Homicides Are Plunging in this Permitless Carry City

Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP

According to crime analyst Jeff Asher, homicides are continuing to decline in most American cities this year; down about 18% in major cities from this time last year. 

One city in particular is doing extraordinarily well in driving down its homicide rate: Jacksonville, Florida. Last year the city had 158 murders, down about 6% compared to 2022. That was already a good sign, but this year Jacksonville is on pace for the fewest murders in well over a decade. Through the end of June, the city has recorded 46 homicides; an incredible 34% decrease from the city's homicide rate in early July last year. 

Given that this is Florida we're talking about, gun control advocates can't credit the addition of any new state-level restrictions for the steep reduction in the murder rate. 

Jean Francis of Moms Demand Action said it is still too early to say what has been different this year but noted a similar drop in killings across the nation thus far.

"More resources to law enforcement, a lower jobless rate and community-wide awareness of the issue may all be factors," she said. "Although I do not have statistics or evidence, it seems that more perpetrators are being arrested and convicted quickly. In addition to good policing, this may indicate that efforts of groups like MAD DADS and Quench the Violence to 'end the silence' may be contributing factors."

What about Florida's permitless carry law? Gun control groups like Moms Demand Action railed against the permitless carry bill signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year, predicting it would lead to more violent crime and homicides. Instead, Jacksonville's on pace for the fewest homicides in well over a decade. Still, anti-gun activists like Francis are still relying on their stale talking points to call for new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. 

"States that have lax gun safety laws have the highest incidence of gun violence, and Florida is moving in that direction," she said. "Strengthening the secure storage law will decrease gun theft and gun trafficking, deter gun suicide and unintentional shootings. Leave the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act intact; in fact, there is room to improve it. Watering it down and laws like permitless carry just support and entice criminals and make law enforcement's job riskier. They do not promote responsible gun ownership or make the community safer."

Except that the Jacksonville community is safer than it was before permitless carry took effect. And it's not just Jacksonville. Miami saw the fewest homicides since at least 1947 last year (the first year that permitless carry was in effect), and this year the larger Miami-Dade area has seen murders plunge by more than 30%.

Now, I'm not claiming that permitless carry is the reason for the drop in homicides in cities like Miami and Jacksonville. But it's pretty evident that permitless carry did not lead to an eruption of violence as the anti-gunners predicted. Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters gives much of the credit for the safer streets to law enforcement's focus on "shooters" and repeat offenders. 

“We started doing this Violence Reduction Strategy in 2016, and I’ve always said this is not an overnight thing, it’s not a one-year thing. This is something that takes time to evolve. It takes time to start turning things around if you’re doing it the right way. We’re doing that on top of 2019, we opened our Gun Crime Intelligence Center. We focused heavily on the people we know are shooters. We’ve gotten some pretty huge repeat shooters off of our streets that are now either in prison or are facing prison time. That doesn’t mean other shooters aren’t going to rise up, but at the same time we’re hyper-focused on dealing with those guys who shoot pretty consistently.”

“There was a huge blowback for some years where people were discouraged against proactive policing and proactive patrols. But a patrol officer’s job is not just answering calls for service. A patrol officer’s job is about going out, looking for those that are in our community to do others harm. I’ve put an emphasis on us continuing to do that, no matter how tough the circumstances. It’s our responsibility.”

“On top of that, [we’re] really being focused on drugs in our community. Really being focused on those shooters that have put themselves on the radar because of the things they’ve done. I think [it's] a combination of all those things and the cooperation from our community. I think people have seen that regardless of whether I ran for office as a Republican or a Democrat or whatever you are, my goal in this city is to make this city as safe as possible for everyone that lives here. I think people are starting to realize that’s what I care about. Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, we’re all Americans, we’re all Jacksonvillians. We all deserve the right to live together in peace and not, not, be held under the thumb of people that want to hurt and victimize others.”

Yes, and we have the right to defend ourselves from those who want to hurt and victimize others as well. Florida does a pretty good job of protecting that right (though there's still room for improvement), and it seems to be paying off. Homicides are plummeting, prolific offenders are facing the consequences of their action, and gun control advocates have been proven wrong once again.