The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that the number of firearms purchased in the first half of 2009 was “going through the roof;” in direct comparison, the homicide rate in the United States dropped 10% nationally. The increase in legal gun sales jumped by 30% when compared to legal gun sales for the same time period one year prior.
Gun advocates state that this proves that more weapons among the populace does not increase crime, and in fact, may deter crime. A survey conducted by the National Association of Chiefs of Police among the nation’s police executives found that nearly94% of those queried were for civilian gun ownership. Ninety-six percent of the police chiefs and sheriffs believe that the criminals who commit gun crimes obtain their weapons illegally, and that there weren’t many arrests for violations of the Federally-mandated waiting period. When the police executives were asked if concealed weapons permits would help reduce violent gun crime, 63% of the respondents answered positively.
According to Second Amendment Foundation, a civil rights group, state that this proves violent crime and gun ownership doesn’t have any correlation, and that arming citizens is a deterrent. SAF EVP Alan Gottleib stated;
“What this shows is that gun prohibitionists are all wrong when they argue that more guns result in more crime. Firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens are no threat to anyone. Perhaps violent criminals were actually discouraged by all of those gun sales earlier this year, because the media made a point of reporting the booming gun market.”
The opposite camp, those backing gun control, state that accidental shootings or abuse of firearms rises with an armed populace. However, according to the SAF and Northwestern University School of Law, there are endless studies that there have been between 600,000 and 1 million cases where firearms have been used by citizens to protect themselves and their loved-ones.
However, looking at the data empirically, the drop in crime rate and subsequent rise in gun purchases are in no way related, and the fact that more citizens are armed could not have possibly been known by gun-toting criminals due to the simple fact that the two incidents were occurring simultaneously. Not to mention the fact that the media has access to this type of information, and there weren’t a lot of stories running the past year about victims thwarting criminals by using guns. In fact, the only one to come to light in Chicago was an intended mugging on CTA’s Orange line where the victim turned the tables on his attackers, pulling a knife and stabbing two of the five attackers. As with most criminals, once the odds evened out, and with two of their posse down, the rest of the “men” fled and were later apprehended by police.
Data is simply data. Correlations between two totally unrelated events that seem related sometimes have nothing to do with one another. In this case, it is unlikely; rather, there is a reason that crime fell that had nothing to do with policing, armed citizens, and the like. What that something is has yet to be revealed, but the last major deterrence in crime was actually a result of Roe V. Wade being overthrown, allowing unwed mothers to abort fetuses that they could not hope to raise. This led to a decrease in the number of aimless teenagers, which led to a decrease in crime. (Freakonomics, pp. 5-6, Leavitt and Dubner)
So, although it would be nice to have the answer, we don’t, and may not for a couple of years.