The Christian Science Monitor reports that while gun sales surged across the country this year, violent crimes slid in the opposite direction:
After several years of crime rates holding relatively steady, the FBI is reporting that violent crimes – including gun crimes – dropped dramatically in the first six months of 2009, with murder down 10 percent across the US as a whole.
Concurrently, the FBI reports that gun sales – especially of assault-style rifles and handguns, two main targets of gun-control groups – are up at least 12 percent nationally since the election of President Obama, a dramatic run on guns prompted in part by so-far-unwarranted fears that Democrats in Congress and the White House will curtail gun rights and carve apart the Second Amendment.
Which puts a huge hole in gun-control advocates’ argument that more guns result in more crime. David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control in New York, is quoted as saying, “There are very consistent findings that the acquisition and obtaining of carry permits by ordinary law-abiding people has either no or very little impact on the crime rate.”
The usual anti-gun suspects don’t have much to say in light of the hard facts, besides a weak quote from the Brady Campaign. It’s all far cry from earlier in the year, when Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center said “concealed handgun permit holders do not prevent mass shootings, they perpetrate them.”
Of course, the sword cuts both ways. The crime drop isn’t necessarily caused by the rise in gun ownership. Among the possible reasons the article cites for the drop in crime are “Americans hunkering down, spending less time out on the town with cash in their pockets and more time at home with the porch lights on, experts say. So-called “smart policing” that focuses specifically on repeat offenders and troubled areas could also be playing a role, as could extended unemployment benefits that staved off desperation.”
But still … all the guns couldn’t hurt. The article waits until the kicker quote to get around to the idea that an armed citizenry is a polite citizenry (an idea that protective fathers of daughters have long embraced):
One prominent gun rights researcher, Gary Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University in Tallahassee, leaves the door open to the idea that news of booming gun sales could have a deterrent effect on violent criminals.
“It’s possible that criminals hear about lots of people buying guns, and then you can see a plausible mechanism, that conceivably could have produced a reduction in murder,” says Professor Kleck. “It’s all a matter of perception, not reality, for prospective murderers.”