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Reader John D. writes:

The influential lefty propagandists at The Economist are attempting, yet again, to make the case for more American gun control. But in the process, they’re mostly indicting President Obama’s political agitation and interference with law enforcement.

The explosion of homicides in America’s major cities reported by The Economist took place in President Obama’s second term as he set the stage for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Other than liberalized concealed carry in some of these cities, there has been no reduction in gun control over the period in which The Economist found homicides had begun to skyrocket.

Indeed, many of the cities experiencing sharp increases in homicides over the last several years have intensified gun control and background checks for firearms purchasers. Case in point: Illinois.

The Economist makes a secondary case that that the explosive rise in homicide rates there is due to gangs and inferior quality police work. There may be some truth in this, but the youth gang issue is one of fragmentation and the police issue is one of inadequate numbers due to ridiculous municipal spending priorities.

Youth gang membership has changed little over the last 20 years, but each city block now seems to have its own gang creating many more opportunities for conflict. Politicians in large American cities downsized their police forces during the pre-Obama decline in crime rates so they could spend more of their revenues on lefty political misadventures and the increased burden of pension liabilities.

President Obama very much encouraged this spending diversion, starting with his reckless American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Spending at all levels of government de-coupled from the actual purposes of government. Case in point: Chicago.

MURDER, which grew rarer for 20 years, is on the rise again. But by how much? In 2015, the number of murders increased by 11% nationwide. During 2016, an escalation of gang violence in Chicago left 764 people dead in a city where 485 had been killed a year before. A dispute ensued over whether the Windy City was simply an isolated example or a barometer of a wider problem. National statistics for 2016 will not be released for eight months, but to get an early sense of the answer The Economist has gathered murder statistics for 2016 for the 50 cities with the most murders. These places contain 15% of the country’s population and around 36% of murder victims. Our numbers show that, in 2016, murders increased in 34 of the cities we tracked. Three cities experienced a spike in deaths sharper than the 58% suffered by Chicago. Since cities tend to reflect the country as a whole, this suggests that the murder rate is rising at its fastest pace since the early 1970s.

Today’s violence needs to be set in context. Despite the recent uptick, the murder rate in our 50 cities was lower in 2016 than it was in 2007, and for the 26 years before that. Criminologists disagree about why murder became less common. What they do agree on is that the improvement has been uneven. Newark, just ten miles from New York city, has a murder rate that is nine times higher than its neighbour’s. And unlike New York, where murder is at just 15% of its 1990 peak, in Newark the rate has barely budged.

After the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, Heather Mac Donald, author of “The War on Cops”, offered a simple explanation for the rise in murder. The riots were a response to the killing of Michael Brown, a black man, by a police officer. The “Ferguson effect”, Mrs Mac Donald argued, occurred when police officers retreat from cities when relations with the people they serve became bitter, causing crime to go up nationwide. Murders and shootings did increase by 57% in St Louis, a city close to Ferguson, in the two years after Brown’s death. Similarly, when Freddie Gray died in the custody of Baltimore police in April 2015, murders and shootings in the city increased 70% during the year that followed. But we find little evidence for a broader “Ferguson effect” in the rest of the country. Among our 50 cities, data show that in the four months immediately after Brown’s death there was no change in the arrest rate for murder, and just a five percentage-point fall in the arrest rate for gun assaults. This does not look like a widespread retreat by the country’s police forces.

A stronger message from the individual murder records from the FBI for 50 cities is that the quality of police work, the availability of (usually illegal) guns and the chances of getting caught all matter a lot. This is partly because the motivation for murder is changing. Gang-related killings have steadily increased over the past 35 years, from just one in 100 murders in 1980 to nearly one in ten in 2015. Drug-related murders—which are likely to have some gang-related element—have increased in the past two years, after falling for two decades. In 2015 they accounted for one in 25 murders in big cities….

Read the whole thing here.

