“Do it for the children,” my California friend used to say in a bad Arnold Schwarzenegger imitation. Her point was that any time a politician mentioned children, they were trying to sneak something past you. She was right. The meme “guns are the leading cause of death for children” is popular but wrong, and it should be uttered in a thick Austrian accent. Define “child” A key problem with the English language is that one word can have many definitions. Add political opportunism, and there can be hundreds. Common dictionaries define “child” as “a person between birth and puberty.” This is why we tend to speak of “children” and “teenagers” and “adults” as distinctly different groups. And anyone who has raised a child from birth to beyond age 14 will attest that their darling little angels turn into disgusting little devils once hormones take command of their brains and bodies.
If Washington, D.C. is an indicator, criminal justice reform should start with reforming criminals. A recent dive into gun homicides in the nation’s capital shows that gun violence there remains a street gang problem, as is the case in most metro areas. Take-aways Most gun homicides are committed by “gang age” males. Half of suspects have been in the criminal judicial system since their juvenile ages. All (on average) had prior charges of firearm violence. A likely minimum of 52% of homicides are gang or gang nexus related. Guns in D.C. after decades of banning guns Let’s start by noting that D.C. is the per capita murder capital as well as the nation’s capital.
When it comes to gun violence, it’s tough to beat street gangs. They have made a sport of it. But the spooky question has been, “How much gun violence is gang violence?” Thanks to a little triangulation on our part, we think it is amplissimum. Major Take-aways Gangs likely constitute 85% of firearm homicides in the US. There is a close correlation between metropolitan gang-age homicides and estimates of gang populations by degrees of urbanization. The Data Dearth For all the great scorekeeping the FBI does, when it comes to murder, they have understandable gaps. Every year the FBI reports on the circumstances that led to a homicide, in their Expanded Homicide Tables. There are two rows of data that list what police were absolutely certain were gang related murders.
One aspect of inner-city violence with guns From crime statistics and criminology studies we know that: Gun violence is a huge problem in poor, inner-city neighborhoods. The prime gang recruitment ages are between 14 and 19. Gun carrying, almost always done illegally, is common. An open question is “what drives these bad decisions, to associate with street gangs, acquire guns illegally, and to use them?” Here is one element worth noting: that emotionally callous kids are more prone to gun play than others. What is “callousness”? Both the dictionary and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders defines this. The dictionary definition is more straightforward and says to be callous is to be “insensitive, indifferent, unsympathetic”. The DSM has a special specifier identifying people with “limited prosocial emotions”. Same thing, different wording. A new study studied if callous kids were (a) more likely to carry a gun and …Continue reading →
For decades, the raw data has shown that the bulk of gun crimes, woundings and deaths occur in the inner cities and are closely associated with gangs. What we don’t have a great deal of clarity about is why and how this situation has come to dominate gun violence. Forget the statistically rare mass public shootings, the even more rare terrorist events, and even the plummeting rates of gun accidents. If you are actually serious about “gun safety,” then you focus on what is occurring inside of major metro areas. Seventeen people died in the Parkland High School shooting. That many high school aged blacks die every week from gun violence, and these deaths are not tied to mass murders. Thanks to the Center for Court Innovation, we have some added clarity. “Gotta Make Your Own Heaven” That is the title of a solid bit of research published in August …Continue reading →
A congressman I met in my teens told me, “If someone mentions kids when debating politics, they are hiding behind children.” It took time before the utter cynicism reality of his thinking manifested itself in my life. But at least nine times in ten when a politico says, “It’s for the children,” it is really for the operative’s ideology. So, when I saw the following blurb from the propaganda wing of a policy group, I had to document the realities. Intermixing terms and deviants “Gun deaths among school-age children have increased in the last decade. A study published Thursday in the American Journal of Medicine found that 38,942 kids aged 5 to 18 were fatally shot in the U.S. between 1999 and 2017. The authors noted a steep rise among black children beginning in 2013. The study’s lead researcher put the toll in perspective: ‘In 2017, there were 144 police …Continue reading →
Some cities have targeted gang members and seen significant reduction in gun deaths. By treating the disease, they are rediscovering the cure. Major take-aways About 74% of inner-city homicides (and other violence) is caused by 1% of the population Motivating gangs to not kill works The motivation can be peer pressure, intervention or incarceration The never ending gang backstory Criminologists have long noted that gun violence tends to be a Big City problem. Subcultures within urban centers spawn violence committed for little good reason. This then creates a disproportionate number of homicides. But what we have also known all along is that even though America’s gang participation rate is huge compared to non-U.S. cities, the number of gang members in the general population is small. In one report (which we discuss in more detail below) gang members account for less than 1% of the population, though they are responsible for …Continue reading →
Prioritize New York! You are getting things mighty backwards. Two recent news stories show how lackadaisical thinking harms public policy. The first was the state’s Attorney general bragging that he had eliminated the plague of realistic-looking toy guns. The other headline was that half of the shootings and 40% of the 300 homicides in New York City alone thus far this year were gang related. Keep in mind that NYC homicides are up over 5% this year (this despite the so-called SAFE Act of 2013, which enacted a wealth of new gun control laws … which appear to be doing nothing). Ponder that. It is likely that toy guns resulted in zero deaths, yet gangs resulted in at least 120, not to mention the non-fatal stabbings, shootings, beatings and other pastimes gangs enjoy. With 375 different street gangs and a rising homicide rate, gangs would be an obvious priority …Continue reading →
America doesn’t have a gun problem, but it sure as heck has a gang problem. Quick Take-Aways America has an insanely high concentration of people in gangs – about 953% higher than other countries (see analysis warnings below). Thankfully these are confined mainly to a few really rank cities. American gang culture is not replicated elsewhere Nearly every study associated gang membership with violent crime (including gun homicides). The Silly Propaganda When the gun control industry starts complaining about American gun violence, they never mention gangs. When someone (like me) mentions gangs to gun control advocates, they dismiss gangs as a non-issue. As someone who has lived next door to Oakland, California I can attest that it is very much an issue (as it is in Barack Obama’s own Chicago). Yet it is very different in America. “European cities lack the strong gang traditions that exist in some large U.S. …Continue reading →
It is no secret that most gun violence occurs in America’s big cities (in part because big city mayors, who don’t give a damn about the poor, who are most affected by violent crime). What is interesting though is how bad these places are and how disproportionately they contribute to American gun homicides. It is, after all, the big cities where street gangs thrive and to where criminal devolve. Here are the mind numbing numbers: America’s homicide rate is 4.7 The top 20 most deadly big cities 7% of the nation’s population 21% of their homicides Thus, making 20 cities disappear would lower the lower the national homicide rate to 4.0, or 15%. So can we send these cities to Syria? Detroit Baltimore Philadelphia Memphis Chicago Milwaukee Oklahoma Washington Dallas Indianapolis Jacksonville Fresno Nashville-Davidson Houston Louisville Boston San Francisco Phoenix Tucson Los Angeles UPDATE 2017-08-03: Having finally found the time …Continue reading →