricting the lawful purchase of firearms are going to do sweet FA to stop the “gun violence” plaguing America’s inner cities. The only way to tackle that issue would be to A) lock-up violent criminals and B) keep them locked-up.

As for tackling the gangs themselves, good luck with that. Employment programs, ex-con interventions, renewed commitment to education, yada yada yada. As long as there’s an illegal drug trade funneling billions (with a b) of dollars into organized crime coffers there’s no chance whatsoever of eliminating the main source of America’s firearms-related deaths.

Gun control in America is security theater. And that’s the truth.

51 Responses to The Truth About “Gun Violence”

  1. “In fact, it’s time for a quick reminder that America doesn’t have a gun problem. We have a gang problem . . .”

    Lets finish the thought. Do you know why we have a gang problem?

    I do. The progressive movement is the exact reason.

    • There were gangs long before Great Society entitlements or even the New Deal. Blame Prohibition if anything for getting that ball rolling.

      • Prohibition was pushed by…..what for it…..Progressives!

        So in this sense ST would be right, however as you stated
        gangs existed long before. What’s interesting is the gang
        dynamic when viewed over the long term. For instance
        many immigrants formed gangs and regionalized living
        areas for a multitude of reasons; safety, cultural and
        lingual being chief among them. As individuals became
        more integrated with the community and gained a
        financial foothold membership in gangs would start to dwindle. Most gangs would only last a decade or less.
        Unfortunately one group in the last century has pushed
        for complete segregation (lately through their own
        hypocritical calls for diversity). One of the main tenants
        of this segregation is financial. This group pushes
        monetary dependency while disallowing quality
        education. This creates pockets of individuals (usually
        minorities) under severe economic depression and
        no way to climb out. These areas become a haven for
        the creation and advancement of gang culture. And
        what is this group that bears major responsibility for
        these policies that promulgate gangs? Progressives.

        • True, though it would be more exact to blame Prohibition on an alliance between progressives and Christian conservatives. Protestant Churches were strong backers of prohibition measure going back to the mid-19th century, and the 18th amendment which established Prohibition was widely supported in order to pass. And whatever responsibility progressives might bear for the persistence of gangs in America, let us credit the cultural resilience of gang culture, even when economic opportunity has allowed for so much upward mobility. Mafia dons are still with us, even after their wives have achieved their own reality shows.

      • I simplify even further.

        Wherever you find government interference with consumption practices, you get a black market. A black market has no legal recourse or police protection by definition, because its illegal, and the need for that security is filled by gangs.

        End of equation.

    • Progressives? Hardly. Did you skip the following part of the article?

      Seven of the victims were black men, and seven of the eight were in their 20s or younger

      And we all know the vast majority of murders are intra-racial.

  2. As many have said before, if you could magically remove the guns from the “gun violence” problem and you’ll still have a violence problem. Take the violence out and you don’t have a problem.

      • I think what Carlos is saying is that a dude is gonna be violent with whatever is at hand. Taking guns out of the situation doesn’t stop that, it just leaves the victim with less options to defend himself from the violence.

  3. Robert,
    Sorry but you overstated gun homicides from your own data link. The correct # of 2011 gun homicides is 11k, not 20k.

    • And I read somewhere else (no idea where now) that something like 80% of the gun homicides were criminal-on-criminal, which is about as close as you can get to gang and drug war killings. That leaves 3K “ordinary” murders every year, or 1 per 100K, or 8 per day.

      At least that my memory, and I’m sticking with it 🙂

    • I caught that too, but I would not trust that website for the true number of homicides with a firearm. That website is claming that the US homicide rate for 2011 is 5.1 while accourding to the FBI it was 4.7. The also claim there were 15,959 total homicides while the FBI is showing 14,612 for 2011. Between the FBI and an anti gun website I trust the FBI numbers much more. (actually I trust the FBI numbers more than a Pro gun website as well since many time I have seen while well intentioned misreport facts when it comes to numbers.)

    • Actually the number of *unjustified* gun homicides in 2011 was 7,992, based on the FBI’s uniform crime reporting (UCR) database. It was around 8,500 homicides, but then you take out law enforcement and citizen “justified shootings”, and it drops to 7,992. And it’s been dropping for over a decade!

      • That 8583 is not the full count of homicides committed with firearms. When they do those calculations it is only based on cases where they received additional information other than just it happened. The only received information for 86.6% of cases. Now assuming that those other homicides break down in a similar manner as the ones which they got a report the total number of homicides would be about 9892 not that 8583. That of course is if the assumption is true, but it very easily be that certain types of homicides are more likely not to get reports for example may be gang violence which could mean that those with missing reports are a higher percentage firearm related. On the other hand maybe it’s cases of missing people assumed dead where there may be a lower percentage than average that are firearm related.