The current agitation for sentencing reform is likely to make this situation even worse. Note that the huge increase in major city homicides during 2016 found by The Economist has yet to be reported by the FBI in their Uniform Crime Reporting portal. That will come later this year.

This Obama legacy, left behind like a booby trap, presents a significant challenge for President Trump. He has a year or two at most to get this situation under control or he’ll be blamed for the increases in crime his predecessor’s policies have baked into the statistical cake. And we face a rising hue and cry from all of the usual suspects for more ever more restrictive gun control laws.

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  1. Back in the early 2000’s a rapper called 50 cent had a popular album. One of the songs included the lines

    “In the hood summer time is the killing season/
    It’s hot out this b**ch that’s a good enough reason”

    Therefore clearly the problem is Global Warming. Your air conditioner is the cause, John Kerry said so. Your AC drives people to shoot each other, so stop using it. For the children. If it saves one life it’s worth it. Oh, and AC units are too easy to get, even easier than finding a book… if you’re in the right section of Home Depot. The insanity has to stop. Did you know there’s no background check to buy an air conditioner? You can just walk in and buy a portable 14,000 BTU environmental assault machine that drives other people to shoot each other!!! You’re also 1 billion percent more likely to be killed by someone with an air conditioner filter if you have an AC unit in your house! AC control now! Moms are demanding it.

    • I’m going to argue more AC’s save lives. If you have an AC you can protect yourself, family and others in the event of an assault by climate change. With the AC I can save lives by providing a safe space of cold air. I may not need 14,000 btu’s, but it’s my right not the governments to decide how I protect my family from the hot air.

      • Can’t we at least agree on “common sense” reforms like limiting BTU capacity, banning internet sales and background checks so that we know “climate deniers” aren’t buying the things to assassinate Mother Earth? Nobody needs that many BTU’s except the government!

        Does anyone really need an air conditioner with “the thing that goes up”, and a 14,000 BTU capacity delivered to their door without a background check? No. It’s harder to use anyway. Buy a swamp cooler jay, buy a swamp cooler.

        For the damn children you heartless bastard. For the children and the more attractive moms that just aren’t getting the action they deserve.

  2. African Americans are 13% of our population and commit 51% of the homicides. 90% of the time Blacks target other Blacks. I don’t blame them as a group. Any group that has had the terrible history they have had in this country would be in the same place. If the left keeps hiding from this fact they will never find a real solution to gun crime in their districts. Though we know they don’t care about human lives they only care about control. These democrats have failed their Black American constituents. They have failed so profoundly one has to wonder what’s their motivations?

    • 90% of the time Blacks target other Blacks.

      90% of the time, Blacks vote Democrat.

      Democrats are motivated to keep things just as they are. Why change a thing?

    • African Americans are 13% of our population and commit 51% of the homicides.

      They account for 51% of homicide arrests. Their total share of homicides is likely higher. Good national information on homicide clearance rates by victim race are hard to come by, but in New York it’s something like 86% for white victims and 45% for black victims. Ultra-low overall clearance rates in Chicago where victims are overwhelmingly black suggest this is a widespread phenomenon. Since most homicides are intra-racial, that leaves a lot more black “undetected killers” out there than white.

    • I don’t blame them as a group. Any group that has had the terrible history they have had in this country would be in the same place.

      And yet there are hundreds of millions of blacks in the world that would love the opportunity to come to this country.

      Your Leftist America-hating is the result of decades of leftist indoctrination.

      Let Prager bring the clarity…..America….Still the Least Racist Country in the World

    • Why not blame them as a group? Regardless of race or economic condition, these figures apply to this group. Actually, it is a sub-group. All the economically well to do blacks have moved out. In some ways, the improvement in economics and status for many blacks over the last forty years or so has made the inner city problem worse, with the outward migration of the middle class and upper class blacks, leaving only those unable to escape and those who prefer to live there, such as the gang members. Where I live, outside a small Southern city in Florida, blacks own guns just as often as whites…they are just not committing crimes or killing people with them like the inner city gangs. And they are just as afraid of going into these inner city areas as us whites. So I say, yes…blame the sub-group and skip the excuses. The ones who worked their way out of the ghetto often had just as many handicaps as the ones causing the problems. The “victim mentality” doesn’t help…it only hurts and holds back.

