Quote of the day–Ricketyclick

The key tactic in any argument with a gun control advocate is to demand the citing of any instance where relaxing gun control laws has increased crime. And, I suspect, you can also do well by demanding the citing of any instance where imposing gun control on the general population has decreased crime.

More Flintlocks, Less Crime
August 13, 2010
[This is similar to Just One Question. And in fact takes it a short step further. This is fine with me.–Joe]


11 thoughts on “Quote of the day–Ricketyclick

  1. I’d settle for an example where “gun control” had any measurable overall effect on crime. And by “measurable”, I don’t mean a statistical analysis which ignores the multitude of factors for the sake of computational convenience. There appears to be a popular misconception that the arbitrary categories we have created to classify crime have an analog out on the streets; in fact a mugging could become a rape or a murder should the assailant take advantage of an opportunity. Furthermore, not every crime is known, we do not know every perpetrator and accomplice, and we don’t know where they are travel or when.

    What I do know is that crime continued to rise during the 20th century. This leaves only two possible conclusions: a) “gun control” has no effect, or b) “gun control” as practiced punishes the wrong party, and therefore appears to have no effect.

  2. It’s not clear to me the crime data we have is correct. Try looking at the recent FBI stats for Chicago. The last time I looked they didn’t have any because Chicago hadn’t sent them in (I should make a blog post about this).

    There is no strong incentive for the local governments to provide accurate reports. It takes time/money to provide that data. What should their priorities be? Put another cop on the street, buy some equipment for the crime lab, more training for everybody or compile and send a pile of papers off to D.C.?

    And that may not be the worst of it. What if the data says things are really bad in your neighborhood? Neither the police chief, the mayor, nor the governor want the information public.

    Our data sources, almost for certain, have a systematic bias toward underreporting.

  3. Actually, if you look at Los Angeles before the area had any gun control (that would be back in the 1800s) the homicide rate was HUGE. The homicide rate between 1847 and 1870 averaged 158 per 100,000. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Los_Angeles

    If we had the same homicide rate now, that would be 6000+ people killed every year. Less than 1000 people died in 2009.

  4. I know, but that’s like pointing out that Gettysburg had a really high murder rate that one year back in the 1860s. It was ethnic warfare between Mexican settlers, whites and Chinese.

    What does this have to do with “gun control”?

  5. I won’t buy the “ethnic warfare” argument. The population in Los Angeles hasn’t changed much from the 1800s. The city still doesn’t have a majority population (whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians are all under 50% in the city). What has changed is that we have laws now — and that is what it has to do with “gun control.”

    On top of that, I’m pointing at 23 years of evidence that showed an incredibly high murder rate. Not one year, not a couple of years, but 23 years. 23 years in relatively modern history where a lot of freedom was granted to people and they abused it. Hence, you get laws.

  6. Right. And the only things to have changed in Los Angeles in the past 140 years are the gun control laws, therefore, this drop in murders is completely and solely attributable to that legislation.

    *shakes head* The sad thing is that you probably believe that.

  7. What I’m finding amusing is that ubu52 is referencing a period that ended nearly 100 years before the bulk of gun control laws on both state and federal levels were enacted, a period where the bulk of firearms in private hands were single-action or single-shot blackpowder percussion firearms… And saying that a lot of freedom was granted to people? Firearms didn’t magically become legal and unrestricted in 1847, they were that way in 1847, 1837, 1827… and *gasp* 1877 (and ’87, ’97, ’07)!

    There was a 64 year gap between 1870 and the FIRST relatively major gun control law in the US. The 1934 NFA… and 98 years until the 1968 GCA (the SECOND major gun control law). And oddly enough, 99 years to the first major gun control law enacted by CA (‘Use a gun, go to prison’ – 1969). The next CA gun control law, the Assault Weapons Control Act, wasn’t enacted until 119 years later in 1989.

    There is no correlation between any of those and a decrease in crime levels, which were dropping well before any of them were passed and continued to drop at a steady rate even after the fact. In recent years, despite continually enacting stricter laws, they’ve stayed at roughly the same level, generally fluctuating a percent or two. It’s something that has happened in every single state, regardless of the level of control of firearms.

  8. I haven’t looked for the data to back up my hypothesis but I would guess that in that time period the demographics of the area were a preponderance of young single men. This sort of demographic imbalance seems to almost always result in high violent crime rates.

  9. Ubu52,

    Neither should I buy the argument, but you chose the source and here’s how the article opens:

    “Los Angeles changed rapidly after 1848, when California was transferred to the United States as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War…[f]or the next 120 years of Los Angeles’ growth, it was plagued by often violent ethnic and class conflict…”

    We’re both reading from a Wikipedia entry–specifically a sentence that refers to an “average”, and gives statistics without any other context. It also mentions New York’s crime rates in comparison. Are the guns the difference between the two? This was long before Big Tim Sullivan tried to disarm his competition. I guess I’ll have to read The Herald’s History of Los Angeles City to get the full story, if it there is one.

    I also detect a curious oversight in reasoning: freedom was not “granted” to the Mexican settlers by white people from the East. You may believe there is an absolute arbiter of freedoms that is solely under the control of your political tribe, but other people disagree. It’s odd to discard this plausible, overarching motive for the violence, but blame it on a specific object that existed in many places at the time, however unremarkable the object’s (alleged) influence elsewhere.

  10. The homicide rate between 1847 and 1870 averaged 158 per 100,000.

    Boy, talk about ignoring other possible causes! What about this, from that same Wikipedia entry:

    In 1848, the gold discovered in Coloma first brought thousands of miners from Sonora northern Mexico on the way to the gold fields.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I bet that whole “gold-rush” thing had just a tiny little effect on murder rates in those years. Not to mention the massive shifting of local politics and power structures that was going on because California had just been ceded to the US, the temporary lack of any legal system during the changeover, and the land ownership disputes that arose because “[T]he diseños (property sketches) held by residents did not secure title in an American court.”

    But only gun laws (none of which came into effect until over 60 years later) had any effect on the murder rates. Pull the other one Ubu, it’s got bells on.

  11. Look at the original quote from “More Flintlocks Less Crime.” (The Flintlock was introduced in England in 1630 so the USA should have had them 200 years later, don’t you think?)

    “I suspect, you can also do well by demanding the citing of ANY instance where imposing gun control on the general population has decreased crime.”

    Here’s something else about this: http://volokh.com/2007/08/26/how-homicidal-was-the-old-west/ Unfortunately the studies it references aren’t free on the Internet.

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