The PJ Tatler

More Guns, Less Crime? Not in the Washington Post

And in the cyberspace of the Washington Post, no less:

Virginians have been buying more firearms than ever, even though crime has been steadily falling. Why?

Last year, 420,829 firearms were bought through licensed gun dealers in the state. That’s a 73 percent increase over 2006. Leading the list were pistols (175,717), followed by rifles (135,495). According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, central Virginians packed more heat than anyone else, followed closely by Northern Virginians.

And yet, as more firearms are sold, the crime rate has continued to drop. From 2006 to 2011, the number violent crimes committed with handguns fell from 4,040 to 3,154, about 25 percent, the newspaper reported. Is there a correlation between increased gun sales and decreasing crime?

Since this is the WaPo, you won’t be surprised to hear that the writer’s opinion is no.

When you take a longer view, however, this thinking starts to fall apart. According to FBI reports, violent crime has been on a fairly steady downward trend since the early 1990s – much earlier than 2006, when Virginians started buying guns like crazy. The Economist magazine says the violent crime rate is at its lowest in 40 years and that the murder rate is less than it was a half a century ago.

It’s anyone’s guess why crime has continually dropped. Theories include demographic shifts resulting in fewer of the younger, inner-city men who tend to be involved in violent crime. Better community-based police work could be a cause. Some even say it’s because of large numbers of abortions by low-income women.

So what does the writer, Peter Galuszka, think?

My view? Virginians are packing heat with gusto for the wrong reasons. They and their gun sellers are riding a wave of irrational fear that was vigorously promoted by socially conservative politicians in the 2010 and 2012 elections. As for Obama, any link between a desire for personal, deadly firepower and the election of the country’s first African American president raises some rather ugly questions.

Good grief. Someone please send this man a copy of John Lott’s book on the subject.