Good news on the crime rate

Not everything in our society is going from bad to worse.  Over the last decade, we have seen a dramatic drop in the crime rate, and it keeps getting better.  Charles Lane gives some details:

The most important social trend of the past 20 years is as positive as it is underappreciated: the United States’ plunging crime rate.

Between 1991 and 2010, the homicide rate in the United States fell 51 percent, from 9.8 per 100,000 residents to 4.8 per 100,000. Property crimes such as burglary also fell sharply during that period; auto theft, once the bane of urban life, dropped an astonishing 64 percent. And FBI data released Dec. 19 show that the trends continued in the first half of 2011. With luck, the United States could soon equal its lowest homicide rate of the modern era: 4.0 per 100,000, recorded in 1957.

To be sure, the United States is still more violent than Europe or Canada, and that’s nothing to brag about. But this country is far, far safer than it was as recently as the late 1980s. . . .

We are reaping a domestic peace dividend, and it can be measured in the precious coin of human life. Berkeley criminologist Franklin E. Zimring has found that the death rate for young men in New York today is half what it would have been if homicides had continued unabated.

The psychological payoff, too, is enormous. Only 38 percent of Americans say they fear walking alone at night within a mile of their homes, according to Gallup, down from 48 percent three decades ago. . . .

Lower crime rates also mean one less source of political polarization. In August 1994, 52 percent of Americans told Gallup that crime was the most important issue facing the country; in November 2011, only 1 percent gave that answer. Think political debate is venomous now? Imagine if law and order were still a “wedge issue.”

Did I mention the economic benefits? Safe downtowns draw more tourists for longer stays. Fewer car thefts mean lower auto insurance rates. Young people who don’t get murdered grow up to produce goods and services.

Plunging crime rates also debunk conventional wisdom, left and right. Crime’s continued decline during the Great Recession undercuts the liberal myth that hard times force people into illegal activity — that, like the Jets in “West Side Story,” crooks are depraved on account of being deprived. Yet recent history also refutes conservatives who predicted in the early 1990s that minority teenage “superpredators” would unleash a new crime wave.

Government, through targeted social interventions and smarter policing, has helped bring down crime rates, confirming the liberal worldview. Yet solutions bubbled up from the states and municipalities, consistent with conservative theory. Contrary to liberal belief, incarcerating more criminals for longer periods probably helped reduce crime. Contrary to conservative doctrine, crime rates fell while Miranda warnings and other legal protections for defendants remained in place.

On the whole, though, what’s most striking about the crime decline is how little we know about its precise causes. Take the increase in state incarceration, which peaked at a national total of 1.4 million on Dec. 31, 2008. This phenomenon is probably a source of success in the war on crime — and its most troubling byproduct. But increased imprisonment cannot explain all, or most, of the decline: Crime rates kept going down the past two years, even as the prison population started to shrink. Crime fell in New York faster than in any other U.S. city over the past two decades — but New York locked up offenders at a below-average rate, according to Zimring’s new book, “The City That Became Safe.”

“What went wrong?” is the question that launched a thousand blue-ribbon commissions. But we also need to investigate when things go right — especially when, as in the case of crime, success defied so many expert predictions.

via Taking a bite out of crime – The Washington Post.

Any ideas for why the crime rate has been going down?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.peaceofficerministries.org Frank Ruffatto

    One answer is ‘smarter’ policing. That is, more intelligence driven policing whereby the community policing tactics have evolved into greater citizen involvement in particular communities and the police reap the benefit of more information coupled with technological advances. Having said that, as a retired peace officer turned Lutheran pastor, I am always able to find the cloud in the silver lining. ;-) … While crime has gone down – peace officer fatalities have increased. As reported here: http://news.yahoo.com/us-police-fatalities-13-percent-2011-173-130852835.html Romans 13:4 – The peace officer is God’s servant for our good.

  • http://www.peaceofficerministries.org Frank Ruffatto

    One answer is ‘smarter’ policing. That is, more intelligence driven policing whereby the community policing tactics have evolved into greater citizen involvement in particular communities and the police reap the benefit of more information coupled with technological advances. Having said that, as a retired peace officer turned Lutheran pastor, I am always able to find the cloud in the silver lining. ;-) … While crime has gone down – peace officer fatalities have increased. As reported here: http://news.yahoo.com/us-police-fatalities-13-percent-2011-173-130852835.html Romans 13:4 – The peace officer is God’s servant for our good.

  • Tom Hering

    “Any ideas for why the crime rate has been going down?”

    Vigilante justice. Citizens have rounded up and sentenced the most dangerous types to Congress.

  • Tom Hering

    “Any ideas for why the crime rate has been going down?”

    Vigilante justice. Citizens have rounded up and sentenced the most dangerous types to Congress.