    • “I don’t blame them as a group.”

      And you shouldn’t blame anyone “as a group.” But to imply that blacks “just can’t help themselves,” and that “with their history, who could expect any better” is the epitome of what Michael Gerson called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

  3. The explosive rise of violence in Democrat-controlled urban areas is a direct result of law enforcement realizing the Department of Justice under the Obama administration considered LE the problem and not the criminals perpetrating it.

    Realizing there is *no one* watching their six, beat cops now avoid contact with criminals, and the thugs can sense this…

  4. The most effective thing Trump can do to reduce violent crime in the worst of the inner cities is to direct the US attorneys responsible for them to prosecute gang members for gun crimes under federal law. The states should be doing this for themselves but aren’t and won’t. Sometimes, the reason is political. In Chicago’s case, it’s also financial. Violent criminals are turned back out on the street because Illinois can’t afford to keep them in prison.

  5. The murder and crime rate continue to decline outside of major metropolitan areas. It is only in Cities under long term Democratic Party control where murder is on the rise. It isn’t guns, nor is it gangs per se. It is the Ferguson Effect. When the police fear the Justice Department they don’t police the ghetto giving the gangs free reign.

    Note to all you drug legalizers. Murder and violent crime are up in Denver because of, not despite legalization. The police no longer have a tool to lock the bangers up. Legalization may keep muddle class and rich kids out of the legal system but they aren’t the ones leaving bodies around.

    • Opioids and meth are still very much illegal in Denver, and provide an adequate basic on which to lock up gang types and addicts. I don’t advocate weed as a health food but it simply isn’t in the same universe as meth, fentanyl, or non-prescribed hydromorphone (the last two apparently Prince’s problem).

    • Study history, specifically Prohibition. It’s the old, simple “follow the money” dictum. Petty crime has always existed in poor neighborhoods. But it was “petty”, since there wasn’t much money in it. The War on Drugs provides the money that has resulted in “thug culture” becoming “cool”. Also study the history of people using mind altering substances. It predates civilization. We’ve been doing it forever. Better yet, while condemning someone else’s choice of mind altering substances, have a couple of cups of coffee or a couple of beers or a good cocktail, maybe while smoking a cigarette. We’ve taken something that should be a medical /psychological problem, drug abuse and addiction, and made it a legal problem, with the unintended effect of funding crime and distorting law enforcement. And while studying, look up Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs in 2001. …I just reread what I wrote and it’s hard to tell I’m a redneck, country boy. But like my friend Jesse the farmer says, it ain’t nobody’s business … especially the government’s, unless I’m hurting someone else, what I drink, smoke, toke, or otherwise decide to ingest into my own body.

  6. “Indeed, many of the cities experiencing sharp increases in homicides over the last several years have intensified gun control and background checks for firearms purchasers. Case in point: Illinois.”

    This misinformation really needs to stop. Yes, Illinois is not the most gun friendly state. Yes, Chicago once had extremely strict gun laws. But over the last several years, Illinois’s gun control laws have loosened slightly, and Chicago’s are almost completely gone.

    • “Illinois’s gun control laws have loosened slightly, and Chicago’s are almost completely gone.”

      I don’t know where you’re from, but you can’t be living in Chicago. “Assault weapons” ban (prohibiting even a threaded 10/22), FOID cards, concealed carry technically allowed but prohibited basically everywhere, no gun ranges in the city, ammo tax…
      Yes, there are places with worse laws, but I certainly would not describe Chicago’s unconstitutional gun laws as “almost completely gone.”

      • It is beyond debate that the gun laws in Illinois and Chicago have loosened over the last several years – not intensified as asserted in the post. And most of the laws of which you complain – and I do to – are Illinois and Cook County laws. Chicago is down to a AWB that duplicates Cook County’s and its gun store/gun range regulations which the Seventh Circuit just struck down.

