No, Post-Sandy Hook Measures Aren't Responsible For Dropping Crime Rates

I still remember the absolute horror of watching the news when the story broke of a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I was sitting there, working, with my infant daughter playing on the floor beside me as I watched in utter horror. The fact that those kids were just a few years older than my little girl…yeah, it got me in the gut.

However, I also knew that the anti-gun left would use it to try and push more and more anti-gun regulation, and they did. While they lost on the national stage, they gained ground in some states.

Now, they’re crowing about all the success they’ve been having.

“There wasn’t much we could do, but a resolution seemed like a good idea,” Bono recently said. It would send a signal of disapproval to Albany and to buck up local state legislators to keep alive the fight against the SAFE Act. Bono and his fellow county commissioners talked up their resolution to their counterparts throughout northern and central New York. The idea quickly caught on. Five years later, similar measures calling for the repeal of the SAFE Act have passed in 52 of the state’s 62 county legislatures, and in almost 300 towns and villages, according to a website spearheading the movement.

But while the law continues to provoke anger through a significant swathe of upstate New York, supporters say it’s working.

Crimes with firearms declined by almost 20 percent statewide in the last three years — and overall gun deaths, which includes both homicide and suicide, have also dropped dramatically. Even though the cause and effect of the decrease is difficult to prove, Gary Pudup, a spokesman for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, gives much of the credit to the SAFE Act’s requirement that all gun sales, including those for long guns and private transactions outside of gun shops, must be subject to background checks.

What’s missing from this report is the simple fact that crime rates have been dropping  for decades. This is nothing new. They were trending downward even before the Assault Weapon Ban of 1994 was passed and simply continued downward since then.

That’s why the “cause and effect of the decrease is difficult to prove.” It’s because there’s absolutely no evidence of any connection at all.

What we have is a spurious correlation, much like the ones outlined at this site.

Frankly, the idea that the NY’s SAFE Act is actually responsible for a drop in crime is absolutely ridiculous, at least in part because so few people have complied with the law in the first place. A 2016 report indicates just 44,000 of New York’s estimated 1 million gun owners complied with the law’s registration requirement in the first place. That means it’s ridiculous to believe the hundreds of thousands of gun owners are also going to follow a law that requires an FFL transfer, especially since it may mean being busted for their noncompliance.

Every time there’s a crime drop following a gun law, anti-gun activists love to jump on it and pretend that it’s proof that gun control works. However, if the trends began before the new law, it’s not difficult to look at that and ignore their claims. In fact, it proves a more important point that the anti-gun zealots love to ignore: that addressing the root problems of violence is far more effective than trying to outlaw the tools.