After declining for over two decades, homicides in the United States increased sharply in 2015 and 2016. This slowed a little bit in the years that followed, until another dramatic increase in homicides occurred in 2020. In fact, the 30% increase from 2019-2020 is the largest ever recorded. By 2021, homicides rose another 5%. This uptick was not as striking as the one seen in 2020, though the numbers were still higher than pre-2019.
A recent report from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) published this month provided in-depth information on federal firearms offenders sentenced in 2021 under the primary firearms guideline, §2K2.1. This report is part of a larger series that examines various aspects of firearms offenses, such as mandatory minimum penalties and firearms offenders’ recidivism rates. USSC’s past research has found that firearms offenders are generally younger, have more extensive criminal histories, are more likely to recidivate, and are more likely to engage in violent criminal behavior. The number of firearms offenses has risen in recent years, and this report provides details that may be useful to policymakers. Continue reading . . .
Misleading numbers: Why are suicides and homicides lumped together under the “gun violence” umbrella?
A recent article in TIME Magazine purports that “California’s answer to gun violence could be a model for the entire country.” In sum, the article states that California’s firearm violence has decreased over the last 20 years or so, relative to the rest of the country. They attribute this to the various gun legislation passed in California over the years that disrupted the manufacturing of cheap guns within the state, closed private sales loopholes, and restricted gun ownership for people convicted of a violent misdemeanor. But when looking at the actual data, these claims appear misleading.
A new article by Thomas Hogan of the Manhattan Institute discusses some of the recent data on crime trends presented by the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC). One important point brought up in that piece concerns the recidivism of federal firearms offenders. Federal firearms offenders are usually convicted of being felons-in-possession of firearms, or they are convicted of carrying a firearm related to another crime such as drug trafficking or robbery. Per the USSC’s 2021 annual report, firearms offenders recidivate at a higher rate than all other offenders, with almost 70 percent being re-arrested within eight years of release. A complementary USSC report discusses these findings in more detail, noting that recidivism rates for firearms offender were consistently higher than non-firearms offenders regardless of age and criminal history.
The California DOJ recently released new and updated firearms data, available through the OpenJustice Data Platform. The Firearms Dashboard includes data from the past decade on things like dealer records of sales, gun violence restraining orders, concealed weapons permits, assault weapons ownership, and more. There are also a variety of links to supplemental resources, such as the California Firearms Law Summary. The portal shows how many guns were purchased each month and year, and this is also broken down by county, manufacturer, type of transaction (e.g., dealer sale, private party sale, pawn shop), race and age of the purchaser, and more. Similarly, the same breakdowns are available for gun violence restraining orders, assault weapons registrations, concealed weapon licenses, and more.
The U.S. Supreme Court continued its chip-by-chip undermining of federal sentence enhancements for violent crimes, making one more narrowing of the definition of “violent felony.” In United States v. Taylor, No. 20-1459, it’s attempted robbery under the Hobbs Act that bites the dust. This will come as no surprise to those who have watched the steady parade of decisions excluding from the term “violent felony” crimes that common sense would tell us are violent. See, e.g., this post. Continue reading . . .
Oakland, CA on Monday, September 13, 2021, was a “bloodbath” according to Sgt. Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association. Homicides in Oakland increased from 67 by September 2020 to at least 93 by September 2021, which amounts to a 38.8% increase. “This devastating violence is brought to you by the majority of Oakland’s City Council that defunded the police that discounts the plight of Oakland’s victims of violent crime, and hide behind their zoom screens, ignoring the decade-high violent crime occurring on city streets,” said Donelan.
The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a fractured decision that will severely limit the provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act that allowed the federal government to put away habitual felons who commit three violent felonies.
Definitions of crimes generally require both a bad act and a bad state of mind. For many violent crimes in many states, the bad state of mind may be either intentional or reckless. In deciding whether a prior conviction is for a violent crime, the Supreme Court looks only at the definition, not the actual facts of the crime.
Under today’s decision in Borden v. United States, No. 19-5410, violent crimes that could possibly be committed recklessly will no longer be considered “violent” for ACCA purposes no matter how clearly intentional the crime was in the actual case.
There is no majority opinion providing a coherent rationale for this appalling result. Continue reading . . .
The Sacramento Bee has this story on Alberto Quiroz, who was sentenced to ten years in state prison for the events in the 2017 death of CHP Officer Lucas Chellew who died as a result of injuries sustained in a high-speed chase with Quiroz through South Sacramento. Quiroz had 5 previous failures to appear on unrelated charges and previous cases. He was arrested on May 5th for assaulting one of his family members with a semi-automatic weapon. So the question is, why was he released less than three and a half years into this sentence?? Below is the answer offered by corrections spokeswoman, Dana Simas.
Kent noted yesterday a split Ninth Circuit en banc decision that upholds Hawaii’s very strict gun control law. The percolating Second Amendment question out in the country is whether and under what conditions a law-abiding citizen can legally carry a gun for self-defense outside his home. The Hawaii case might very well prove to be grist for that mill, but there is another case in the pipeline that might get there first. My friend Prof. Josh Blackman has the story.