“We’ve got to do something.”
That seems to be the refrain after the violent school shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday. What that “something” is isn’t often well-defined by those calling for “something” to happen. It all reminds me of this Russell Brand spoof about “doing something,” mocking this sort of pop-culture activism.
But here’s the thing: While the incident in Connecticut was terrible, statistically it’s an anecdote. It’s one incident, and the emotional response to it should hardly be the basis or even the impetus for sweeping changes in public policy.
Because here’s reality. Based on data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, violent crime has been trending down in America for a couple of decades now:
What’s even more interesting than that is the fact that, even during this decline in violent crime, gun sales have skyrocketed. In the last three years alone gun sales in America have increased 40%.
And not only have gun sales gone through the roof, but states have taken a more permissive stance toward carrying those guns. Since the 1980’s no fewer than 49 states have passed laws allowing concealed carry. While these laws vary from state to state in terms of how restrictive they are, the trend is definitely toward more gun possession:
Put simply, there are more guns out in the public, the number of people carrying guns with them has increased and violent crime has declined.
I won’t go so far as to say that violent crime is down because of these upward trends in right to carry and gun sales (though I don’t think a connection between the two should be dismissed either), but if the gun control proponents are correct we should be seeing violent crime spikes in correlation to these spiking sales and increasingly lax carry laws.
We’re not, and that’s devastating for the case of gun control. All the more so because the places where gun control is the most severe, places like Chicago and Washington DC, have some of the worst crime rates in the nation. There is also a lesson to be learned from our international friends as well. Great Britain, for instance, banned handguns outright in the mid-1990’s. Yet over the last decade, gun crimes are up 89% in that country.
Maybe it’s time to admit that gun control doesn’t reduce crime.