    • JeffR- You can’t understand what happened in Illinois since state Rep. Brandon Phelps from Harrisburg sponsored the first version of his concealed carry bill which failed in May 2011, until you understand Illinois geography. Harrisburg is thirty miles from Kentucky in the southern tip of the state. That’s “southern” as in, “the South lost the War between the States.” Get it now?

      Most NRA members from Illinois live in all-white small towns south of Joliet.
      Illinois’ carry bill has criminal penalties for ALL violations of gun-free zones, so the cop who sees you print in Starbucks can arrest you, which means you can be executed at will because police have an excuse to use force to make the arrest.

      Phelps carry bill has a public transport ban, so working class black people in dangerous neighborhoods cannot carry on a CTA bus or El train on their way to work. The rednecks who vote for Brandon Phelps in southern IL don’t care about blacks in Chicago, but NRA uses blacks like Otis McDonald as face men for their lawsuits.

      What happened in Illinois’ 2013 carry bill is that the white racist hicks from southern IL like Brandon Phelps and the moonshiners who vote for him used Otis and blacks from Chicago like Shawn Gowder and Rhonda Ezell as plaintiffs for their lawsuits, then sold them out afterwards.

      • Since I am from one of those small, mostly white towns in Central Illinois but have lived and worked in Chicago for the last 17 years, I have a pretty good grasp on how Illinois geography and politics have impacted our gun control laws. If I still lived downstate, I would probably be pretty happy with the current state of affairs. No AWB. No ammo tax. Gun ranges within a reasonable driving distance. Concealed carry is feasible since you do not have prohibited places all over the place, and you do not have to worry about public transportation. Chicago and Cook County? Not so great, but I do not place any of the blame on Phelps or downstate voters. Phelps presented a broad and inexpensive concealed carry law with statewide preemption, but the Chicago pols pushed and pushed until they got their local AWBs, increased fees, increased training, and the prohibited places that they cared about. If anyone deserves the label of racist when it comes to the current state of gun control in Illinois and Chicago, it is the politicians in Chicago who made concealed carry too expensive and impractical for their local constituents.

        • Rudd- “If I still lived downstate, I would probably be pretty happy with the current state of affairs.” “Concealed carry is feasible since you do not have prohibited places all over the place, and you do not have to worry about public transportation.”

          Correct, and I would place a bet with you that 95% of the people who give money to local orgs like ISRA (IL state rifle association, the state tumor of NRA) resemble Richard Pearson.

          Fifteen years ago, Pearson was telling the grassroots people, “it’s not the right time” (to advance concealed carry) Pearson played a small part in conning Otis McDonald to sign on to the lawsuit against the city of Chicago handgun ban, and now he thinks it was his idea all along.

          In real life, Pearson is an insurance salesman in the washed out burg of Chatsworth. He actually tells his members, “there is no Duty to Inform in Illinois’ carry bill, it’s only if the officer asks”!! Pearson is a clown that could not punch his way out of a paper bag, and the only reason he has a job is that most ISRA member are more stupid than he is. He is the perfect poster boy for the downstate rubes.

          “If anyone deserves the label of racist when it comes to the current state of gun control in Illinois and Chicago, it is the politicians in Chicago who made concealed carry too expensive and impractical for their local constituents.”

          The only state Reps. that opposed the Duty to Inform that NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde placed in Phelps 2013 carry bill were Chicago area Black Caucus Reps. LaShawn Ford, Chris Welch, and Will Davis.

          They wanted Phelps to take DTI OUT of his “NRA backed” bill, and Phelps argued with them to keep DTI IN his bill. Anybody can smell a rat in this deal, and in this case the name of the rat is Todd Vandermyde.

          Vandermyde cut a deal with the police unions, and was able to sell out Otis McDonald and blacks in Chicago because of white racist hicks like the Richard Pearson fans at ISRA, with an honorable mention to Valinda Rowe and the southern IL crowd at Illinois Carry. Valinda lives maybe thirty miles away from Phelps in Harrisburg, he’s her state Rep. That’s what happened in Illinois.

