Blaming Guns For Rising Crime

With America experiencing the largest single-year increase in homicide ever recorded in 2020, and data indicating another double-digit increase last year, it appears that many politicians including the president are confused about the cause.  During a New York  visit with the Mayor Eric Adams last week, President Biden pledged to address the city’s out-of-control crime with help in getting illegal guns off the streets.  Adams, a former cop, along with mayors in Baltimore, DC, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and St. Louis among others believe the most effective approach to violent and property crime is to try and remove guns from the hands of criminals.  Rebecca Rosenberg of Fox News has this piece discussing the fallacy of focusing on the weapon rather than the progressive policies that have enabled criminals to stay on the streets and prey upon the public.   Cully Stimson, a former prosecutor and senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation calls the focus on “gun crimes” a red herring.

Stimson blamed much of these increases on progressive district attorneys who have weakened consequences for a range of serious crimes in mostly Democratic-run cities.

“It is not true that crime is rising in every big city — it’s true that it’s rising in cities that have elected rogue prosecutors,” Stimson said, specifically highlighting the policies of George Gascón in Los Angeles, Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, Kim Foxx in Chicago, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia and others.

They have all argued that most misdemeanors should not be prosecuted, lobbied for lighter sentences for serious felonies and pushed for the elimination of cash bail.  The result has been mass shoplifting, open prostitution, drug markets and, in many cases, record numbers of shootings and murders, he said.  Stimson, who formerly worked as an Assistant US Attorney in D.C., contended that giving a pass on lower level crimes breeds more serious misconduct.

Jeffrey Butts, the director of the Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, disagreed with Stimson.

“The argument about woke prosecutors is entirely ideological and devoid of evidence,” Butts told Fox News Digital. “There’s no correlation between the quality and tone of prosecution and the violent crime surge we’ve seen in the last two years all over the country.”

He added that strong federal gun control laws would drive down violent crime by stemming the flow of firearms from states with more permissive firearm laws.  “Studies have shown that aggressive prosecution and severe punishment will cost an enormous amount of money, hurt communities and not improve public safety, he said. “Certain and swift punishment are more powerful crime deterrents,” Butts added.

Hogwash.   In 2003 Philip J. Cook, a Duke University professor regarded as the nation’s foremost authority on gun control, released a study on the nation’s most sweeping gun control measure in decades, “Evaluating the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, ” which found the measure had no discernible impact on gun crime.

Professor Butts contradicts himself, telling us “studies have shown” that aggressive prosecution and stiff punishment hurts communities and does not improve public safety, then that swift and certain punishment is a powerful deterrent.  While I know of no studies that show what he claims, swift and certain punishment requires aggressive prosecution.  Perhaps the professor should read his John Jay College colleague Barry Latzer’s exhaustively researched book “The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America” to discover that cultures which disrespect the law,  along with soft-on-crime policing and sentencing are the engines of increased crime and violence.  Did the professor miss the New York renaissance than began in 1993 under Mayor Giuliani and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton that ran for twenty years?  By instituting aggressive proactive policing, cracking down on so-called “low level” crimes like vagrancy, prostitution, drug dealing, vandalism and theft, and throwing the book at repeat and violent felons, homicides in New York dropped by 66% in the first eight years, and continued to drop for another decade. Major crime in the city dropped by 56%, to a rate 3.5 times lower than the national crime rate.  That translated into a 45.7% decline In rapes, a 67.2% decline in robberies, a 39.6% decline in aggravated assault, a 68.2% decline in burglary, a 43% decline in larceny, and a 73.3% decline in motor vehicle theft.  By 2001, more than 6,000 fewer New Yorkers per year became victims of serious crimes.   Comparable results occurred in other big cities where state and  local governments adopted similar policies.

There is no excuse for any academic, politician or news reporter to ignore these facts in order to push a political agenda which allows innocent people to suffer and die.