“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.