  4. “Police sources said the unidentified shooter fired off up to 10 shots at the Q6 bus”

    Naw, that can’t be right. They have a 7 round mag cap law in NY. The police must have gotten their facts mixed up. How many times will we make this same comment after a shooting in NY.

  5. The US has a disparity of wealth and poverty problem. I saw an article the other day that said in NYC, 50% of the households are at poverty level or below. 50%.

    Poor desperate people do desperate things. Thus has it always been.

    • Takes smarts to run a criminal enterprise. Gang people are not poor, they’re loaded (selling drugs) but unwilling to seek lawful employment to rise above their station. They can not speak well enough to to take orders at taco bell, pants hang below their asses thus preventing employment, and the liberal are standing in the que to help them through a government program. Less than 50 percent of gang members care about improving themselves and live with one eye checking six.

      Police are useless curbing gang activity and when they do something the judicial system revolves them back to the street..

      Give them more guns and let them cull themselves.

      • “Gang people are not poor, they’re loaded (selling drugs) but unwilling to seek lawful employment to rise above their station. ”

        Higher ups maybe but the average cornerboy slanging dope, the one to most likely be the one browbeaten into doing the shooting, makes less than someone flipping burgers at McDonalds.

        End the Drug War, refund public schools, abolish standardized testing, stop treating poor people like cattle and keep violent criminals in jail where they belong. There I solved the crime problem in the US.

  6. Right on. Just look at a map. Conveniently, most major cities now have a crime map. 90% of homicides in Chicago occur in the poorest neighborhoods. Same with Baltimore, DC, NYC, and so on. Meanwhile, Tayvon White, the leader of the BGF made 20k/month in jail selling drugs and cellphones to inmates. I know some ivy-league grads with loads of school loans who don’t make that. If I lived in one of those neighborhoods, went to public school, and saw people driving around in cool cars…

    • Economic status has little to do with the problem, if you compare similar low class neighborhoods in majority white areas, these murder are a fraction of they are in Chicago.

  7. Locking up gang members by itself isn’t the answer either. Here in CA we’ve got so many people in lockup they’re having to turn bunches of them loose because there’s no place to keep them. What we really need to do is bring back the death penalty for murders, rapists, child mollestors, etc. There are certain actions which forfeit a person’s right to life as a human being.

  8. Why so cagy, so circumspect? Anyone who can find the above statistics can also find the UCR breakdown on demographics.

    I’m no fan of Lincoln, but we lost every last chance of avoiding this inevitable state of urban street warfare when his killing sank the post-conflict cause to which he was most passionately devoted- one which involved Liberia and many seagoing barges.

    There, cagy and circumspect.

    • I’m sorry wonderbread but rounding up all the black people forcing them onto ships and sending them back to Africa won’t end violence in America. Just thought you should know that.

  9. Don’t forget that there were 5 gun homicides in Chicago last weekend, and at least two of the 14 wounded may not survive. The article strongly suggests that most of these are gang related hits.

  10. I don’t think we’re going to see a really significant drop in gun violence until we face up to the fact that the “war on drugs,” much like every other war on an idea we’ve tried over the last two decades, has been an abysmal failure. We could spend 1/3 of the money currently spent to stop drug use with the use of law enforcement/military for drug interdiction and the human warehousing of 1.3M users and small time dealers, and see a better return on investment by putting it into education and treatment. As a side benefit, we’d drastically cut down on the violence associated with users trying to procure funds for the next fix, and the violence/corruption that comes from to protect/expand a thriving black market trade with enormous profits.

    It’s amazing how little this country learns from it’s own history and mistakes.

    • Takes smarts to run a criminal enterprise. Gang people are not poor, they’re loaded (selling drugs) but unwilling to seek lawful employment to rise above their station. They can not speak well enough to to take orders at taco bell, pants hang below their asses thus preventing employment, and the liberal are standing in the que to help them through a government program. Less than 50 percent of gang members care about improving themselves and live with one eye checking six.

      Police are useless curbing gang activity and when they do something the judicial system revolves them back to the street..

      Give them more guns and let them cull themselves.

    • War on drugs is a lie. One friend relayed for every dollar spent, the justice department makes 4 confiscating property purchased with drug money.

      Wall Street would love a return like that

  11. I hate to be the one to point it out but…
    Your jumping to the gang problem before having any definitive knowledge of that link reminds me a bit of that leap the gun control advocates took after another recent senseless (is there any other kind?) act of violence, with them blaming someone on our side of the argument before any investigatory work had been done. We called them on that egregious leap. We shouldn’t be guilty of making similar leaps without the facts.
    You may very well be proven correct in your assessment but what if it was something else? We don’t want to be the one’s with the log in our eye, do we?

