This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 30, 2016:
As violent crime in the U.S. continues to drop, more and more theories surface that try to explain away the phenomenon while studiously avoiding the real reason. What isn’t in question is how much violent crime has dropped. According to the FBI, incidents of violent crime in 1994 were 713 per 100,000 population. Ten years later it was 463 per 100,000, and by 2012 it had dropped further, to 387 per 100,000.
First, it was the number of police officers that increased considerably during the decade of the 1990s. Fedgov spent $30 billion beefing up state and local law enforcement, building new prisons and installing crime prevention programs. It turned out to be a colossal federal boondoggle.
Next, it was all those criminals taken off the streets (see above). It was the War on Drugs that succeeded in turning the United States into the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world.
Third, it was abortion that kept potential criminals from even being born. (Doubt this? See Yale study from 2001 below).
Fourth, an aging population isn’t as likely to be “active” in criminal activities.
Fifth, reduced lead exposure. (See Princeton study, sourced below).
The real reason was uncovered by John Lott in his monumental More Guns, Less Crime, first published in 1998 and then updated in 2000 and again in 2010. Based on a county-by-county study of 13 different types of gun laws and their impact on crime, Lott concluded, increasingly persuasively, that the mere presence of an armed citizen was directly correlated to less crime.
This generated noisy pushback from anti-gunners until 2007, when two college professors had their study of the matter published by Harvard University, titled “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?” Their answer: NO:
Whether gun availability is viewed as a cause or as a mere coincidence, the long term macrocosmic evidence is that gun ownership, spread widely throughout societies, consistently correlates with stable or declining murder rates….
The data consistently show that … more guns equal less crime. (emphasis in original)
When the New York Times tried to discern why gun sales are going through the roof, they learned to their dismay that it was largely due to the world’s greatest gun salesman, Barack Obama:
Fear of gun-buying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks.
This revelation was highly annoying to the Times, which pointed out the conundrum facing anti-gunners: “Th[is] dynamic shows a Catch-22 for gun control proponents: pushing for new restrictions can lead to an influx of new guns.” This, of course, is exactly the opposite of the intended result, made clear years ago when Senator Diane Feinstein (above) said: “If I could have banned them all – ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn in your guns’ – I would have!”
Those soaring gun sales are having some unintended consequences: Smith & Wesson was forced to admit that it simply couldn’t keep up with the demand for its products, revising its sales projection for the second quarter of 2016 by 16 percent. The NRA announced that four times as many seniors are now taking gun training classes from its instructors as they were just five years ago. And an increasing number of them are women.
On a recent Monday, some senior women at the Austintown Senior Center located in Austintown, Ohio, not far from Youngstown, quit their knitting and painting, got on a bus, and headed off to the nearby American Indoor Shooting Range to hone their shooting skills. Among them was a first-timer, Phyllis Engler, who recently retired as a physical education teacher. She suffers from arthritis: “I have arthritis in my shoulder so it was hard holding [the pistol] out, but I think with practice I’ll be fine.” Then she added: “They better not mess with the people of Austintown!”
This, of course, is exactly what criminals don’t want to hear. A survey of convicted criminals conducted by two University of Massachusetts professors discovered that 81 percent of those looking for an opportunity will determine in advance if that target is armed. Seventy-four percent avoided homes that were occupied for fear of being shot by someone like Engler. Fifty-seven percent said they feared armed citizens more than they feared the police. Forty percent of them said they decided against committing a crime because they feared their target was armed. A third of those surveyed said they had been scared off during the commission of a crime, or shot at or wounded or captured by an armed citizen.
Despite all the theories about why violent crime has dropped so much over the last 20 years, the real reason is the simplest one of all: criminals don’t want to be shot!
The Wall Street Journal: More Seniors, Fearing Crime, Flock to Shooting Ranges
The New York Times: Gun Sales Soar After Obama Calls for New Restrictions
Yale University study: The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime
The Princeton University study: When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment
John Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime
Convicted criminal survey results: Criminals Fear Armed Citizens more than they do the Police