Inner-city Guns — 4 Comments

  1. Hi Guy,

    Saw a typo under ‘Some Subculture Statements’ 2nd sentence – ‘patents’ (I think should read as parents). Maybe there’s only one L at the final subsection (‘Unraveling’)

    You nailed it with this one (for me, at least). It seems so (anecdotally) obvious that maybe 90% of all gun violence is gang/drug related and tied most notably to a specific set of inner cities. But as you cautioned a few years back, FBI data limitations don’t offer the factual support.

    There may be value to building up awareness before making that last statement about ‘Unraveling’. It’s one of those aspects that students of the area understand inherently, but most of the public not so much. Reference to The Chicago Trace Report may help evidence a factual basis. Year after year, roughly 95% of all the guns recovered after criminal activity are found to have been acquired and possessed illegally.

    Maybe a subject for a different day.. extent to which gangs may be leveraging the ghost gun industry. When an enterprising minor with a drill press and credit card can acquire unimpeded everything needed to build a franken-glock or AR rifle (or pistol) for a few hundred bucks, maybe some legal adjustments are warranted. (but which ones? and is it an issue worth tackling).

    • Thanks for the typo catch.

      Yes, both public awareness and structured unraveling of the underlying causes are essential.

  2. I was most struck by the prevalence of gun carry for self-defense. In other words, inner-city youth carry guns for the same reason we OFWGs carry. What could we possibly do about that which would have a net positive result?

    It seems probable that the unlawful homicide rates observed in inner-cities are NOT evenly distributed across the entire carry population. A small proportion of carriers are UN-lawfully killing most of the victims. The majority are killing no one. (Some of this majority may kill/wound in self-defense only.) IF this is taken (or discovered) to be true, then what?

    Stop & Frisk – is apt to target the majority of carriers NOT producing the unlawful homicides. This measure would seem to be unproductive at best and, arguably, counter-productive. A better approach would be to adopt Constitutional-Carry to inner-city teenagers so that the majority of de-facto carriers could be legalized. (I’m not suggesting this is politically feasible; merely that it’s an implication of this line of inquiry.)

    Enforcement of Felon-in-Possession – is likewise apt to target the majority of carriers NOT producing the unlawful homicides.

    Enforcement of Homicide laws – is likely to be unproductive; and, in many cases, counter-productive. Those perpetrators committing the majority of homicides are likely “good at it” in the sense of avoiding being caught. The anti-snitch culture ensures that few of these perps are identified, let alone successfully prosecuted. Those few who are successfully prosecuted are sentenced to terms too short to prevent their return to the streets; or, they are paroled. Sentences run concurrently such that the homicide-by-gun crime is at best a marginal deterrent to some other crime; e.g., 4 years for aggravated assault with a concurrent sentence of 5 years for homicide-by-gun isn’t going to persuade a perp to use a knife.

    Conversely, those who are identified, arrested and prosecuted MIGHT be individuals who keep/carry a gun for self-defense yet are not especially hostile. The circumstances of a homicide are NOT usually clear-cut. Suppose a sympathetic inner-city resident who kills another with his gun. The odds that he dotted all his ‘i’s and crossed all his ‘t’s in the self-defense laws are really poor. He is likely to be identified and prosecuted because he isn’t a skillful assassin; he is apt to be caught “with a smoking gun”. Mounting a successful self-defense case is a six-figure proposition; say $100,000 in lawyers, investigators and expert witnesses. Our supposed sympathetic inner-city resident is a cake-walk for a prosecutor intent on showing he is tough on gun crime.

    I see the prospects for successful gun-crime-control in these inner-cities as very bleak. Gun-control on the relatively peaceful inhabitants seems tantamount to turning these precincts over to the habitually violent and lawless. Adopting a highly liberal approach to gun-control (e.g., Constitutional Carry for 16 year-olds, as is the law in Vermont) could be tantamount to abandonment of the rule-of-law in these precincts. Neither is intrinsically attractive. It is by no means clear which of these two approaches is apt to reduce mortality/morbidity by gunshot.

    I see only one guiding light – principle – that might be useful:
    – Where government can NOT make the situation BETTER,
    – it should, at least, REFRAIN from making the situation WORSE.

    Unfortunately, this principle runs head-long against our natural instinct to cry: “There ought to be a LAW!!!” whenever anyone points out a problem.

    • Thanks for the well reasoned comment.

      It comes down to “trust”. In the same report, it was noted that trust, even outside of gang activities, was low. No trust between neighbors, much less neighborhoods.

      The long-term solution is to create communities where trust is higher. The involves getting the bad actors (serious thugs and violent predators) into jails. Next is dismantling gangs since they specifically set-up gang rivalries, which is enforced with violence. Dismantling gangs is not going to be easy or fast, but stats indicate the war on drugs may be a big mistake (too much profit motive). Altering the community tolerance of gangs will be necessary too, but changing public culture is a big, big, big process.

      Those factors along — thugs and gangs/drugs — likely would cut street violence by 3/4 or more, and thus reduce the desire to illegally carry guns.

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