Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Unexamined Assumptions

UPDATE: below

Like many lefties, The Daily Sally assumes gun control reduces violence:
I'm also appalled at the number of violent deaths right here in my own hometown. The killing sprees escalating around the country.

I've banged the same drum about that violence in Philly and Omaha and Virginia Tech -- WE NEED GUN CONTROL.
But is there any support for liberal logic? Start with Monday's Washington Post:
The number of violent crimes reported nationwide appears to have fallen modestly in the first half of 2007, signaling the first notable decline in violence in two years, the FBI said yesterday.

Violent crimes including homicides, robberies and assaults fell 1.8 percent in January to June of last year compared with the same period in 2006, according to the preliminary FBI statistics. . .

The FBI report did not separate out data for the District, which has reported a 7 percent spike in homicides in 2007, part of an overall surge in gun violence.
As Stan at Free Constitution asks, "A surge in gun violence, how could that be? I thought the gun ban was still in effect???" It is--D.C. has "the nation's most draconian gun laws" which effectively prevent law-abiding citizens from "keeping" and "bearing" arms. And yet, for many years, gun violence rises here while declining elsewhere.

Lefties like Sally literally never have examined the evidence or considered an alternative plausible approach: armed self defense. Yet "progressives" see themselves as the "reality-based community."

As Stan says, it's more like "community-based reality."


Some assumptions were examined in an April 2000 article in Sally's hometown Philadelphia City Paper:
Since January 1999, the federally funded Operation Cease Fire program has hauled more than 300 of Philadelphia’s most egregious gun offenders off the streets and into federal court. In 1999 alone, gun possession indictments by the U.S. Attorney’s Office here more than quintupled from 1998. Out of 173 gun cases disposed of, only one defendant was acquitted, while 149 others simply pleaded guilty and went straight to federal prison.

Philadelphia’s rates of shootings and killings have been dropping steadily since Cease Fire’s launch 15 months ago. And although no one can be certain what role Cease Fire has played in making the city a safer place, it’s hard to imagine how so many dangerous characters could be put out of action without making some impact on crime. The only other program in the country like Cease Fire — Richmond, Virginia’s three-year-old Project Exile — has been widely credited with helping cut that city’s murder rate almost in half.

Perhaps what is most curious about both Cease Fire and Exile is that they are pet projects of the gun-loving fanatics who run the NRA — the National Rifle Association. In fact, it’s doubtful Cease Fire ever would have happened without prodding from the NRA.

For decades, the NRA had complained rather hollowly that guns don’t kill people, that criminals kill people. Congress, they said, should stop cooking up new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners since federal authorities were doing little or nothing to catch and prosecute convicted felons who violate existing gun laws. Intellectually, they had a point — why pass new laws when you don’t use the ones you’ve got? But the argument was always tainted by association, dismissed as little more than a specious debating trick to help defend any number of the organization’s unpopular positions.

In the last few years, however, the NRA finally started putting some of its considerable wealth and influence toward a federal crackdown on felons with guns — and the payoff is shaping up to be huge. By helping first to fund public outreach efforts for Project Exile, and then lobbying Congress to find seed money for Cease Fire, the NRA has spawned a federal gun-enforcement movement that has taken the U.S. Justice Department by storm. In January, President Clinton asked Congress for an extra $280 million for 1,000 new prosecutors and investigators to work on gun cases. Although Clinton has been a frequent target of the NRA’s contempt and derision, this is the first time any White House has ever sought such substantial funding to enforce gun laws, many of which are more than 30 years old and hardly ever used.

With their history of fanatical opposition to even the simplest of gun-control measures, the NRA and its Pennsylvania affiliates have long been political pariahs in Philadelphia, a city that has been bleeding to death for decades from drug-related warfare. Many local police, in particular, despise the NRA for its insane opposition to a federal ban on Teflon-coated "cop-killer" bullets — bullets designed for the express purpose of piercing police body armor.

Yet with Exile and Cease Fire, it is quite possible that the NRA has already helped prevent more gun violence in Richmond and Philadelphia than any gun-control law ever has.

True, the NRA may be a bunch of gun nuts. But when the NRA claims that controlling criminals makes a lot more sense than controlling guns, the Cease Fire experience in Philadelphia suggests that on this single point, the gun nuts may be right.

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