You knew it was only a matter of time, right? Back in March, when the first stay-at-home orders were issued and Americans started flocking to gun stores, we were told by gun control advocates that there was no reason to purchase a firearm, because crime wasn’t going to go up even though cities were clearing out jails and telling officers not to make arrests for many crimes. As former ATF agent turned gun control flack David Chipman told the Washington Times just a few months ago:
“If we can imagine how horrible this crisis is … the people who hoarded the guns might decide six months from now – once they see no zombies around but they’ve run out of tuna and beef jerky – that they need the money to buy food,” Chipman said.
Well, it hasn’t been six months, but we’re already seeing a “zombie” outbreak, or at least a surge in violent crime in many American cities. What do you do if you’re a gun control advocates who just a few months ago was dismissive of the idea of civil unrest and a spike in crime? Blame all those new gun owners, of course.
The Washington Post claims two new studies show that the spike in crime followed the first surge in gun sales in the spring, which in turn must mean that those gun sales are responsible for the increase in shootings in Democrat-controlled cities around the country. I’ve already debunked one of the studies a few days ago, but let’s take a look at the second study cited by Post reporter Christopher Ingraham, which purports to document the tie between gun sales and an increase in shootings.
Led by Julia Schleimer, the team similarly found a massive increase in gun-buying during the first half of the year. They then focused on the question of whether, at the state level, those purchases are linked to an increase in gun violence.
To do that, they turned to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, an organization that maintains a real-time database of shootings by scouring news reports, police reports and public records. The analysis attempts to correct for a number of other factors that would plausibly affect rates of gun violence, such as covid-19 cases and deaths, the presence of stay-at-home orders, social distancing adherence, demographic factors and even temperature and precipitation.
In the end, they estimated, firearm violence nationally jumped nearly 8 percent from March through May because of excess gun-buying; that’s “776 additional injuries associated with purchasing spikes.” That may be an undercount: The Brookings study indicated gun sales jumped even higher in June, with potentially even greater effects on rates of gun violence.
Here are a few things the study apparently didn’t correct for: arrest rates, police reforms, the size and frequency of violent protests, and who’s actually in charge of these cities. In Farmville, Virginia, the closet town of any size to where I live, we’ve seen the same surge in gun sales that has been documented around the country, but our crime rate’s remained incredibly low. In New York City, on the other hand, shootings have increased by more than 300% compared to July of 2019. There hasn’t been a surge of new gun owners in the Big Apple, because most folks who applied back in March for their premises license in order to purchase a gun they can keep at home still haven’t received permission from the NYPD to exercise their right to keep an arm in the house.
According to the authors of the study from the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center, however, it’s those pesky Americans lawfully exercising their Second Amendment rights that are to blame.
Here’s another problem for the study’s authors: while shootings are soaring in New York City, New Jersey, Baltimore, Chicago, Portland, and other big blue cities, they’re declining in other parts of the country. Palm Beach County, Florida, for instance, has actually seen a 30% decline in homicides through the first six months of 2020. Are we really supposed to believe that there simply haven’t been enough gun sales in south Florida to impact the violent crime rate, but gun sales are responsible for the dramatic increase in homicides in New York City?
West Palm Beach saw a 67 percent decrease in the number of homicides during the first half of 2020 — three — as compared to the same period last year — nine.
City police credit the decrease in homicides not to the pandemic but rather to an increase in personnel focused on combating open-air drug sales and violent crime.
Police spokesman Sgt. David Lefont pointed to the roll out of the department’s GHOST unit — Gang-Habitual Offender Suppression Team — at the beginning of the year.
So, West Palm Beach rolls out a special unit designed to focus on the most violent offenders, and homicides decrease. In Portland, New York City, and elsewhere, police reforms have dismantled units that focus on gang violence, and shootings have soared. I know it sounds crazy, but perhaps things like de-policing in high-crime neighborhoods has far more to do with the increase in violent crime than a growing number of law-abiding gun owners.
Even the anti-gun study’s authors admit that they can’t prove that the increase in gun sales caused the spike in violent crime, but outlets like the Washington Post will gloss over that inconvenient fact in order to spout nonsense like this:
Taken together, the findings paint a particularly bleak picture of the United States in 2020. Reeling from a pandemic, an economic downturn and a national reckoning with racism and police brutality, many Americans are choosing to arm themselves in the hope, perhaps, of protecting themselves in the event that circumstances get worse.
The research suggests that at least some of the spike in gun purchases is driven by racist beliefs and attitudes among white Americans.
And while many new gun buyers are motivated by wanting to secure their safety, the research also suggests that every gun purchased is a step toward a more violent society.
Yep, you read that right. The increase in violent crime in Democrat-run cities is largely the result of racist white Americans buying up guns, according to the Washington Post, and every gun that’s sold just sends us further along our path towards a dystopian future. Never mind the fact that for decades, violent crime has been dropping as Americans purchased tens of millions of firearms and millions of us obtained their concealed carry licenses. Never mind the fact that gun ownership among non-white Americans is increasing (admittedly, in large part because of concerns over racism). Never mind any and every bit of evidence that doesn’t point to American gun owners as racist rednecks who are shooting up their cities with the new guns they just bought.
Crime is spiking for a number of reasons, but the primary one is that criminals believe they can get away breaking the law. They’ve seen the court closures and the early releases because of coronavirus concerns. They’ve seen a move away from patrolling high-crime neighborhoods. They’ve seen local politicians and community leaders call for defunding police while refusing to hold violent criminals accountable. They’ve seen their neighbors grow more distrustful of police, even as they’ve become more frightened of the emboldened criminals causing such misery in their neighborhoods.
Criminals see these things and believe, not unreasonably, that their chances of getting away with murder (or assault, or robbery) are pretty good right now. The nation’s crime spike has much more to do with blue mayors and governors than new firearm purchases, but the Washington Post and the anti-gun academics it loves to amplify will continue to place the blame on you instead of where it belongs; on the politicians that are failing to protect their cities and the criminals emboldened by that catastrophic abdication of responsibility.