When homicides and violent crimes spiked across the country in 2020, gun control activists and anti-gun politicians were quick to pin the blame on the record-setting pace of gun sales. We were told ad nauseam that the “easy availability of guns” was the primary reason why cities across the country saw a rise in violence; ignoring things like the closing of courts and release of many inmates because of the COVID pandemic or the widespread unrest and riots sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Three years later and guns are just as easy to get as they were in 2020, but the crime spike has not continued. In fact, as we’ve been reporting for several months, it looks like 2023 will go down as the year with the biggest one-year decline in the national homicide rate. How are anti-gunners reacting or responding to that news? Well, some of them, like Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, are trying to credit the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act for the stunning drop in homicides, while others are simply choosing to ignore the good news so they can keep on fearmongering.
The editorial board of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is among the latter, proclaiming that the start of the 2024 legislative session provides new ways to “weaken” the state’s gun laws. The editors point to the horrific killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 as the main reason for lawmakers to ban so-called assault weapons and “large capacity” magazines, but they never once mention the fact that violent crime rates are dropping even as the legislature has repealed some of its most onerous anti-gun statutes and strengthened the Second Amendment’s protections.
Last April, the Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis kowtowed to the NRA by repealing an older law that required a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
New legislation this year would repeal the post-Parkland waiting period as to rifles and shotguns (SB 1124) and to waive it altogether (HB 17) if the required background check comes back favorable sooner than required. That bill would also allow the sale if the check isn’t completed within three days, excluding weekends and legal holidays. HB 1223 would let 18-year-olds buy rifles and shotguns again.
Topping the NRA wish list is an open-carry bill (HB 1619) to allow people to shoulder their AR-15s or carry any other weapon almost everywhere in public, including on school grounds and inside polling places and athletic events. It would allow legislators, like its sponsor, Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Riverview, to carry weapons anywhere on the Capitol premises, where they’re now allowed only for law enforcement. It would repeal the ban on weapons on college campuses. This is insanity.
Gun control advocates have been wringing their hands over every bit of good gun-related legislation in Florida since the 1980s, when the state adopted “shall issue” concealed carry over the objections of activists who predicted the state would turn into an East Coast version of the Wild West. Instead, homicide and overall violent crime rates have declined by about 50 percent since the “shall issue” bill was enshrined into law, and in the first full year of permitless carry most of the state’s biggest cities saw their murder rates drop.
According to crime analyst Jeff Asher’s collected data, Jacksonville recorded a 6 percent decline in homicides in 2023, while Orlando’s dropped by 22 percent. In Tampa murders fell by 29 percent, while Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says the 31 homicides recorded in the city were the fewest recorded since the end of World War II.
“Miami started recording homicides in 1947. If you were to do a public records request for all of our homicides, the first year would be 1947. And in that year, we had 32 homicides. Today, I can report that in 2023, we ended the year with 31 homicides. Now obviously that’s 31 too many, we’d love to have a year where we end with zero. And that will always be the goal,” he said Wednesday when announcing last year’s homicide rate.
The mayor said 2023 was quite possibly the lowest year forin recorded history.
“This is contrasted with what many of you remember in the 1980s, where I think in the year 1980, we had over 200 homicides, I think we had about 220 in 1980, which means that for every three days, there was a homicide in two out of those three days. If you want to just compare it to last year, which is a fair basis for comparison, we saw a 38% reduction year over year so we reduced our homicides by 38%. From last year, where we had 52 this year where we had 31,” he said.
Homicides weren’t the only category of violent crime that saw a big drop. Suarez says there was also a 34 percent decline in non-fatal shootings, as well as a 10 percent reduction in reported robberies.
If the trends had gone the other way, the Sun-Sentinel editors would have pointed to them as evidence of the need for more restrictions on lawful gun owners. Since the data doesn’t match up with their preferred narrative, they chose instead to turn a blind eye to the incredibly good news. It’s an incredibly dishonest approach, especially for journalists, but it’s standard operating procedure for anti-gunners. When crime increases, it must be because we don’t have enough gun laws on the books. When crime goes down after gun control laws are repealed, then it’s either a “complicated subject” or, as we’ve seen with the Sun Sentinel editors, not worth mentioning at all