Sometimes the core idea for a post originates in a forum, amidst a discussion already in-progress. That’s what happened with this post, too, which is here with some slight modifications for better out-of-context reading. For reference, the sources for some of the data cited below are here and here.
Custer County, Colorado. That’s where we live. More guns here, per capita, than the national average, by far. Less crime here, per capita, than the national average, by far. Is it a fluke? If you’re inclined to say it is a fluke, I’d like to see some justification for that. Custer County isn’t alone in the US (although it is unique in many other areas).
Custer County is the sort of place where stupid criminals get taken out of the gene pool by citizens. Cook County (location of Chicago) is not. In Custer County, the vast majority of those with handguns are law-abiding citizens. In Cook County, the vast majority of those with handguns are law-breaking people (some not even citizens).
I did a little scrounging around the internet to see what I might turn up on areas somewhat familiar with me–so I could get a bit of a mental corollary and see what the numbers might indicate. I found data for “serious crimes known to police” for three counties, plus the populations of each of those counties. If we count the following as “serious crimes” (have to patch together data from several sites and spreadsheets) we get interesting results: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault. For each, I divide the “serious crimes” by the county population:
Custer County, CO, 3,999 people
Cook County, IL, 5,096,540 people (home of Chicago)
Maricopa County, AZ, 2,611,327 people (home of Phoenix)
Some of the numbers are a few years old (what can you do when looking for census-based statistics?), but I find them interesting.
Whatever the true reason, I find highest crime (by far) in the most handgun-restricted places. I threw in the Phoenix area, since comparing Cook County to Custer County is a bit odd–huge difference in population. But Maricopa is one of the most populous counties in the nation and serves as the best comparison I could think of where I know the handgun laws to be relatively lax.
So–almost no crime in our county, with Cook County doubling the crime in Maricopa County. DOUBLING! Hmmm. I get the feeling that “serious crimes known to police” often involve things like handguns. Isn’t it strange such crimes might happen where such guns are banned? (I don’t think so.)
It seems to me that crime finds difficulty thriving where the citizens of an area tend to be better armed. This makes sense, right? If we use a bit of hyperbole, it’s obvious. Let’s take a look at two cities–one with 100% armed citizens, the other with 0% armed citizens.
In Armed City, a rapist is loose, often arming himself with a knife. Unfortunately for this scumbag, he’s now operating in Armed City. His potential victim hears his forced entry into her residence and the idiot’s career as a living scumbag is converted into a career as a dead scumbag.
In Unarmed City, a rapist is loose, often arming himself with a knife. This scumbag is used to getting whatever he wants since he’s been operating in Unarmed City for several months. His potential victim hears his forced entry into her residence and immediately calls the police. Unfortunately, the headlines in the evening paper the next day cite yet another grim statistic.
Look, it’s obvious not all potential crimes can be prevented merely by having a firearm at hand. This is true. But think of the many crimes that can be either prevented or deterred or at least fought by having a firearm. And with law-abiding citizens, this will happen only with lax laws on firearm possession. (Certainly, violent criminals care little about such firearm laws.) I don’t understand how disarming the law-abiding citizens ever helps reduce crime. From the quick numbers I dug up, it doesn’t. I’d imagine there could be some exceptions to what I found, but there are exceptions to everything, so what’s that prove?
Ask yourself the question, “Which woman in which city would I rather be in the extreme examples above?” What about in a real-world situation you can think of from recent headlines? What about a couple of years ago at Virginia Tech?
Those citizens “trusted” by their government to govern themselves with fewer restrictive laws tend to have less difficulty with crime and a more healthy embrace of freedom itself.
We have an absurd situation that’s grown slowly over the last few decades in some areas of our great nation. An irrational network of laws have combined with increases in violent crime to the degree that it’s truly illegal to be a citizen protected from violent crime. Chicago’s Mayor Daley seems bent on keeping bans on handguns that can only possibly disarm the law-abiding citizens while allowing the violent criminals to continue in their crimes–unobstructed by citizens able to defend themselves on equal ground.
What does this leave us with? Total reliance on the police force. Is this a realistic solution to spontaneous violent crimes? I don’t think so. How can the police possibly protect every citizen in Chicago? They cannot. But that’s really not the point of having police, either. The violent criminals have guns, the law-abiding citizens cannot have guns, the police cannot defend these citizens. Where is this going? The citizens of Chicago cannot possibly be legally protected from criminal vermin.
How is this a good thing? This is a great question. The only thing I can see anyone getting out of this in governmental echelons is control over a population increasingly dependent on local authorities and governmental services–services that fail them, but are nonetheless forced upon them. Is this an issue of control?
What I don’t like about this is the culture of fear of the gun itself. Sure, any necessity to have guns is a grim reminder of the degraded human condition–but this condition is best confronted head-on instead of ignored. Why hide from reality? Why not instead change reality? When a culture of fear of a neutral (but powerful) tool is created and sustained for more than a generation, changing this culture is extremely difficult, and therefore unlikely. The culture of fear, then, may become the primary obstacle to the only realistic solution available.
The statistics I’ve cited above are stark reminders of the high correlation between the legality of defending one’s self with tools on par with those of the violent criminals and low violent crime rates. Yes, guns can, and often do, kill people. But the numbers also suggest the mere presence of guns in citizens’ possession also saves lives (quite often without even firing a single shot).
Why make it easy–why not make it dangerous–to be a violent criminal? In 1996 in Cook County alone, we had 64,746 violent crimes committed. Could this have possibly been the same number if the citizens of Cook County were armed like the citizens of Custer County? I don’t think so.
Those criminals would have moved on to greener pastures.