Gun violence has plummeted in America

To quote Dragnet’s Joe Friday, “just the facts, Ma’am.”

For years, every time there has been a high-profile gun killing or killings in America, Barack Obama and the usual suspects blame the guns, not the perpetrators (unless they are policemen).

Obama cares about the dead only insofar as he can score political points and attack Republicans.  Recall that he thinks most Americans (and not just small-town folks, it has become increasingly clear over the years) are xenophobic and cling to religion and guns.  He certainly never indicts Islamic terrorism.  The NRA and GOP are the enemies, not ISIS or AQ.  Hillary Clinton agrees, since she has identified the former two as her enemies and not the latter two.

The New York Times predictably joined the chorus in Saturday’s edition of the paper by publishing on its front-page an anti-gun editorial/screed.  But Obama and those allied with him who use victims to decry the epidemic of gun violence in America ignore the facts.

The Washington Post begs to differ.  In a column, “We’ve had a massive decline in gun violence in the United States. Here’s Why,” the paper lays out the facts:

Premeditated mass shootings in public places are happening more often, some researchers say, plunging towns and cities into grief and riveting the attention of a horrified nation. In general, though, fewer Americans are dying as a result of gun violence — a shift that began about two decades ago.

In 1993, there were seven homicides by firearm for every 100,000 Americans, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2013, that figure had fallen by nearly half, to 3.6 — a total of 11,208 firearm homicides. The number of victims of crimes involving guns that did not result in death (such as robberies) declined even more precipitously, from 725 per 100,000 people in 1993 to 175 in 2013.

Older data suggests that gun violence might have been even more widespread previously. The rate of murder and manslaughter excluding negligence reached an apex in 1980, according to the FBI. That year, there were 10.8 willful killings per 100,000 people. Although not a perfect measure of the overall rate of gun violence, the decline in the rate of murder and manslaughter is suggestive: Two in three homicides these days are committed with guns.

This decline in gun violence is part of an overall decline in violent crime. According to the FBI's data, the national rate of violent crime has decreased 49 percent since its apex in 1991. Even as a certain type of mass shooting is apparently becoming more frequent, America has become a much less violent place.

The paper identifies and explains five factors as being behind the good news.  More police officers, smarter policing, less alcohol abuse, less lead in the environment (in paint and car/truck exhausts) leading to less behavioral problems, and a better economy.  I would add at least one more off the top of my head, related to a better economy: capitalism.  Smarter technology and manufacturing have led to plummeting prices and widespread availability of consumer goods.  I recall reading about the recent bankruptcy of retailer Radio Shack.  The columnist had totaled up all the items that used to be bought separately that can now be found in a smartphone.  Expensive though some of those phones may be, the savings can be tremendous (no stereo system, no camera, no phone, etc.).  Flat-panel televisions used to be a target of thieves, but now they are just ignored.  Cash is on its way out, and credit cards now populate wallets and purses.  There are just fewer “reasons” to commit property crimes.

Importantly, two of the reasons given for the decline of gun violence are the police: more of them and smarter police methods.  Do Barack Obama or his political allies give them any credit  ever?  President Obama has admitted that gun violence is something that we should politicize (he politicizes everything, so why should victims stand in the way of his and his party’s drive for a one-party state?).

Will their agenda against the police reverse the good news about gun violence?  Do they care about facts when lies can be used to score political points?

Those are all rhetorical questions.

To quote Dragnet’s Joe Friday, “just the facts, Ma’am.”

For years, every time there has been a high-profile gun killing or killings in America, Barack Obama and the usual suspects blame the guns, not the perpetrators (unless they are policemen).

Obama cares about the dead only insofar as he can score political points and attack Republicans.  Recall that he thinks most Americans (and not just small-town folks, it has become increasingly clear over the years) are xenophobic and cling to religion and guns.  He certainly never indicts Islamic terrorism.  The NRA and GOP are the enemies, not ISIS or AQ.  Hillary Clinton agrees, since she has identified the former two as her enemies and not the latter two.

The New York Times predictably joined the chorus in Saturday’s edition of the paper by publishing on its front-page an anti-gun editorial/screed.  But Obama and those allied with him who use victims to decry the epidemic of gun violence in America ignore the facts.

The Washington Post begs to differ.  In a column, “We’ve had a massive decline in gun violence in the United States. Here’s Why,” the paper lays out the facts:

Premeditated mass shootings in public places are happening more often, some researchers say, plunging towns and cities into grief and riveting the attention of a horrified nation. In general, though, fewer Americans are dying as a result of gun violence — a shift that began about two decades ago.

In 1993, there were seven homicides by firearm for every 100,000 Americans, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2013, that figure had fallen by nearly half, to 3.6 — a total of 11,208 firearm homicides. The number of victims of crimes involving guns that did not result in death (such as robberies) declined even more precipitously, from 725 per 100,000 people in 1993 to 175 in 2013.

Older data suggests that gun violence might have been even more widespread previously. The rate of murder and manslaughter excluding negligence reached an apex in 1980, according to the FBI. That year, there were 10.8 willful killings per 100,000 people. Although not a perfect measure of the overall rate of gun violence, the decline in the rate of murder and manslaughter is suggestive: Two in three homicides these days are committed with guns.

This decline in gun violence is part of an overall decline in violent crime. According to the FBI's data, the national rate of violent crime has decreased 49 percent since its apex in 1991. Even as a certain type of mass shooting is apparently becoming more frequent, America has become a much less violent place.

The paper identifies and explains five factors as being behind the good news.  More police officers, smarter policing, less alcohol abuse, less lead in the environment (in paint and car/truck exhausts) leading to less behavioral problems, and a better economy.  I would add at least one more off the top of my head, related to a better economy: capitalism.  Smarter technology and manufacturing have led to plummeting prices and widespread availability of consumer goods.  I recall reading about the recent bankruptcy of retailer Radio Shack.  The columnist had totaled up all the items that used to be bought separately that can now be found in a smartphone.  Expensive though some of those phones may be, the savings can be tremendous (no stereo system, no camera, no phone, etc.).  Flat-panel televisions used to be a target of thieves, but now they are just ignored.  Cash is on its way out, and credit cards now populate wallets and purses.  There are just fewer “reasons” to commit property crimes.

Importantly, two of the reasons given for the decline of gun violence are the police: more of them and smarter police methods.  Do Barack Obama or his political allies give them any credit  ever?  President Obama has admitted that gun violence is something that we should politicize (he politicizes everything, so why should victims stand in the way of his and his party’s drive for a one-party state?).

Will their agenda against the police reverse the good news about gun violence?  Do they care about facts when lies can be used to score political points?

Those are all rhetorical questions.