  • http://www.cdeantonio.com/ Charles

    “To be sure, the United States is still more violent than Europe or Canada…” Another popular canard. According to reports released by the European Commission and United Nations, America has a violence rate of 466 crimes per 100,000 residents, ranking lower than the top ten most violent countries in the world. Who ranked highest? The UK.

    Read about it here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html

  • http://www.cdeantonio.com/ Charles

    “To be sure, the United States is still more violent than Europe or Canada…” Another popular canard. According to reports released by the European Commission and United Nations, America has a violence rate of 466 crimes per 100,000 residents, ranking lower than the top ten most violent countries in the world. Who ranked highest? The UK.

    Read about it here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html

  • rlewer

    Could it have something to do with demographics? The crime rate often follows the ratio of people in the 18 – 25 age bracket.

  • rlewer

    Could it have something to do with demographics? The crime rate often follows the ratio of people in the 18 – 25 age bracket.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Three words, looser gun laws, it has become down right dangerous to commit a crime in some states. All but the most desperate or hopped up is going to worry about whether or not they are going to be staring down a barrel. It tends to make one think twice or consider lower risk crimes.

    Increased intelligence aka Big Brother, probably doesn’t hurt either.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Three words, looser gun laws, it has become down right dangerous to commit a crime in some states. All but the most desperate or hopped up is going to worry about whether or not they are going to be staring down a barrel. It tends to make one think twice or consider lower risk crimes.

    Increased intelligence aka Big Brother, probably doesn’t hurt either.

  • kerner

    Wow, Charles! Must be all those soccer hooligans.

    And I thought places like Sweden and Finland were safe, high trust, societies because they have homogenous populations that don’t let in hispanics. yet there they are, ranked 4th and 7th, respectively, while the polyglot USA doesn’t even make the cut to the top 10!

    To be fair, I suspected that Muslim immigrants might explain the situation, and Muslims do make up 4.9% of Sweden’s population. But Muslims make up only 0.8% of Finland’s population, and the Finns are still number 7.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Muslim_population

    And don’t the Finns still score higher than we do on educational tests or something? Another assumption was that highly educated people are safer people. This is very confusing.

    One explanation may be the definition of “violent crime”. I think, based on Charles’ article, that burglary may be included. And the reason for that is that burglary involves home invasion…but usually the homeowners are not home when the burglary occurs. If we broke these statistics down into separate crimes, the results might be less surprising. But only a little less. That is still a lot of crime in Europe, and I did not expect it.

    Some random thoughts about the decline in US crime. Could it be that the “war on drugs” may actually be bearing some fruit? Could it be that the “culture war” (i.e. the attempts by Christians to exert influence over the general culture and elevate its moral tone) may actually be bearing fruit? Could it be that Americans, whose young men and women have spent the last 10 years fighting vioent enemies abroad, are less intimidated by and less tolerant of violent criminals at home and are more prone to “get involved” as it were? Or are they more likely to view bearers of the sword (police) at home more favorably, having been “bearers of the sword” abroad?

    As I said, just random thoughts, I have no statistics, but what do the rest of you think?

  • kerner

    Wow, Charles! Must be all those soccer hooligans.

    And I thought places like Sweden and Finland were safe, high trust, societies because they have homogenous populations that don’t let in hispanics. yet there they are, ranked 4th and 7th, respectively, while the polyglot USA doesn’t even make the cut to the top 10!

    To be fair, I suspected that Muslim immigrants might explain the situation, and Muslims do make up 4.9% of Sweden’s population. But Muslims make up only 0.8% of Finland’s population, and the Finns are still number 7.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Muslim_population

    And don’t the Finns still score higher than we do on educational tests or something? Another assumption was that highly educated people are safer people. This is very confusing.

    One explanation may be the definition of “violent crime”. I think, based on Charles’ article, that burglary may be included. And the reason for that is that burglary involves home invasion…but usually the homeowners are not home when the burglary occurs. If we broke these statistics down into separate crimes, the results might be less surprising. But only a little less. That is still a lot of crime in Europe, and I did not expect it.

    Some random thoughts about the decline in US crime. Could it be that the “war on drugs” may actually be bearing some fruit? Could it be that the “culture war” (i.e. the attempts by Christians to exert influence over the general culture and elevate its moral tone) may actually be bearing fruit? Could it be that Americans, whose young men and women have spent the last 10 years fighting vioent enemies abroad, are less intimidated by and less tolerant of violent criminals at home and are more prone to “get involved” as it were? Or are they more likely to view bearers of the sword (police) at home more favorably, having been “bearers of the sword” abroad?

    As I said, just random thoughts, I have no statistics, but what do the rest of you think?

