About that "GIANT MURDER WAVE" in Georgia

Police work the scene of a fatal dog attack Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Atlanta. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Donald Trump has every right and plenty of valid reasons to criticize Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for the laundry list of indictments recently handed down, but Atlanta’s crime rate isn’t one of them.

On Truth Social, Trump blasted Willis for “allowing murder and violent crime to massively escalate”, but there’s one big problem with his assertion: both violent crime and homicides are actually trending down in Atlanta.

According to the latest crime statistics from the Atlanta Police Department, year-to-date homicides are down 25% through August 12th compared to the same point in time last year. Not only that, reported rapes have declined by 55%, aggravated assaults have fallen by 21%, and robberies have dropped by 19%. The Atlanta police statistics indicate that crimes against persons are down 23% year-to-date, though there’s been a 9% increase in property crimes in the city.

The rise in property crimes can be attributed to two categories: shoplifting and thefts of motor vehicles. There’s been a 16% increase in reported shoplifting incidents, but the number of stolen vehicles has absolutely exploded. This time last year the APD had reported 1,785 thefts of motor vehicles, but so far this year there’ve been more than 3,000 reports; a whopping 69% increase.

This is bad news for Trump’s talking points, but it’s also proof that the gun control lobby is talking nonsense when it comes to things like permitless carry, which was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp last April. We now have a full year’s worth of data from the state’s largest city to examine, and the claims of the anti-gunners that the new law would lead to disastrous consequences are now in tatters.

At a press conference featuring some state Democratic lawmakers before the governor signed the bill, state Sen. Donzella James of College Park called Kemp’s support of the legislation a campaign tactic.

“Who is he serving with this bill?” James said. “Some say he’s serving himself by pandering to special interest groups and the far-right pro-Trump base.”

And some Democrats said removing the licensing requirement could work in their favor in November.

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath told canvassers at a Gwinnett County park who were preparing to go door-to-door to promote her campaign that Republican-backed “permitless carry” legislation will help motivate more Democrats to vote. McBath, whose teenage son Jordan Davis was murdered in 2012 in an argument over loud music, added in an interview that Republicans are embracing the expansion at their own peril.

“Don’t be fooled into believing that the American public isn’t paying attention,” she said. “They see exactly what is happening. And they know who is in favor of protecting their families and their communities. And they know who isn’t. And they’re going to see the difference at the polls.”

McBath was wrong about the impact that the permitless carry bill would have on the 2022 elections. Kemp crushed Democrat (and gun control advocate) Stacey Abrams by more than seven points, and while Democrats picked up two seats in the state House and one in the Senate the GOP maintained sizeable majorities and control of both chambers.

If permitless carry really did motivate Democrats to head to the polls, the results are less than impressive. And not only did McBath’s predictions of a Democratic resurgence fail to materialize, Georgia hasn’t become a lawless free-for-all as a result of the law taking effect. A 25% drop in homicides is pretty remarkable, especially when we’re talking about a city the size of Atlanta. In smaller cities where there are few violent crimes to begin with even or two additional homicides can have a huge impact on the crime rate, but the number of murders in Atlanta is down significantly from 103 at this point in 2022 to 77 this year.

I don’t know how much (if any) credit Fani Willis deserves for the decline in the homicide rate, but it’s simply not true that Atlanta has seen a massive escalation in violent crime and murders. The city is generally a safer place than it was last year, though arguably less secure given the increase in retail and motor vehicle theft. I’m sure that Trump will continue to attack the Fulton County D.A. at every given opportunity, but he needs to find a better argument than blaming the non-existent rise in violent crime on her myopic focus on his alleged misdeeds.