CHICAGO, Ill., April 10 – Chicago’s murder rate dropped to its lowest level since 1958, following the adoption of a concealed carry gun law by Illinois last year. Chicago had some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, and in 2012, Chicago led the nation in murders. But the courts said the tough gun laws violated the Second Amendment, and Illinois was forced to adopt a law allowing concealed carry. Chicago police began accepting applications in January of this year. Anti-gun critics predicted an increase in crime, murder and mayhem. Now Chicago police are reporting the lowest level of crime and murder in decades.
When Illinois passed the law allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed hangduns, it became the last state in the Union to do so. The Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” protected by the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and applies to the states. Then the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Illinois to repeal its law that prohibited concealed carry and gave the state until July 9, 2013 to replace it.
Anti-gun zealots predicted mayhem, warning that high-crime areas, like Chicago, would only see more violence if residents were allowed to carry guns in public. Governor Quinn called the concealed carry bill “extremely disappointing,” saying it “will lead to tragedy” and that “public safety should never be compromised or negotiated away.” He accused the legislature of “surrender[ing]” to the NRA. But the opposite occurred–instead of crime and murder rising, it has decreased.
Chicago has had a significant problem with murder and gun crime. According to the FBI, the U.S. had a national homicide rate of 4.7 per 100,000 people in 2011. Illinois’ homicide rate in 2011 was 6.4 per 100,000, or 136 percent of the national rate. And though during that time it was illegal to carry them, handguns were involved with the vast majority of murders. In 2012, Chicago led the nation with 506 murders. Gun control, evidently, was not working out very well.
However, in the first three months of 2014, Chicago saw six fewer murders than the same time frame in 2013–a nine percent drop–and 55 fewer murders than 2012, making it the lowest first-quarter murder total since 1958. There were 90 fewer shootings and 119 fewer shooting victims, drops of 26 and 29 percent respectively. Compared to the first quarter of 2012, there have been 222 fewer shootings and 292 fewer shooting victims. Overall crime is down 25 percent from last year.
The drop is consistent with academic research that, contrary to gun bullies’ claims, clearly shows that lawful carry of guns by law-abiding citizens reduces and deters crime. It is more guns that leads to more safety, not the other way around. Though this may seem counterintuitive, the findings are confirmed by multiple academic sources. A CDC study ordered by President Obama found lawful carrying of guns was an important deterrent to crime. The CDC study further states that lawful carrying of guns saves lives, noting, “Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.” Research by gun crime experts John Lott, Jr. and David Mustard found that “When state concealed handgun laws went into effect… murders fell by 8.5 percent, and rapes and aggravated assaults fell by five and seven percent.” They state that “more guns mean less crime.”
A Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy study by professors Don Kates and Gary Mauser of 36 developed nations–virtually all of which have stronger gun control than the United States–concludes that higher gun control is consistently associated with higher levels of violent crime and homicide, and low gun restrictions are associated with lower levels of violent crime and less murder. They note, “Whether viewed as a cause or coincidental, the long-term macrocosmic evidence is that gun ownership spread widely throughout societies consistently correlate with stable or declining murder rates” (p.673).
They further state, “Laws whose effect is to reduce gun ownership by law-abiding citizens–the ones who obey gun laws–are futile because these laws do not reduce violence or murder” (p.672). Professors Kates and Mauser state it is a criminologist axiom, verified in virtually every study since at least the 1890s, that average, law-abiding people do not commit murder. Instead, they state that career criminals do: 90 percent of adult murderers have adult criminal records, with multiple prior contacts to the justice system. The same is true with minor offenders. Professors Kates and Mauser state that “there is no reason for laws prohibiting gun possession by ordinary, law-abiding responsible adults, because such people virtually never murder… disarming them becomes not just unproductive, but counter-productive” (p. 670). Laws intended to prevent crime by keeping all citizens from having guns are useless because crime is committed by criminals with history of doing so. Criminals simply do not obey gun laws, as Chicago demonstrates.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago’s police chief credit the drop with changes in police strategies, and do not support the new concealed carry law. Honest researchers will rightly tell us correlation does not equal causation–something anti-gun zealots only seem to remember when it benefits their agenda to do so. However, while we may not rightly say Chicago’s decrease in crime is solely attributable to concealed carry, we can say that concealed carry has not resulted in the increase of crime that the anti-gun rights lobby wrongly predicted. The decrease in crime observed in Chicago is consistent with - and to be expected considering - academic research that clearly shows that lawful gun carrying reduces crime.
By Matt MacBradaigh. Matt is a Christian, Husband, Father, Patriot, and Conservative from the Pacific Northwest. Matt writes about the Second Amendment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Policy issues and is published on The Bell Towers, The Brenner Brief, PolicyMic. TavernKeepers, and Vocativ.
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