  • kerner

    One more thing; some violent crimes, such as sexual assault and especially domestic violence, are reported at much higher levels that they were decades ago. Therefore, the drop off in other violent crimes must be even sharper than these statistics indicate.

  • kerner

    One more thing; some violent crimes, such as sexual assault and especially domestic violence, are reported at much higher levels that they were decades ago. Therefore, the drop off in other violent crimes must be even sharper than these statistics indicate.

  • MarkB

    I have no statistics to throw out there, but I don’t believe that the I-75 corridor in Michigan has seen the benefit of this drop in crime. At least not the crimes like shootings and murders.

  • MarkB

    I have no statistics to throw out there, but I don’t believe that the I-75 corridor in Michigan has seen the benefit of this drop in crime. At least not the crimes like shootings and murders.

  • Cincinnatus

    kerner@6:

    First of all, you undermined the premise for the first half of your argument when you noticed that the Scandinavian countries have been veritably invaded by Muslim immigrants, who are responsible for a vast majority of violent crimes committed in those nations. Britain has a similar problem with central Asians and Muslims who, unlike American Muslim immigrants, are primarily poor and poorly educated (and are more often extremists). Britain also has an unruly youth population in general. Wander the streets of any mid-sized city in Britain on an average Saturday night: scary stuff. As it turns out, homogeneous, white, highly-educated, (post-)Christian populations do tend to commit fewer crimes against one another. The statistic that Europeans like to trot out isn’t violent crime rates but murder rates. On the latter, the United States usually “wins.” As it happens, it’s easier to kill someone with a gun than a knife. (No, I’m not covertly arguing for gun control.)

    As for the rest of your comment, kerner, let’s break it down:

    1) “Could it be that the ‘war on drugs’ may actually be bearing some fruit?”

    No. The War on Drugs is almost universally regarded as a failure, in terms of cost, methods, and results, by most policy analysts on “both” sides of the aisle. This is the consensus that is being reached in Latin America as well. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees with the notion that the War on Drugs has actually dramatically increased violent crime, especially in American inner cities and basically all of Mexico.

    2) “Could it be that the ‘culture war’ (i.e. the attempts by Christians to exert influence over the general culture and elevate its moral tone) may actually be bearing fruit?”

    Huh? Rhetorical and ill-fated political attempts to stifle abortion, gay marriage, pornography, fornication, etc., have led to a decrease in murders and other violent crimes? If you say so. Personally, I’ve never heard Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell rant about the need for stronger murder laws, but I could be missing something. Enough with the war talk, though.

    3) “Could it be that Americans, whose young men and women have spent the last 10 years fighting vioent enemies abroad, are less intimidated by and less tolerant of violent criminals at home and are more prone to ‘get involved’ as it were?”

    What does this even mean? Are you referring only to the several hundred-thousand uniformed servicemen who have served in Iraq and elsewhere? What do you mean by “getting involved, as it were”? How? What do you mean by “being less intimidated by” violent criminals? Has there been a rash of Iraq veterans standing up to would-be murderers in the streets or something? Because we enjoyed video of “shock and awe” in Baghdad so much we’ve been inspired to launch precision weapons into our ghettos? This entire hypothesis is just confusing to me.

    4) “Or are they more likely to view bearers of the sword (police) at home more favorably, having been ‘bearers of the sword’ abroad?”

    This one also confuses me. First, are you suggesting that most of our armed policemen were veterans of the War on Terror? Second, are you suggesting that the police were simply moping around refusing to fight crime because people didn’t like them until recently?

    In short, kerner, I don’t think any of your explanations for reduced violent crimes are tenable. I’d be more inclined to believe that these statistics have been manipulated than to believe that the War on Drugs has done anything to make our streets safer.

  • Cincinnatus

    kerner@6:

    First of all, you undermined the premise for the first half of your argument when you noticed that the Scandinavian countries have been veritably invaded by Muslim immigrants, who are responsible for a vast majority of violent crimes committed in those nations. Britain has a similar problem with central Asians and Muslims who, unlike American Muslim immigrants, are primarily poor and poorly educated (and are more often extremists). Britain also has an unruly youth population in general. Wander the streets of any mid-sized city in Britain on an average Saturday night: scary stuff. As it turns out, homogeneous, white, highly-educated, (post-)Christian populations do tend to commit fewer crimes against one another. The statistic that Europeans like to trot out isn’t violent crime rates but murder rates. On the latter, the United States usually “wins.” As it happens, it’s easier to kill someone with a gun than a knife. (No, I’m not covertly arguing for gun control.)

    As for the rest of your comment, kerner, let’s break it down:

    1) “Could it be that the ‘war on drugs’ may actually be bearing some fruit?”

