Monday, February 14, 2022

Survey Says: Surprising News on how to Stop Gun Violence

 One of the problems about loudly support science and the scientific method of problem solving is that, sometimes, it comes up with an answer that doesn't seem correct. Or that you don't like.

This result covers both of those outcomes, it seems neither logical nor empirically correct.  Like most big city , blue state residents I assume the way to reduce gun violence is to get rid of guns. But let's look a little deeper and admit that this might not be true. Philadelphia did an in depth look at this. Let me quote from the piece directly for a small moment.

You can read the entire piece here, but these is the main point that threw me for a loop. The study covers from 1999 - 2019.

Year over year the amount of both fatal and nonfatal gun crimes hasn't changed all that much. And the rate of "solving" those crimes is very very low (from about 30% in New York, to mid 20%s in Philly and less than 11% in Chicago.)

On the other hand, the rate that the Philadelphia police are arresting people to get "guns off the street" has increased 300% over the last few years. The data suggests (okay, if I did not disagree the outcome I would say "the data shows") that there is no link between the number of guns taken out of circulation and the amount of gun crimes.

If this sounds counter-intuitive, I get it. But, it turns out that because there is an almost endless supply of guns now in the United States, pulling some off the street and expecting crime to go down is like plugging Niagara Falls with a few boulders and expecting a dry river.

In countries where there are many many fewer guns (so everywhere but Yemen and Afghanistan) those countries DO benefit from taking guns off the street. But the US just has too many.

The story also comments on the practice of pulling guns off the street even when no crimes is committed is overwhelmingly targeted at Black men. Up to 80% of all guns seized without a crime were seized from minorities. 

And since police often don't show up to trials where the guns were seized, it destroys faith in the system.

The report concludes that a much better solution is for the police to focus on actual gun violence and crimes rather than generalized random stops to get guns off the street. Clearing up the backlog of open cases would be a better use of police, a better result for the government and better results for the citizens of the city.

Again, I don't like the anwer, but it does make sense from the data presented and the current facts on the ground.

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