Crime stats in Asheville, NC confound gun control arguments

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Asheville, North Carolina isn’t the kind of place we talk a whole lot about. While it’s far from a small town, it’s also not exactly a hotbed of Second Amendment news stories for us to talk about either.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, no news is good news.

However, a recent report about violent crime in Asheville brings up an interesting tidbit.

The city’s violent crime has climbed to nearly double that of the national average, rising 31% in five years, according to recent police data that also showed a positive trend in one area, a reduction in gun crime.

Police Chief David Zack said the local 2020 violent crime rate of 805 per 100,000 people is on the higher end of a rising trend in the nation’s cities — with more violent crime per capita in Asheville than New York and Wilmington but less than Chicago, Charlotte and Fayetteville.

Zack, who came from a Western New York department, took office in 2020 pointed at what he said was Asheville’s strikingly high gun violence numbers.

Those included 495 gun discharge calls in 2017, 395 in 2018, 522 in 2019 and 652 in 2020. In 2021, that number dropped to 547.

In another set of numbers Zack said showed positive change, there were 31 gunshot victims last year. That was the lowest from 2017-2021 which saw a high of 45 people shot in 2020.

In other words, while violent crime went up, so-called gun crime dropped.

Perhaps I should mention that North Carolina didn’t enact any new gun control laws during that timeframe that could account for this shift.

It also mirrors the recent experiences of law enforcement in San Jose, which has seen three murders this year, but none of which involved a firearm.

What is happening in Asheville is really rather interesting, so much so that I’m curious how many other communities saw a similar change.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s good that violent crime is going up. That’s far from a good thing, regardless of the weapons used. However, if it’s still going up even with “gun crime” dropping, it’s a data point indicating that the problem isn’t because of guns.

And that’s an important point.

However, because other forms of violent crime are increasing, I can’t help but think of just how important the right to keep and bear arms actually is for law-abiding folks in Asheville.

Weapons other than guns tend to favor bigger, stronger, and/or more aggressive people. Trying to defend yourself from a knife-wielding attacker requires your own strength, speed, and training. Those are things that many people can’t help but lack to some degree.

In other words, a world without guns isn’t the Utopia some believe. It’s a world where might makes right, one where criminals can do as they wish and many Americans would be powerless to stop them.

If the bad guys aren’t using guns anymore, that’s good news for us, but only if you’re carrying a firearm and have the training to know how and when to use it.

And, interestingly enough, it doesn’t apparently require gun control for bad guys to stop carrying guns, as Asheville’s data seems to suggest.

This is something we need to keep in mind as we push forward and are forced to deal with more and more demands for gun control as if that’s the only possible way we can make things better. It seems clear that even without guns, criminals can do a whole lot of bad things to good people.

So maybe it’s time to stop with that nonsense and start recognizing that guns allow others to step up and protect themselves.