    • Except RF is actually correct – especially in LA and Chicago. Gang violence is off the charts.

  12. I think the government, in league with the banksters, knows exactly what it’s doing in this War on Drugs. Same as the War on Terrorism. Just ask Danny Casolaro and Gary Webb. Well, that would’ve been a good thought if they were still around…

  13. What is a 14 year old girl doing by herself at 2045 on a city bus? This is what is wrong with society. We are inviting evil into our lives by pretending it doesn’t exist. Then when we are forced to confront it we blame the wrong people. The gun was just the tool. The man who pulled the trigger is to blame. The parents who let her go are to blame. The people who say nothing are to blame.

    • Wait a second. That’s backwards thinking. Why shouldn’t a 14 year old girl be able to take the bus at 10:45 at night? That should be a perfectly safe activity, and is in cities not as plagued by gang violence.

      The question shouldn’t be what’s she doing on a bus, but what have we done wrong that makes it unsafe for her to be on a bus, and what can we do to fix it.

  14. All this talk about gun control and gun murder stats by both sides and still everyone ignores the most relevant stat. Black Males(about 7.5% of the US population) commit anywhere between 50-75% of all gun murders every year, most of their victims also black.
    We have a suicide, gang and black problem. Not a gun problem. Until we begin an honest conversation about this issue nothing will change for the better. It seems political correctness is more important than facts.

    • You did not read my link, did you. It lays out the convincing arguement that murders are a cultural phenomena, rather than being linked to a particular murder instrument.

      American black culture accounts for about half of all murders in the United States.

      Hispanic American culture accounts for 27 percent.

      If you apply the remaining murders to non-hispanic whites and others, the murder rate for the United States falls right into the middle of murder rates for most of Europe.

      • And those are gross numbers, when you convert them to per capita rates, non whites commit murder at far greater rates than whites; blacks are only 13% of the population.

  15. “The media insist that crime is the major concern of the American public today. In this connection they generally push the point that a disarmed society would be a crime-free society. They will not accept the truth that if you take all the guns off the street you still will have a crime problem, whereas if you take the criminals off the street you cannot have a gun problem.”

    Jeff Cooper

  16. We have a worthless thug problem is what we have…people with no morals or values who are just wasting our oxygen supply being here.

  17. Mr. Farago,

    Pretty good data is actually available. I forget the sources off the top of my head; whoever they are, they estimate that somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of violent assaults and murders are gang/drug related. The scary part is the remaining 20%. Of those, I would guess about half are domestic violence and the other half are truly random violent crime. And of the truly random violent crime, you know that felons (ex-convicts) commit most of those. We know this because countless sources tell us that recidivism is upwards of 90%.

    This breakdown has ginormous implications for anyone who thinks laws will prevent such violent attacks. Just think about it. Gang members certainly don’t care about laws. Felons who continue their life of crime (recidivism) certainly don’t care about laws. And the attackers in domestic violence cases are determined to harm/kill a current or ex spouse — those attackers certainly don’t care about laws. In other words all the laws in the world will not prevent the three groups of criminals that are responsible for about 99% of all violent assaults and murders.

    This is reality. It is the unfortunate truth. I really believe the masses and our policy makers need to know this so they can make informed decisions that actually have a chance of accomplishing some good. Policies that ignore this reality are doomed to fail miserably. You can take that to the bank.

  18. Can’t be possible that in NY someone had 10 rounds in a magazine. He must have reloaded. Sad thing the loss any person at the hands of a CRIMINAL. Now let’s get CUOMO to make another law that the CRIMINAL WONT obey! Hey CUOMO how is it possible that this CRIMINAL had 10 rounds? How is it possible that the NY SAFE act didn’t STOP the CRIMINAL? OH I know CRIMINALS DON’T OBEY LAWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What if it doesn’t save any?

  19. To join and be part of a gang, the worst ones force you to go shoot someone. Pretty much prevents any undercover cop from becoming a member. If anyone thinks that banning firearms is going to stop these extreme forms of gang initiations, they’re delusional. There’s not many logical ways to deal with this except a zero-tolerance policy for gangs and gang violence. Until the gangs are first eradicated, the local neighborhood can neither benefit nor heal.

  20. No, America has a gun problem, there are not enough of them in the right hands. The perp should have been shot down(swiss cheesed). This would send a nice lesson to the bangers, something even a crackhead could understand, Randy

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