More guns, less crime

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The Sacramento County Sheriff’s department is feeling the resource strain of the State’s budget woes. Currently, there are six patrol cars available to service all unincorporated Sacramento County, and planned budget cuts threaten to keep it that way. 

The fact that the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff’s Association just launched a public safety awareness campaign, which does not even broach the subject of responsible gun ownership and training, much less encourage it, shows a dissonance between the aims of state law enforcement officials and their constitutional function. After all, the evidence in support of the crime-reducing effects that liberal “open carry” and “concealed carry” statutes provide is hard to ignore

Perhaps these guys have been watching too much cable news. 

The local news stories appear on a weekly basis: “Man deters crime with defensive gun use.” However, stories such as these are completely ignored by national TV news media. Indeed, when criminal incidents involving guns are trumpeted on the evening news, any heroic acts by citizens to disarm and/or apprehend assailants with firearms of their own usually go unmentioned or are trivialized as ancillary to the “real story.” 

A dramatic example of one such event (which didn’t get national air-time) involved the murder of a Phoenix police officer while he was pursuing a possible stolen vehicle. After turning a corner in his police cruiser to find two men standing beside the truck he was tailing with guns drawn, Officer Marc Atkinson was ambushed by a hail of gunfire.  A passerby, Rory Vertigan, who witnessed the pursuit and subsequent  murder, was immediately fired upon. What these outlaws didn’t know was that the would-be bystander was in possession of 9mm pistol. 

Vertigan returned fire, injuring one of the men while the other escaped to hide in a nearby business.  Rory tackled and successfully detained the wounded assailant until police arrived. The other man was found and arrested shortly after. The police also credited Vertigan with disabling the assailants’ vehicle so they could not escape across the border. Thanks to Vertigan’s bravery, no more blood was shed that day. 

“It’s almost like the media moguls have a secret they don’t want us to know,” wrote Robert A Waters in an article for the Sierra Times. “An exciting, heart-wrenching story such as this, breaking even as the evening news shows went on the air, would seem a natural,” wrote Waters, “But several things worked against it.” He expounded: 

     First, Rory Vertigan was a member of the National Rifle Association and a strong advocate for gun rights. Second, a firearm was used to neutralize a murderous gang and lead to the capture of its members, something that seems to be taboo for the national press. Finally, a story such as this would have shown the world why many Americans choose to carry guns, and why our founding Fathers placed that right in the Constitution.

This is just one example of the the 4,109 justified defensive gun use instances that occurs on average every day across the US, according to a National Institute of Justice Study.  But it’s not just anecdotal evidence saying more guns equals less crimes.  There is enough statistical data to support such claims.  

“President Obama surely didn’t intend it, but he deserves some credit for last year’s 7.4 percent drop in murder rates,” writes John Lott, expert on guns and crime and professor at University of Chicago Law School. Lott offers this simple, yet educated hypothesis for the unexpected reduction in violent crime:  Obama’s election caused gun sales to soar, and crime rates to plummet. 

It’s undeniable that gun sales increased dramatically in the run up to Obama’s election and continued to climb throughout 2009 according to FBI statistics on background checks. Lott points to evidence of a direct proportional relationship between rising gun ownership and a decrease in crime by recalling that the last time murder rates dropped this dramatically was in 1999, a similarly active time for gun buying. After Columbine, “people such as Elena Kagan serving as Mr. Clinton’s deputy domestic policy adviser were pushing hard for more gun control,” writes Lott.  “Americans were worried that more gun bans were coming. And in response gun sales soared.” 

Analyzing FBI crime statistics data from 1977 to 1993, Lott found that “By adopting shall-issue [concealed carry permit] laws, states reduced murders by 8.5 percent, rapes by 5 percent, aggravated assaults by 7 percent and robbery by 3 percent.” If those states that did not permit concealed handguns in 1992 had permitted them back then, Lott says, “citizens might have been spared approximately 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes, 60,000 aggravated assaults and 12,000 robberies.” 

His conclusion in that study: 1) Victims who have the ability to defend themselves offer a legitimate deterrence threat and 2) “Criminals…respond rationally to deterrence threats.” 

More recently, residents of the District of Columbia and Chicago have witnessed this phenomenon firsthand. In a June 8 post to biggovernment.com, Lott writes: 

     “After the ban went into effect in both cities, murder rates rose dramatically. After the Supreme Court threw out DC’s ban and gunlock laws in 2008, the District’s murder rates plunged by 25 percent in 2009. Indeed, my research in the just released third edition of More Guns, Less Crime shows that every place in the world that we have crime data for has seen murder rates climb when guns were banned.”

But, don’t think the California Assembly is making it any easier for law abiding Californians to deter violent crime outside their homes. The Committee on Public Safety recently passed AB 1934, a measure which threatens to criminalize the open carrying of unloaded hand guns in public places (it is already against California law to openly carry a loaded firearm). 

Open carry advocates maintain that such a move would altogether deprive them of their Second Amendment right (some say duty) to posses a firearm, as Concealed Carry permits are notoriously difficult to acquire in the state.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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