  7. The number of badge-worshipping Tories on this site is mind-boggling. The police are the standing army the founders warned us about, evidenced by their willingness to enforce all the tyranny (including gun control) that’s been foisted upon us by their political masters. If not for the willingness of our peers to don the blue uniform and the magic badge that grants special rights, gun control and all other injustices would be just the scribblings of megalomanical madmen.

    • Basically agree with you, but do concede, in the modern world, with all it’s people and moral problems, we do need police. The biggest problem is that the good officers have for too long tolerated the bad. The advent and growth in power of the Police Unions has only made it worse. The fact that we have cameras almost everywhere now is just bringing into to light. Reform is needed and shouldn’t be used as an excuse for not doing the job they signed up for and agreed to do.

      • There is nothing special about the police. You already have the right to defend your life, liberty, and property. Those are the only legitimate uses of force, and you don’t need a badge for them. If the police have any more authority than the average citizen (which they couldn’t possibly have, but that’s a whole other discussion), it can only be the authority to commit immoral acts.

        The “professional” police force in the US originated with enforcing slavery. Police weren’t needed before that, and the only reason they’re needed now is to enforce slavery. Slavery has evolved, of course – taxation, regulation, and other infringements on our liberties have made us a nation of “those who falsely believe they are free” – but policing hasn’t evolved: it its still based on the idea that some animals are more equal, and that they have the right to kidnap and kill anyone who disobeys the commandments of the state.

        The institution we call “the police” belongs in the dustbin of history. God willing, my grandchildren will hear stories of the state-sponsored gang in blue, and wonder that anyone was ever sympathetic to such an abusive institution. I’m not holding my breath though.

        *I know there are good people who are cops, who go to work every day wondering if they’ll get fired for not writing traffic tickets or not busting drug users. I absolutely respect what these individuals are trying to do, but that doesn’t change the fact that they add an institution are imagined by the general public to have the authority to kidnap and kill peaceful people – living under that alone keeps us from being free.

    • Salty- “The number of badge-worshipping Tories on this site is mind-boggling. The police are the standing army the founders warned us about…”

      True statement, but don’t expect the cowards to understand your rational thoughts. Most of the losers want to have a piece of plastic in their wallets that makes them junior policemen, not bear arms as free citizens.

      When Illinois’ concealed carry bill first came up for a vote and failed in May 2011, state Rep. Brandon Phelps had immediate Duty to Inform with criminal penalites in his bill just like Ohio, supplied by NRA state lobbyist Todd Vandermyde.

      When Vandermyde cut the deal in spring of 2011 with the anti-gun IL Chiefs of Police to place DTI in the “good” “NRA backed” bill, Tim McCarthy of Orland Park was president of the IL Chiefs. That’s the same Tim McCarthy who was a Secret Service agent when President Reagan was shot, and the same Tim McCarthy who promotes gun control with Jim & Sarah Brady.

      NRA, Inc., gun control orgs like the Bradys, and police unions are all on the same side: against you and promoting legalized murder where police criminals can execute armed citizens at will, with legal cover.

  8. Isn’t the homicide rate sort of like the stock market? It has its ups and downs. Police presence, national attitude, and politics just bump it one direction or the other slightly. That community needs to get to the cause of the problem. 1st, economics. Solution: more capitalism, less free shit, less restrictions on drugs. And 2nd, lack of universal set of morals in the communities. Solution: capitalism, less free shit, stop being slaves to the state, dignity, liberty, leadership.

  9. How many of these shooting were done by legal guns in the hands of legal adult gun holders? We all know the answer is very few of them. The people that do these things will continue to do so whether or not they have a legally purchased firearm and are adult that is not otherwise restricted from firearm ownership.
    Since it is illegal for most anyone to carry(it is very hard to get a ccw), only the worst of the worst have firearms at ready.

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