Yes, gun violence is way down... but not everywhere

Leaving Islamic terrorism aside for the moment, shootings of the domestic variety continue to fascinate the media and are used as fodder for gun control arguments on a daily basis. (Unless, of course, it’s a gang shooting such as the mayhem at Bunny Friend Park, in which case nobody talks about it.) To listen to these endless looping stories, one would think that gun violence is at “epidemic” levels (thanks New York Daily News!) and only getting worse.

The reality, of course, is very much the opposite. With a few admittedly important exceptions, gun violence has been steadily declining in the country for the better part of two decades and that’s not a blip on the radar. The Washington Post explains. (Some emphasis added)

Premeditated mass shootings in public places are happening more often, some researchers say, plunging towns and cities into grief and riveting the attention of a horrified nation. In general, though, fewer Americans are dying as a result of gun violence — a shift that began about two decades ago…

In 1993, there were seven homicides by firearm for every 100,000 Americans, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2013, that figure had fallen by nearly half, to 3.6 — a total of 11,208 firearm homicides. The number of victims of crimes involving guns that did not result in death (such as robberies) declined even more precipitously, from 725 per 100,000 people in 1993 to 175 in 2013.

So overall, the rate of gun violence of all sorts has been falling since some of our readers were in diapers. The reasons cited included an expanded number of police with continually improving technology and best practices for tracking, identifying and capturing criminals. A better economy (at times) with more jobs and a healthier population also contribute to the decrease.

But in recent years that trend has reversed in a few places, all of which are large urban centers. Murders and assaults are actually on the rise again in New York, Baltimore, St. Lois, Chicago and Los Angeles. Call it the Ferguson Effect or anything else you like, but the numbers speak for themselves. And in some of these cities – Los Angeles in particular – the crime rates may be even worse than we’re being told.

LAPD misclassified more than 25,000 serious crimes as minor (LA Times)

Poor training, an error-prone records system and widespread confusion among Los Angeles police led to thousands of serious crimes being omitted from the city’s tally of violence over the past seven years, an audit by the department’s independent watchdog found.

In the report, which was released Friday, Inspector General Alex Bustamante estimated the LAPD misclassified more than 25,000 aggravated assaults as minor incidents from 2008 to 2014.

The errors meant the number of serious attacks would have been 36% higher than what the LAPD reported during that time, the audit found. Aggravated assaults are included in the department’s official count of crime, while the less-serious incidents are not counted.

The LAPD’s internal watchdogs may want to attribute these findings to ineffective record keeping, a lack of training or confusion, but you’ll pardon me if I’m more than a bit skeptical. Anyone who knows and has spoken to cops who work the beat in major cities is probably already aware of how the wind blows. Mayors like to see falling crime statistics. It’s a sure fire way to garner some good headlines heading into an election and improves their chances of staying in office. “See how my policies are keeping you safe” is a golden ticket in municipal politics and elected leaders keep continual pressure on their police departments to produce results in the form of crime numbers going down. Sure, they’d love it if there was really less crime, but they’ll take a set of cooked books in a pinch as long as the papers will print the statistics.

We have a gun problem and a crime problem, but it’s centered in the cities for the most part. And it’s a problem with illegal guns in the vast, vast majority of cases. It’s also a gang problem. But nobody wants to talk about gangs or the lack of sufficient police resources to get the illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals. It just doesn’t fit the narrative. Democrats and liberals would much prefer solving the “problem” of too many law abiding people who actually follow the rules and pass background checks having guns. Talking about gang violence brings in all manner of unpleasant subjects which they’d rather not deal with.