Gun Owners Aren’t to Blame For Surging Violent Crime

by
posted on January 31, 2023
crime scene with police car
Brian Sevald/iStock

When FBI reports last November revealed that Black Friday background checks showed it to be the fourth-highest day for gun sales since records have been kept, some anti-Second Amendment advocates were flabbergasted and angry. They don’t want people to protect themselves until help arrives. They don’t like that people are noticing that the far Left’s soft-on-crime policies have made us all less safe. And, at least in their public statements, they push the fiction that lawful gun sales are a cause for the rise in criminal violence.

“Crime is up a lot from where it was a couple of years ago,” Dr. John Lott, head of the Crime Prevention Research Center, said in an exclusive interview with America’s 1st Freedom. “And we really don’t have a good measure for what happened in violent crime in 2021 because about 40% of the police departments in the country—many of them are among the largest police departments in the country, such as New York City and Los Angeles—are not reporting crime data to the FBI.

“It’s not like these cities aren’t collecting this data, they’re just not turning it over to the FBI. Part of the reason for this is political. Part of it is the fact that crime has gone up so much in some places that by not reporting it to the FBI, they can then sort of hide how bad the crime increase might be in certain areas.”

Injustice Run Amok
Several obvious factors have contributed to the increase in crime.

First, “woke” district attorneys in some places are refusing to prosecute many violent criminals; they are, in fact, letting them go right back onto the streets. Additionally, some judges have released a lot of inmates from jails and prisons.

California, a notoriously soft-on-crime state, serves as a good example. According to a recent report by The Daily Mail, more than 7,000 convicted child sex offenders were let out of prison the same year they were incarcerated. That fact raised some eyebrows for Los Angeles former sex-crimes prosecutor Samuel Dordulian. “In my days, we made every effort to get as long of a prison sentence as we could, because we knew that the minute they’re going to come out, they’re more likely to reoffend and another child’s going to get harmed,” said Dordulian.

Another problem is so-called “bail reform.” Allowing people who’ve been arrested for violent crimes to leave jail without having to post bail has allowed career criminals and mentally ill individuals to continue to harm others. This policy change has often resulted in a catch-and-release justice system in some big cities; as a result, criminals know that if they commit another crime, it won’t cost them a penny to get back out on the streets again.

Houston, Texas, is a poignant example. Since embracing no-bail or low-bail policies, around 150 murders have been committed there over the past couple of years by violent criminals out on bond, according to Crime Stoppers Houston. Previously, these criminals would have awaited trial in jail, as they are clearly a danger to society.

One terrible example occurred in 2020, when a many-times-repeat offender, Randy Lewis, murdered 80-year-old grandmother Rosalie Cook by stabbing her to death in a Walgreens parking lot after she had gone inside the store to purchase a greeting card. At the time of Cook’s murder, Lewis had been arrested 67 times and was out on two personal- recognizance bonds, including one for capital murder.

Or consider the state of New York: According to data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, re-arrest rates for offenders released prior to when the state’s bail reform went into effect in 2019 were generally around 17-18%. That number jumped to 20-21% the year following, and many observers expect it to continue to climb.

Lastly, many police departments face greatly reduced budgets and staff. The “defund-the-police” insanity caused part of that problem and has helped drive crime rates higher in some large American cities. Having fewer officers on the street patrolling dangerous neighborhoods results in emboldened criminals and, all too often, death and destruction for law-abiding citizens.

Blaming the Gun Owner
Ironically, the same politicians and activists who favor turning criminals loose are quick to blame rising gun sales to lawful citizens and increased numbers of concealed-carry permits for rises in violent crime rates.

They have it backward. Over the past few years, as the legal system has become less interested in protecting citizens in some jurisdictions, more Americans have decided they need the ability to protect themselves. A 2021 Gallup poll found that more than half of Americans (51%) perceived crime to have climbed in their communities, up from 38% only a year before. Consequently, more people have realized that if they are going to be safe, they must be prepared to protect themselves.

The result has been a dramatic increase in gun sales, along with a large jump in the number of concealed-carry permits issued in many states. Also, several states have chosen to stop infringing on the right to bear arms altogether by deregulating concealed carry with constitutional, or “permitless,” carry laws.

“Today, Americans are often being misinformed about what causes crime and how you stop it—and how effective individuals are at being able to stop it,” says Lott, who keeps a running tally of mass-murderers who are stopped by armed citizens on his website (crimeresearch.org).

Meanwhile, an article in the magazine The Atlantic, titled “Stop Asking What Caused the Crime Spike,” is a poignant example of the ongoing denial about the real causes of crime. This article blames “inequality” for the sudden spike in crime. It then argues for a series of social prescriptions that avoid talking about catching and locking up criminals. President Joe Biden (D) has likewise given a lot of speeches promoting gun-control policies and blaming guns and gun sales for violent crime, as if any statistic indicates this is true. Biden, like many gun-control advocates (people who now call themselves “gun-safety” proponents), points an accusatory finger at law-abiding gun owners and their freedom, as if they were committing crimes, instead of focusing on the policies that are too often making it easier for criminals to continue to prey on others. 

“President Biden doesn’t seem to understand that armed, law-abiding citizens make it riskier for criminals to commit crime,” said Lott. “Biden never seems to grasp the value of deterrence. He hasn’t criticized the progressive prosecutors who refuse to prosecute violent criminals, the judges who have released large numbers of inmates from jails or the bail-reform measures that immediately put violent criminals back on the street. Instead, he blames armed citizens for crimes committed by criminals who, by the way, almost always have illegally obtained guns.”

Over 22 million Americans have concealed-handgun permits today, and that’s not counting the many millions who legally carry without a permit in the 25 states that now have some form of constitutional carry. Statistically, these people don’t commit crimes, yet we are supposed to believe armed citizens are at the bottom of this spike in crime. Nonsense. Lawful gun owners are not to blame. Criminals are. If we actually want to protect the innocent, then we need to use the laws now on the books to prosecute violent criminals. 

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