Do More Guns Equal More Gun Violence?
One of the most unfortunate consequences of the Covid-19 Pandemic was a significant upsurge in violent crime. At least this is what has been claimed by the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ) headed by Thomas Abt and covered in a report that you can read right here. In 2020, according to this report, homicides were up 36% in 28 major cities, an increase led by a spectacular rise in shootings and gun homicides, with gun murders up 55% in Chicago and 39% in New York.
Has this narrative made its way into the GVP community? Of course it has. And the reason that the crime increase is now a topic of daily GVP discussion is because it happens to have occurred at the same time there was an unprecedented increase in the sale of guns. So, for example, more than 2 million guns were sold in March 2020, whereas roughly half that many were sold in March of the previous year.
This kind of year-to-year increase in gun sales has declined slightly in 2021, but not by all that much. Handgun and long gun sales in March 2021 were still 1,700,000, and that’s not chopped liver even in my book.
So, if you want to believe that all those guns being bought out there is somehow responsible for the increase in crime since the start of the Pandemic, particularly violent crime, i.e., murders and aggravated assaults, you go right ahead. After all, you now have all this ‘evidence-based’ data from the research done by a group of experts at the NCCCJ.
And if you want some more ‘proof’ on the connection between increased gun sales and increased violent crime, you can always consult the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) which basically is saying the same thing.
That being said, how do you explain a government report from the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, which says that violent crimes actually dropped from 2 million in 2020 to 1.6 million in 2020, and that over the same two-year period, the number of people who were victims of gun crimes declined by nearly 30 percent?
You don’t. You ignore it.
Except thanks to our friend, the hated and reviled John Lott, you can download and read the report right here.
Of course, if John Lott put this report out there, it must be a fake, right? After all, we know that anything John Lott says is just a big, fat lie, right?
I have been booted off of more than one GVP Facebook page and thrown out of multiple GVP online groups for saying positive things about John Lott’s research, but I don’t care. My self-appointed task, as I see it, is to try and figure out what’s true about gun violence, and not what a bunch of people who might otherwise send me a donation may want to hear.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Galileo sitting in a tower at Arcetri outside of Florence thanks to the Inquisition putting me under house arrest. I can leave my house any time I want and drive down to the corner to pick up the Chinese food or maybe get a ‘regular’ and a corn muffin at the local Dunks.
So, here’s what I know about the increase in violent crime during the Pandemic and the surge in gun sales during the same period of time. Coincidence? Absolutely. Cause and effect? WTFK?
In 2019, the ATF traced 354,264 guns, of which 3.3% were picked up in instances of aggravated assault. In 2020, the ATF traced 393,212 guns, of which 4.1% were guns picked up by cops investigating aggravated assaults.
That’s some big increase. Yea, right. Some big increase.
Want to know why ATF conducts 25% of all gun traces every year? It’s called ‘illegal possession of a gun.’ In 2019, this category accounted for 87,986 traced guns. In 2020, the number was 89,905, an increase of 2.2 percent.
Another big increase in crime guns floating around during the Pandemic year.
I happen to disagree with Lott about his claims that more guns owned and carried by civilians is a way to reduce crime. You can download and read my critique right here.
Engaging in an academic exchange of views is one thing, relying on a report whose data is at variance with the facts in order to create an advocacy argument is something else.
My good friends in the GVP need to be a bit more careful with what they want to think and believe.