One of my all time favorite articles demonstrating the cluelessness of the mainstream media, and similarly intentioned enemies of individual liberty, was a brief article in–if memory serves–the Chicago Tribune. It was a decade or more ago, and the link I had stopped working years ago, but the thrust of the story was that incarceration rates had skyrocketed, yet the crime rate continued to decline! The editorial writer was genuinely puzzled. How could that possibly be? More criminals in jail, yet less crime? Why, it just didn’t make sense! The larger question is . . .
how supposedly educated people, people who, holding at least an undergraduate degree and were exposed to the study of logic, can so utterly fail to employ that reasoning ability, and simple. The answer is fairly simple: ideology trumps logic.
The editorial writer was obviously of the belief that too many people in jail–perhaps any–is a bad thing, an indicator society itself is failing. To believe this, one must ignore the deterrent effect of prison. Deterrence isn’t universal; some felons commit crimes once released from prison. But it’s equally true that a relatively small number of criminals commit most of the crimes in any given area, and when in jail, they aren’t making life miserable–or unnaturally short–for the honest and the innocent. That, arguably, is prison’s greatest benefit, unless of course one doesn’t see even that as a net benefit to society.
It’s no coincidence that those prone to seeing hardened criminals as victims of society also tend of possess the ideology that blinds them to the benefits of self-defense and gun ownership. A contemporary example is provided by the Washington Post, where one Peter Galuszka writes:
“Virginians have been buying more firearms than ever, even though crime has been steadily falling. Why?
Last year, 420,829 firearms were bought through licensed gun dealers in the state. That’s a 73 percent increase over 2006. Leading the list were pistols (175,717), followed by rifles (135,495). According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, central Virginians packed more heat than anyone else, followed closely by Northern Virginians.
And yet, as more firearms are sold, the crime rate has continued to drop. From 2006 to 2011, the number violent crimes committed with handguns fell from 4,040 to 3,154, about 25 percent, the newspaper reported.
Is there a correlation between increased gun sales and decreasing crime?”
That’s an interesting, but unremarkable question. Mr. Galuszka is a blogger, apparently part of a Washington DC group of contributing bloggers. Reading on, one might almost expect Mr. Galuszka to employ logic, but considering he’s writing in the Washington Post, a newspaper not the least friendly to the Second Amendment and firearm owners, that assumption might also be illogical.
“Indeed, some believe that hardened criminals are less likely to threaten victims if they know there’s a chance they could end up looking down the barrel of a 9 mm Glock, or perhaps something that fits more easily into a lady’s handbag, such as a Ruger LCP 380 Ultra Compact Pistol. And by some accounts, women as well as men are flocking to training courses and firing ranges operated by gun stores.
At first glance, ‘the data is pretty overwhelming,’ Thomas R. Baker, a criminologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, told the Richmond newspaper.”
I’ll return to Thomas R. Baker shortly, but keep in mind that there is very good reason Mr. Galuszka did not mention the actual name of the Richmond paper, or provide a link to Baker’s comments. Back to Mr. Galuszka:
“When you take a longer view, however, this thinking starts to fall apart. According to FBI reports, violent crime has been on a fairly steady downward trend since the early 1990s – much earlier than 2006, when Virginians started buying guns like crazy. The Economist magazine says the violent crime rate is at its lowest in 40 years and that the murder rate is less than it was a half a century ago.
It’s anyone’s guess why crime has continually dropped. Theories include demographic shifts resulting in fewer of the younger, inner-city men who tend to be involved in violent crime. Better community-based police work could be a cause. Some even say it’s because of large numbers of abortions by low-income women.”
It has been, for many years, common knowledge that career criminals fear guns in the hands of citizens more than in the hands of police and do all they can to avoid them. For this reason, “hot” burglaries — those where residents are home at the time — are relatively rare in America. Burglars know very well entering occupied homes can result in their becoming seriously dead.
In my many years in police work, my experience and innumerable conversations with felons also supported the academic studies on this topic: criminals really don’t like armed citizens, but have no trouble getting guns if they want them.