    No. The War on Drugs is almost universally regarded as a failure, in terms of cost, methods, and results, by most policy analysts on “both” sides of the aisle. This is the consensus that is being reached in Latin America as well. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees with the notion that the War on Drugs has actually dramatically increased violent crime, especially in American inner cities and basically all of Mexico.

    2) “Could it be that the ‘culture war’ (i.e. the attempts by Christians to exert influence over the general culture and elevate its moral tone) may actually be bearing fruit?”

    Huh? Rhetorical and ill-fated political attempts to stifle abortion, gay marriage, pornography, fornication, etc., have led to a decrease in murders and other violent crimes? If you say so. Personally, I’ve never heard Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell rant about the need for stronger murder laws, but I could be missing something. Enough with the war talk, though.

    3) “Could it be that Americans, whose young men and women have spent the last 10 years fighting vioent enemies abroad, are less intimidated by and less tolerant of violent criminals at home and are more prone to ‘get involved’ as it were?”

    What does this even mean? Are you referring only to the several hundred-thousand uniformed servicemen who have served in Iraq and elsewhere? What do you mean by “getting involved, as it were”? How? What do you mean by “being less intimidated by” violent criminals? Has there been a rash of Iraq veterans standing up to would-be murderers in the streets or something? Because we enjoyed video of “shock and awe” in Baghdad so much we’ve been inspired to launch precision weapons into our ghettos? This entire hypothesis is just confusing to me.

    4) “Or are they more likely to view bearers of the sword (police) at home more favorably, having been ‘bearers of the sword’ abroad?”

    This one also confuses me. First, are you suggesting that most of our armed policemen were veterans of the War on Terror? Second, are you suggesting that the police were simply moping around refusing to fight crime because people didn’t like them until recently?

    In short, kerner, I don’t think any of your explanations for reduced violent crimes are tenable. I’d be more inclined to believe that these statistics have been manipulated than to believe that the War on Drugs has done anything to make our streets safer.

  • ken schafer

    Isn’t it a fact that though we Chrsitians fumble and bumble about to some good effects that we can be confident that God’s right hand and the church do? Optimism should prevail in the church so that God’s working of the lefthand can be accomplished. Realistically the secular order (lefthand of the two kindoms) can only restrain and can never produce what the righthanded kingdom does even to the consumation.

  • ken schafer

    Isn’t it a fact that though we Chrsitians fumble and bumble about to some good effects that we can be confident that God’s right hand and the church do? Optimism should prevail in the church so that God’s working of the lefthand can be accomplished. Realistically the secular order (lefthand of the two kindoms) can only restrain and can never produce what the righthanded kingdom does even to the consumation.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    #1 Increased incarceration
    #2 Ageing population (fewer young men)
    #3 Concealed Carry laws

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    #1 Increased incarceration
    #2 Ageing population (fewer young men)
    #3 Concealed Carry laws

  • DonS

    I think Pastor Spomer nailed it @ 11. It was what I was going to write — at least the first two points. I agree with concealed carry laws, but it is undisputed that crime rates have dropped as well in places like California, where concealed carry permits are almost impossible to get. Greater percentages of gun ownership, i.e. guns in the home, have probably modestly contributed to the crime rate decline, however.

    The two major factors are demographics and high rates of incarceration. This graph: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._incarceration_rates_1925_onwards.png is telling. Since 1975, the U.S. incarceration rate has risen from 100 to 500 per 100,000, a 500% increase. Two main reasons for this increase — drug laws and third strike laws.

    So, are high incarceration rates a good thing? Is imprisoning .5% of the population worth the resultant reduction in crime rates? Well, I think long prison terms for repeat offenders are a good thing, but the war on drugs and its resultant impact on public budgets and individual liberties needs to be re-thought.

  • DonS

    I think Pastor Spomer nailed it @ 11. It was what I was going to write — at least the first two points. I agree with concealed carry laws, but it is undisputed that crime rates have dropped as well in places like California, where concealed carry permits are almost impossible to get. Greater percentages of gun ownership, i.e. guns in the home, have probably modestly contributed to the crime rate decline, however.

    The two major factors are demographics and high rates of incarceration. This graph: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._incarceration_rates_1925_onwards.png is telling. Since 1975, the U.S. incarceration rate has risen from 100 to 500 per 100,000, a 500% increase. Two main reasons for this increase — drug laws and third strike laws.

    So, are high incarceration rates a good thing? Is imprisoning .5% of the population worth the resultant reduction in crime rates? Well, I think long prison terms for repeat offenders are a good thing, but the war on drugs and its resultant impact on public budgets and individual liberties needs to be re-thought.

  • Cincinnatus

    Pastor Spomer@11:

    I’m skeptical, too, of your suggestions, with the exception of #2, which I think is quite interesting.

    #1: The reason that the United States “boasts” such a large (and expensive) prison population is that we incarcerate a staggeringly large number of non-violent offenders for things like marijuana possession, etc. For this, we can thank the War on Drugs. In order for your suggestion to be valid, it would have to be the case that a substantial proportion of these criminals being locked up for non-violent (drug) crimes are the same people who do or would commit violent crimes. If that is the case, apparently we’re quite effective at catching people carrying weed but clumsy when it comes to keeping dangerous people off the streets. Which may say something about our policing priorities…

    #3: As far as I know, the data is mixed, at best, on this idea. Some studies suggest that crime rates decline in states that permit concealed carry, but other studies suggest that there is no correlation and that concealed carry may even increase assaults and other violent crimes. While I have no problem with concealed carry provisions, your argument here is little more than pro-gun rhetoric with no substantive data to corroborate it.

  • Cincinnatus

    Pastor Spomer@11:

    I’m skeptical, too, of your suggestions, with the exception of #2, which I think is quite interesting.

    #1: The reason that the United States “boasts” such a large (and expensive) prison population is that we incarcerate a staggeringly large number of non-violent offenders for things like marijuana possession, etc. For this, we can thank the War on Drugs. In order for your suggestion to be valid, it would have to be the case that a substantial proportion of these criminals being locked up for non-violent (drug) crimes are the same people who do or would commit violent crimes. If that is the case, apparently we’re quite effective at catching people carrying weed but clumsy when it comes to keeping dangerous people off the streets. Which may say something about our policing priorities…

    #3: As far as I know, the data is mixed, at best, on this idea. Some studies suggest that crime rates decline in states that permit concealed carry, but other studies suggest that there is no correlation and that concealed carry may even increase assaults and other violent crimes. While I have no problem with concealed carry provisions, your argument here is little more than pro-gun rhetoric with no substantive data to corroborate it.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    It should be noted that the number of American citizens taking full advantage of their Second Amendment rights has also risen significantly during this same period of time.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    It should be noted that the number of American citizens taking full advantage of their Second Amendment rights has also risen significantly during this same period of time.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Cincinnatus: Get a clue. If a potential criminal looking for victims thinks there is a chance he will get his brains blown out by an armed citizen, he thinks twice.

    This ain’t rocket science.

    Of course, if you want to remain a bleating sheep willing to be killed by wolves, by all means, that is your right.

    But, thankfully, the USA does have a second amendment and many of us take it seriously.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Cincinnatus: Get a clue. If a potential criminal looking for victims thinks there is a chance he will get his brains blown out by an armed citizen, he thinks twice.

    This ain’t rocket science.

    Of course, if you want to remain a bleating sheep willing to be killed by wolves, by all means, that is your right.

    But, thankfully, the USA does have a second amendment and many of us take it seriously.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    The fact that you hide behind a fake name is probably a clue that you are willing to make yourself defenseless in the face of sociopathics in our society.

    Oh, well.

    Man up, guy.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    The fact that you hide behind a fake name is probably a clue that you are willing to make yourself defenseless in the face of sociopathics in our society.

    Oh, well.

    Man up, guy.

  • Cincinnatus

    Rev. Paul McCain@14:

    Could you provide a link or some kind of documentation for that claim and for its connection to declining crime rates? Everyone keeps bringing up the gun rhetoric and, while I am a fan of the Second Amendment, all the scholarly evidence I’ve seen on the topic is, at best, non-definitive. There is no decisive evidence that concealed-carry, looser gun regulations, etc., have anything to do with reduced violent crime–and the topic has been rigorously investigated.

    For that matter, I’m skeptical that more Americans are “taking full advantage of their Second Amendment rights”–by which I assume you mean purchasing and using personal firearms. I know for a fact that firearm-related activities like hunting have experienced sharp declines in participation in the past few decades, even as the American population has increased over that same period. Anecdotally, I am apparently a relative rarity among my generation in both owning and knowing how to use competently a firearm (er, firearms). Even a generation or so ago, most males, at the very least, would have had working knowledge of firearms.

    In short, could you demonstrate your claim(s)?

  • Cincinnatus

    Rev. Paul McCain@14:

    Could you provide a link or some kind of documentation for that claim and for its connection to declining crime rates? Everyone keeps bringing up the gun rhetoric and, while I am a fan of the Second Amendment, all the scholarly evidence I’ve seen on the topic is, at best, non-definitive. There is no decisive evidence that concealed-carry, looser gun regulations, etc., have anything to do with reduced violent crime–and the topic has been rigorously investigated.

    For that matter, I’m skeptical that more Americans are “taking full advantage of their Second Amendment rights”–by which I assume you mean purchasing and using personal firearms. I know for a fact that firearm-related activities like hunting have experienced sharp declines in participation in the past few decades, even as the American population has increased over that same period. Anecdotally, I am apparently a relative rarity among my generation in both owning and knowing how to use competently a firearm (er, firearms). Even a generation or so ago, most males, at the very least, would have had working knowledge of firearms.

    In short, could you demonstrate your claim(s)?

  • Cincinnatus

    Paul@15 and 16: Um…ok? I’m going to have to assume you haven’t read my most recent response to your comment@14. But even if you haven’t, what was the purpose for your pointless insults?

    “Get a clue”? About what? While you (and others) have been spouting rhetoric about guns and how manly and safe they make us, I’ve been citing (if not by name) scholarly articles and statistics.

    “Man up”? How? By buying a gun? Already have one. I’ve killed stuff with it too. Are my internet cojones big enough yet? By being a more brainless, guttural advocate of anything that involves shooting?

    “The fact that you hide behind a fake name is probably a clue that you are willing to make yourself defenseless in the face of sociopathics in our society.” This is quite funny, but what does it even mean? Are you suggesting that I am in favor of stricter gun regulations or that I somehow side with “the badguys”? I don’t. And what do either of those insinuations have to do with my avatar on this blog? How about “Dr. Luther in the 21st Century” above? I’m assuming that this commenter is neither Martin Luther or Martin Luther King, Jr. Does he need to “man up”? Is he just putting on airs in his full-throated clarion call for looser gun regulations–because, after all, anyone who uses a fake name on the internet is a girly man who wants to render himself “defenseless in the face of sociopathics [sic].”

    Get a clue. Or something. All I’m asking is that you provide some definitive evidence that concealed carry laws and the like have a tangible impact on the crime rate. I’m in favor of both the Second Amendment and lower violent crime rates, but I’ve seen no convincing evidence that the two are correlated. Sorry for being an effeminate sheep waiting to be devoured by wolves.

  • Cincinnatus

    Paul@15 and 16: Um…ok? I’m going to have to assume you haven’t read my most recent response to your comment@14. But even if you haven’t, what was the purpose for your pointless insults?

    “Get a clue”? About what? While you (and others) have been spouting rhetoric about guns and how manly and safe they make us, I’ve been citing (if not by name) scholarly articles and statistics.

    “Man up”? How? By buying a gun? Already have one. I’ve killed stuff with it too. Are my internet cojones big enough yet? By being a more brainless, guttural advocate of anything that involves shooting?

    “The fact that you hide behind a fake name is probably a clue that you are willing to make yourself defenseless in the face of sociopathics in our society.” This is quite funny, but what does it even mean? Are you suggesting that I am in favor of stricter gun regulations or that I somehow side with “the badguys”? I don’t. And what do either of those insinuations have to do with my avatar on this blog? How about “Dr. Luther in the 21st Century” above? I’m assuming that this commenter is neither Martin Luther or Martin Luther King, Jr. Does he need to “man up”? Is he just putting on airs in his full-throated clarion call for looser gun regulations–because, after all, anyone who uses a fake name on the internet is a girly man who wants to render himself “defenseless in the face of sociopathics [sic].”

    Get a clue. Or something. All I’m asking is that you provide some definitive evidence that concealed carry laws and the like have a tangible impact on the crime rate. I’m in favor of both the Second Amendment and lower violent crime rates, but I’ve seen no convincing evidence that the two are correlated. Sorry for being an effeminate sheep waiting to be devoured by wolves.

  • steve

    Stronger law-enforcement policies such as three-strikes and zero-tolerance policies mean that the incarceration rate has increased five-fold over the past 20 years. This has to have a huge impact on the current crime rates but it’s also a somewhat unsustainable solution.

    Another factor that has been raised is the elimination of lead in consumer products; most notably paint and gasoline. Studies have posited that childhood lead exposure lead to an increase in violent behavior in adulthood. Since the biggest push to eliminate the incidents of lead exposure can in the 1970′s, and since crime is highest among teen and young adult males, it would make sense that crime rates would begin to fall in the mid-1990′s.

  • steve

    Stronger law-enforcement policies such as three-strikes and zero-tolerance policies mean that the incarceration rate has increased five-fold over the past 20 years. This has to have a huge impact on the current crime rates but it’s also a somewhat unsustainable solution.

    Another factor that has been raised is the elimination of lead in consumer products; most notably paint and gasoline. Studies have posited that childhood lead exposure lead to an increase in violent behavior in adulthood. Since the biggest push to eliminate the incidents of lead exposure can in the 1970′s, and since crime is highest among teen and young adult males, it would make sense that crime rates would begin to fall in the mid-1990′s.

  • steve

    ^^ sorry for the typos.

  • steve

    ^^ sorry for the typos.

  • kerner

    Cinncinnatus @9:

    Hm. I wasn’t really making an argument. More like I was thinking out loud. I knew my third paragraph @6 undercut my second. Although the percentage of Muslims in Finnland is the same (0.8%) as the percentage of Muslims in the USA, yet the otherwise ethnically homogenous Finns still are ranked 7th; and I still don’t have an explanation for that. And I was about to criticize some of the bellicose responses to your comments, but then I noticed that your own comments are a little strident themselves. I think you are so committed to your long held positions that you refuse to reconsider objectively (not that you are the only one around here who does that).

    The things i mentioned were not intended to be full fledged explanations. I just wanted to suggest that they should be considered as possible contributing factors. I still think they might be.

    Take the war on drugs. Has it wiped out the drug trade? Far from it. But as a result, law enforcement generally has become more aggressive, and more people connected with said drug trade are incarcerated. You can argue all day long that the costs of the drug war outweigh the benefits, and I might even agree with you. But I think denying that anything good has come of the drug war is just being narrow and doctrinaire.

    This is likewise true of your analysis of the “culture war” Whether you approve of the sometimes strident, and often legalistic, best known specific pronouncements of the religious right, I again think you are failing to see the big picture. 30-40 years ago, our culture had no respect for the American military or for any traditional virtues at all. And our art of that time reflected that. The protagonists of books and movies were anti-heros. Thieves, drug dealers, and even pimps were seen as the good guys being harrassed by the corrupt and repressive police. In so far as the general message of the so-called culture warriors is that there are such things as right and wrong, and that people should admire those who do, or try to do, right, and comdemn those who unrepentently do wrong. you may pooh-pooh the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and I have plenty of disagreements with them myself, but I think their “rhetorical and ill-fated attempts to stifle abortion” have preserved, and even raised the level of, respect for innocent life in American culture. They have even raised the level of respect for so-called family values, even if Americans frequently don’t practice them very well. Do I think that vigorous advocacy for virtue, respect for life, and respect for the family might have the effect of generally depressing violent crime? I do, and I do say so. You aren’t likely to see a statistical cause and effect necessarily. But I do think that people as a group are capable of picking up on general principles and applying them to their lives in a general way.

    As for the “war talk”, once again you are limiting your analysis to direct causes and effects, when I wasn’t talking about that. Wars generate the practice of (and respect for) virtues that are not necessarily found in other environments. Physical courage, valor, honor, self sacrifice, even teamwork and community spirit are virtues that can thrive in an environment of conflict. Plenty of vices can thrive there too, but a culture that respects the “fighting virtues” is less likely to tolerate violent crime. People in general, not just Iraq War veterans, will have the courage to do some small thing (like call the police instead of looking the other way) when courage is recognized as a virtue.

    I am not suggesting that this is a simplistic explanation for the drop-off in crime. But I think it may be one of many factors. Ironically, there is an entirely distinct subset of this culture that is teaching a “zero tolerance” for violence of any kind, almost to the point of absurdity (the boy who was disciplined for pointing a “gun-shaped” slice of pizza at his grade school classmate leaps to mind). This may be a factor too. As may be the percentage of 18-25 year olds, or the prison population.

    Or even the general attitude that generates loosened restrictions on gun ownership. Never mind whether there are very many instances of civilians carrying concealed weapons who actually shoot a criminal. The fact that a culture adopts a law that allows for the possibility means that a great many private citizens are willing to take some action personally to prevent crime. When such an attitude is prevalent enough, I would expect crime rates to decrease, even if there are very few instances of private citizens actually drawing guns on the street.

  • kerner

    Cinncinnatus @9:

    Hm. I wasn’t really making an argument. More like I was thinking out loud. I knew my third paragraph @6 undercut my second. Although the percentage of Muslims in Finnland is the same (0.8%) as the percentage of Muslims in the USA, yet the otherwise ethnically homogenous Finns still are ranked 7th; and I still don’t have an explanation for that. And I was about to criticize some of the bellicose responses to your comments, but then I noticed that your own comments are a little strident themselves. I think you are so committed to your long held positions that you refuse to reconsider objectively (not that you are the only one around here who does that).

    The things i mentioned were not intended to be full fledged explanations. I just wanted to suggest that they should be considered as possible contributing factors. I still think they might be.

    Take the war on drugs. Has it wiped out the drug trade? Far from it. But as a result, law enforcement generally has become more aggressive, and more people connected with said drug trade are incarcerated. You can argue all day long that the costs of the drug war outweigh the benefits, and I might even agree with you. But I think denying that anything good has come of the drug war is just being narrow and doctrinaire.

    This is likewise true of your analysis of the “culture war” Whether you approve of the sometimes strident, and often legalistic, best known specific pronouncements of the religious right, I again think you are failing to see the big picture. 30-40 years ago, our culture had no respect for the American military or for any traditional virtues at all. And our art of that time reflected that. The protagonists of books and movies were anti-heros. Thieves, drug dealers, and even pimps were seen as the good guys being harrassed by the corrupt and repressive police. In so far as the general message of the so-called culture warriors is that there are such things as right and wrong, and that people should admire those who do, or try to do, right, and comdemn those who unrepentently do wrong. you may pooh-pooh the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and I have plenty of disagreements with them myself, but I think their “rhetorical and ill-fated attempts to stifle abortion” have preserved, and even raised the level of, respect for innocent life in American culture. They have even raised the level of respect for so-called family values, even if Americans frequently don’t practice them very well. Do I think that vigorous advocacy for virtue, respect for life, and respect for the family might have the effect of generally depressing violent crime? I do, and I do say so. You aren’t likely to see a statistical cause and effect necessarily. But I do think that people as a group are capable of picking up on general principles and applying them to their lives in a general way.

    As for the “war talk”, once again you are limiting your analysis to direct causes and effects, when I wasn’t talking about that. Wars generate the practice of (and respect for) virtues that are not necessarily found in other environments. Physical courage, valor, honor, self sacrifice, even teamwork and community spirit are virtues that can thrive in an environment of conflict. Plenty of vices can thrive there too, but a culture that respects the “fighting virtues” is less likely to tolerate violent crime. People in general, not just Iraq War veterans, will have the courage to do some small thing (like call the police instead of looking the other way) when courage is recognized as a virtue.

    I am not suggesting that this is a simplistic explanation for the drop-off in crime. But I think it may be one of many factors. Ironically, there is an entirely distinct subset of this culture that is teaching a “zero tolerance” for violence of any kind, almost to the point of absurdity (the boy who was disciplined for pointing a “gun-shaped” slice of pizza at his grade school classmate leaps to mind). This may be a factor too. As may be the percentage of 18-25 year olds, or the prison population.

    Or even the general attitude that generates loosened restrictions on gun ownership. Never mind whether there are very many instances of civilians carrying concealed weapons who actually shoot a criminal. The fact that a culture adopts a law that allows for the possibility means that a great many private citizens are willing to take some action personally to prevent crime. When such an attitude is prevalent enough, I would expect crime rates to decrease, even if there are very few instances of private citizens actually drawing guns on the street.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Any ideas for why the crime rate has been going down?

    We have the highest incarceration rate in the world.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Any ideas for why the crime rate has been going down?

    We have the highest incarceration rate in the world.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Take the war on drugs. Has it wiped out the drug trade? Far from it. But as a result, law enforcement generally has become more aggressive, and more people connected with said drug trade are incarcerated. You can argue all day long that the costs of the drug war outweigh the benefits, and I might even agree with you. But I think denying that anything good has come of the drug war is just being narrow and doctrinaire.

    Yeah, our drug policies have allowed law enforcement to flush out the criminally inclined and incarcerate them while they are still young and most likely to commit crimes. It would be interesting to know what percentage of 18-25 year old males are incarcerated.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Take the war on drugs. Has it wiped out the drug trade? Far from it. But as a result, law enforcement generally has become more aggressive, and more people connected with said drug trade are incarcerated. You can argue all day long that the costs of the drug war outweigh the benefits, and I might even agree with you. But I think denying that anything good has come of the drug war is just being narrow and doctrinaire.

    Yeah, our drug policies have allowed law enforcement to flush out the criminally inclined and incarcerate them while they are still young and most likely to commit crimes. It would be interesting to know what percentage of 18-25 year old males are incarcerated.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    So, are high incarceration rates a good thing?

    Yes.

    Is imprisoning .5% of the population worth the resultant reduction in crime rates?

    Yes.

    I don’t want my sons murdered or your daughters raped.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    So, are high incarceration rates a good thing?

    Yes.

    Is imprisoning .5% of the population worth the resultant reduction in crime rates?

    Yes.

    I don’t want my sons murdered or your daughters raped.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • steve

    sg #28, there’s your tax money hard at work. The notable thing is the parents trying to take their kids back to Africa to escape the violence. I’ll betcha dollars to doughnuts we’ll be seeing an article in the not too distant future about the spread of gang violence in Africa due to relocation of African youth from the US back to Africa. That’s the El Salvadore effect.

  • steve

    sg #28, there’s your tax money hard at work. The notable thing is the parents trying to take their kids back to Africa to escape the violence. I’ll betcha dollars to doughnuts we’ll be seeing an article in the not too distant future about the spread of gang violence in Africa due to relocation of African youth from the US back to Africa. That’s the El Salvadore effect.


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