Mayors Discover Data Surprise: Most “Gun Violence” Involves Repeat Offenders
On February 20, 2023, the Hartford Courant published a story by Edmund H. Mahony titled: CT mayors wrestle with what data show is at root of gun violence: Chronic repeat offenders.
MSN.com picked up the article and published it online. The article portrayed data compiled by the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. The data came from arrest records for the Harford and Waterbury police departments from January 2019 through part of 2021. The article portrayed the findings as “startling statistical analysis”. From msn.com:
Last week at the state Capitol, Woods joined Connecticut’s big city mayors, who departed from the new decriminalization orthodoxy to push a package of proposed laws that would enhance bail and sentencing laws as they apply to repeat gun criminals. They backed up the legislative pitch with a startling statistical analysis of gun crimes that shows most gun criminals are chronic reoffenders who are committing second and third offenses while released on bail or probation.
The mayors, all Democrats, arrived with the statistics and an array of inner city supporters, including mothers with emotional stories about murdered children.
To those who have been following Second Amendment issues, this is nothing new. It has been known for decades. In Don Kates seminal book Restricting Handguns, the Liberal Skeptics Speak Out, the categorization of the murderer as tiny, highly unusual segment of society was explained in 1976 (p. 106). David Kennedy has been explaining this statistical reality since the 1990s. The concept was used successfully in operation Ceasefire in 1996, and has been duplicated many times.
The success of the Ceasefire type operations depends on maintaining an intense effort of working with the communities to target the tiny minority of violent repeat offenders. Success appears to fade after time dulls the urgency which created the program.
This correspondent has written about David Kennedy’s work several times. In 2014, in an article about open carry in Milwaukee. From David Kennedy:
“We now know that homicide and gun violence are overwhelmingly concentrated among serious offenders operating in groups: gangs, drug crews, and the like representing under half of one percent of a city’s population who commit half to three-quarters of all murders.”
Alert readers see how successful those pushing the Orwellian term “gun violence” have been. Above in the quote, Kennedy uses “Gun Violence” as synonymous with violent crimes in which guns are used. Those who popularized the term “Gun Violence” in the media have deliberately included suicide and accidents, significantly different phenomena, to triple the numbers of “victims.” This appears to have been done to avoid discussion of falling homicide rates coincided with considerable increases in per capital numbers of firearms. Suicides outnumber homicides two to one. A rising suicide rate is being used to push for more infringements on rights protected by the Second Amendment, even though the percent of suicides committed with guns has been falling. A further conflation of “Gun Violence” with gun crime, as used by criminologists, is shown in the Hartford Courant article under discussion:
Hartford data drawn from 345 gun violence incidents between January 2019 and March 2021 shows that 85% of the suspects arrested for gun crimes had been convicted of gun crimes previously.
Last year, of the 44 people arrested in Hartford for murders or attempted murders with guns, 39% had charges pending from other crimes, but had been released from custody after posting bond. Fifteen percent were on probation. Five percent were on parole. Of those arrested last year, 39% had prior convictions for violent felonies or gun crimes.
The victims, according to the data, differ little from their shooters.
As expected, there is the unannounced switch in the definition of “gun violence.” The term is used to conflate criminal violence with suicide, in order to push polices to restrict gun ownership and access. When State Representative Steven Staftstrom (D), chairman of Judicial committee, uses the term “gun violence” in the Hartford Courant article, he is referring to studies which explicitly include suicide and accidents:
“States like Connecticut that have stronger gun control laws but are smart on criminal justice have vastly lower rates of gun violence than states that are just tough on crime and may have more lax gun laws,” Staftstrom said. “That’s why the committee’s focus has really been on access to firearms, particularly over the last several years.”
There are many logical loopholes for Representative Staftstrom to use to defend his lying with statistics. What states are a state “like Connecticut”? Was he refering to Montana or Maryland? Does the District of Columbia count? How about the U.S. Virgin Islands? What difference does it make to a homicide or suicide victim if another method is substituted for a gun?
Access to firearms only results in higher “gun violence” if you count suicides. Suicides with guns are, statistically, a non-issue in the violent urban centers where homicide has risen recently. A prohibition of one suicide method only results in a switch to other suicide methods, the “substitution” problem. The method used does not predict the rate of suicide. Access to firearms does not translate to higher suicide rates or homicide rates.
Those who want a disarmed society are not interested in the fact that most violent crime is committed by a small number of violent criminals. They want society disarmed. Violent crime is simply a lever they hope to use to sway public opinion toward disarmament.
They no longer have tight control over the flow of information. Articles like the one published in the Hartford Courant educate more people and cause them to question what they have been told about guns. If a small group of criminals are causing most of the problem, why should everyone else be disarmed?
A recent poll showed public opinion has shifted to the point a majority of people are opposed to a ban on semi-automatic rifles proposed by President Biden.
Educated readers may ask: What took them so long?
Answer: Those who want the population disarmed have controlled most of the information flow for 50 years. It is hard to make good decisions with bad information.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.