Mr. Galuszka’s suggestion that the reasons for dropping crime rates are mysterious is less than credible. The reasons — he touched on a few — are obvious and born out by experience. Among them is the fact that there have never been more firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens, and never more citizens carrying concealed weapons. However, Mr. Galuszka isn’t convinced:
“Among the law-abiding, gun proponents commonly suggest that one reason for the gun fad has been the fear that President Obama would crack down on gun sales. If so, it hasn’t happened yet. Some gun buyers may have worried that the recession would bring about more crime, but history shows that there was more violence in the Roaring 1920s than the Depression-racked 1930s. Mass media attention to rare shooting sprees such as those that occurred at Virginia Tech and at a movie theater in Colorado may have led others to want to be prepared in case it happened to them.”
In this, Mr. Galuszka is at least partially correct. Americans recognize Barack Obama as the greatest gun salesman in history, one of his genuine, if unintended, accomplishments. President Obama did his best to “crack down on gun sales,” but failed. He has made plain his intention to damage the Second Amendment to the greatest degree possible with his pen and phone during his final years in office.
Considering his administration has harassed and threatened banks (Operation Choke Point) in an attempt to cut off funding for firearm businesses, it’s clear Mr. Galuszka isn’t telling the whole story. I’m unaware of any well-informed gun owner that thought the recession a good reason for buying guns, other than perhaps, as investments. Mass shootings, and increasing terrorism are surely rational reasons for wanting to assume responsibility for the safety of loved ones and self, though Mr. Galuszka is apparently unwilling to recognize that logic as well.
Now, let’s look at why Mr. Galuszka wasn’t anxious to accurately quote Dr. Thomas Baker, Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. The tone of the article is very much supportive of positive societal effects for gun ownership, the opposite of Mr. Galuszka’s contentions. The Times-Dispatch asked Dr. Baker to examine relevant data for the article to which Mr. Galuszka so glancingly refers.
“The numbers appear to contradict a long-running popular narrative that more guns cause more violent crime, said Virginia Commonwealth University professor Thomas R. Baker, who compared Virginia crime data for those years with gun-dealer sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
‘While there is a wealth of academic literature attempting to demonstrate the relationship between guns and crime, a very simple and intuitive demonstration of the numbers seems to point away from the premise that more guns leads to more crime, at least in Virginia,’ said Baker, who specializes in research methods and criminology theory and has an interest in gun issues.”
Baker is clearly a cautious and reasonable man, yet his conclusions are inescapable:
“The data, Baker said, show a low probability that more guns in the hands of Virginians is causing more violent crime.
‘So while it’s difficult to make a direct causal link (that more guns are resulting in less crime), the numbers certainly present that that’s a real possibility,’ Baker added.
The opposite – that more guns are causing more crime – cannot be derived from the numbers, he said.
‘It’s mathematically not possible, because the relationship is a negative relationship – they’re moving in the opposite direction,’ Baker said. ‘So the only thing it could be is that more guns are causing less crime.’
‘From my personal point of view, I would say the data is pretty overwhelming,’ said Baker, who is new to VCU and studied under Florida State University professors Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, whose nationally recognized research on guns and homicides in the District of Columbia was cited in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2008 that overturned the district’s handgun ban. ‘But we’re pretty cautious in the social sciences in talking about causality. We only talk in probabilities.”
Consider the Mr. Galuszka’s conclusions:
“My view? Virginians are packing heat with gusto for the wrong reasons. They and their gun sellers are riding a wave of irrational fear that was vigorously promoted by socially conservative politicians in the 2010 and 2012 elections. As for Obama, any link between a desire for personal, deadly firepower and the election of the country’s first African American president raises some rather ugly questions.”
So Virginians bought guns because of “irrational fears,” that were realized when Mr. Obama did his best to demonize them and restrict the Second Amendment, a project he has never abandoned. And don’t forget gun owners are racists, buying guns because Barack Obama, a president elected to two terms in office, is black. Mr. Galuszka is apparently as unaware of American history, as is President Obama. Gun control has its very roots in racism, as historian Clayton Cramer has so well documented.
More guns, less crime? That’s eminently logical, and John R. Lott has proved it years ago. Misrepresenting research, ignoring facts and substituting ideology? Par for the course for those that need to short-circuit liberty.
Mike’s Home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor.