Monday, September 26, 2005

Missing the obvious

Violent rime rates in the US have fallen to 30-year lows.

There are several explanations for this. Some credit the current "lock 'em up" strategy, others say it's because of more police, still others claim that increased vigilance caused by terrorism has contributed to the decline.

I've even read a study that claimed it was due to all those abortions performed on poor inner-city women back in the 70's and 80's. The authors said that in effect there is no new generation of criminals in the ghettos because they've all been murdered already.

But there's one important contributing factor that you'll never see mentioned. Anyone care to guess which one I'm talking about?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Notice the graphic accompanying the story linked above. Notice that around about 1995 there was a sudden drop in crime rates.

Anyone know what else happened in 1995?

That year was a watershed for "shall-issue" concealed carry laws. Thanks to new Republican majorities in many state legislatures, pro-gun bills that had languished for years were finally passed. Prior to 1995, only 22 states had passed some form of liberalized concealed carry; in 1995 alone, some seven states (including Utah) passed the new NRA-supported laws, dramatically increasing the number of permittees nationwide. More importantly, the high-crime city of Philadelphia was brought under Pennsylvania's concealed carry law by the passage of statewide pre-emption legislation in 1995.

In short, some 50 million Americans were made eligible to carry concealed in the space of less than one year. I believe this created a "tipping point" that nudged crime rates into a free-fall. Although there were not enough permittees to create such a drop, there were enough criminals in "shall-issue" states that were so worried by the prospect of meeting an armed permittee they changed their behavior.

Even if you don't subscribe to that theory, one thing has been made abundantly clear by the recent drop in violent crime: The hysterical predictions by the gun-control lobby of road-rage shootouts and concealed weapon permittees killing each other over parking spaces have been proved false.


At 1:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FWIW, Philadelphia isn't all that high crime.


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