The New York Times missed a golden opportunity to blame inanimate objects for crimes. They’re either slipping or they have come around to the truth.
This weekend the Times released a story about the rising murder rates in 25 of America’s largest cities (for 2015).
The story was based largely on the findings of the Department of Justice [SIC] and, to a lesser degree, a complimentary study by the Major Cities [Police] Chiefs Association. Both of those studies failed to fault firearms and firearms owners. Maybe the moon is full or something.
This city trend defies the generation-long decline in homicide and violent crime in general over the past few decades. During that time firearms ownership has essentially doubled. Perhaps someone finally explained the divergence to the Times’ staff.
Why the increase in these cities. The worst offenders – St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Baltimore, et al have certain things in common. For one, they’re large cities. It doesn’t take a DOJ study to show that cities are more dangerous than smaller towns. The Chiefs found this was also true even in Canada (where gun control is stronger and demographics different).
The DOJ is good at compiling statistics and running analysis. Following Due Process, no. Prosecuting classified information breaches, no. Numbers, yes. They summarized from the numbers:
The study of crime trends is as old as criminology itself. A large body of contemporary
research literature is devoted to explaining the causes and correlates of changing crime rates (Blumstein and Wallman 2006; Rosenfeld 2011a). The current task, however, is not to explain a long- or even short-run trend in crime rates, but rather a trend reversal in the nation’s large cities. Some of the explanatory factors that have been emphasized in the crime trends literature are poor candidates for explaining the homicide rise of 2015. Shifts in age composition or the consequences of exposure to lead, for example, unfold gradually over time and cannot explain why homicide rates would suddenly increase after falling for over two decades. The same is true of economic conditions, except for the relatively abrupt changes in income and employment that occur during a recession. The last recession in the United States, however, ended at least five years before the current upturn in homicide (see http://www.nber.org/cycles/main.html). Some evidence suggests that a drop in consumer confidence contributed to the increase in violent crime in 2005 and 2006 (Rosenfeld and Oliver 2008). Consumer confidence, however, rose from 2014 to 2015.11 Crime increases also tend to correspond with rising inflation rates (Rosenfeld and Levin 2016), but U.S. inflation rates fell from 2011 through the end of 2015.12
It is reasonable to assume that whatever factors lay behind the 2015 homicide rise should themselves have exhibited comparably abrupt changes at the same time or shortly before. Among the explanatory factors featured in research on crime trends, the three that are examined here appear better able than others, at least in principle, to explain the recent homicide increase. We begin by considering whether the comparatively sudden uptick in homicide in large cities might have been spurred by a recent expansion in urban drug markets. The discussion then turns to the possible role of recent changes in imprisonment rates and, finally, to the Ferguson effect, in both its de-policing and “legitimacy” versions. Throughout the discussion, several empirical indicators are described that can be used to evaluate the contribution of these factors to the homicide increase, once the requisite data become available.
The causes of the trend were three-fold. First, in those cities, drug gang violence was up as dealers fought over customers. (Way to go, War on Drugs!). Second, a recent decrease in incarcerations caused an increase in recidivism – often in the drug business. (One notes that Sam Adams and Busch don’t seem to have these problems). Third, there was the “Ferguson Effect”. (This demonstrates that black lives matter – except to black criminals).
Overall: big cities are rotten and crime is still down in general. It’s almost not news. The big thing for me is that nobody blamed assault rifles. I suppose this was a real factual expose. I’m sure Kuntzman will be op/ed-ing along shortly to cry about the dreaded AR-15.*
*I just checked. Gershy, at last posting, was merely upset that Donald Trump is running for president. I had to look. Can’t be long.
On a more serious note: if Hillary is elected, I’m sure the Times will forget that they forgot about guns. Hillary, if she doesn’t keel over before November, will try like hell to ban guns. She’ll seize on this modest increase as “evidence”. If it’s Trump, then the fascists in Congress will keep pushing gun control.
Either way, someone will push the issue. I really can’t get over that they let it slip here. Just odd…