WHAT WORKS AGAINST VIOLENT CRIME?

(rev 5/2/03)

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Through years of study and trying things, there are people who know what most causes crime.  But politicians have to give the public quick "fixes" that do nothing but distract attention from their impotence, or even make things worse.  The real answers are not in passing more laws supposedly to control those bad people (the criminals, not the politicians).  The things that will work will require commitment, sacrifice and investment from all of us.  What are some of those things that will work?

Try to find information produced by criminologists relative to the causes of crime.  You can get a small hint of what applies in most places by studying this report on the demographic factors that correlate with rates of violent crime in British Columbia, Canada.

1. One of the primary things is that we need essentially everyone to have the wellbeing that comes from national economic wellbeing.  A primary facet of this is that a greater portion of the public needs to be able to earn a "reasonable" living.

   a.  What we think of as this "reasonable living" must come down.  People in general need to be willing to accept a lifestyle less materialistic and self indulgent than what many of us have become accustomed to during the country's boom times, so that others can share what we have.  A person barely "getting by" (or nearly starving) will naturally be very dissatisfied if he looks around and sees people doing much better with little effort, especially if those people are doing things that hold the poor down.  Those with plenty need to be willing to help some those who don't have but are willing to work for it.  And there are going to be a lot of people barely getting by in the future.  Except for jobs involving direct dealings with the public, our population is now having to compete with foreigners who work for "peanuts" and this situation will only get worse because of the fast, inexpensive worldwide transportation and communication.  The fact that our economy has gone through big cycles in the past, but generally recovered from the dips, doesn't mean it must happen that way forever.  Something has happened in our world that had never happened before.  We have become a global economy with cheap, global communication and shipping.  You don't want to believe that life for most people is not going to be as rosy in the future as it has been since the forties.  It is easier to close your eyes.  As we said, the solutions will require sacrifice.

    b.  We must encourage people to obtain good education and training, and not just with words.  People have to know that if they try they will be able to do better.  This means we must have real jobs for people.  Try to avoid helping to force manufacturers to move their factories out of the state, country or your city.  Make sure there is a place they can afford and where they are welcome.  Pristine neighborhoods, pristine environment, and governmental services cost us all taxes and often cost us our industries.  A trained and knowledgable public cannot be achieved some easy way such as by legislating it.  We must be able to think about the issues without our selfishness clouding our judgement.  Do what is right for mankind, not just your self.  There must be incentive for the young and poor to obtain skills and knowledge.

    c.  We must reduce our population.  We especially need to have fewer births to poor and to those who don't want children or don't know what it means to raise children.  Besides the fact that this will reduce overpopulation problems, it will improve the employment situation.  Religions that try to take over the world by populating it will unwittingly turn the world into hell for all of us.  We don't want to legislate birth control like China has, although some laws that discourage having children one can't afford might help.  And laws that encourage having those children must be changed.  The welfare mentality is closely allied to the criminal mentality.  In both cases there is a desire to have without exerting effort.  "I exist; therefore, I deserve to have and, if you don't give it to me, I have a right to take it from someone."

2.  Promote widespread adoption of the original "golden rule" including the teaching of it to our youth both formally and by example.  People need to believe that hurting or taking from others is something they should avoid doing, not just because they may be punished but because it'll make the world better for us all.  Making people good is also something that can't be achieved an easy way such as by legislating it.  Functional families are essential for teaching morals.  Living in broken homes correlates more with becoming criminal than anything else does.

3.  We must reduce the number of people who are addicted to drugs or are at times incapable of making rational judgements or controlling their actions because they are on drugs.  The other things already mentioned will help move us in this direction. We don't know what all it will take, or if what our government is doing is heading us in the right direction.  We would only suggest looking seriously at the big controversy on this, and don't assume that something as easy as passing a law will work.  Banning drugs hasn't worked for quite a few years now.  We may actually have to stop entertaining ourselves once in a while to do the things that need to be done.

4.  Do whatever it takes for you personally not to be a victim of violent crime and to get others to do the same.  A victim is involved in 100% of violent crime.  So we should pass laws to outlaw being a victim, right?  No, outlawing people for being victims would be as stupid as some of the other things our legislators are doing.  But you and all of us can protect ourselves to some extent, and everything we do to protect ourselves will make the work harder and possibly more hazardous for the criminal, and will thereby encourage him or her to take up a new line of work or move to New York City or Washington, DC.

It won't be dramatic change overall unless a lot of us help in it, because doing something about a type of crime in one place, rather than attacking the root causes of crime, for the most part causes criminals just to change where they do crime or change to a different type of crime.  For example, making burglary harder makes incidences of armed robbery increase.  Neighborhood watch just causes criminals to move to a different neighborhood.

Information on crime prevention is available from police departments, libraries, bookstores, etc.  The things to do include things such as: make your home secure, avoid high crime areas; avoid being alone; be alert always and especially in high risk situations; carry a noise maker: and (if legal) carry and learn to use pepper spray, tear gas, and/or a handgun.  Most importantly, accept responsibility for taking care of yourself rather than deluding yourself that you're safe because your area is relatively crime-free or because police protect you.

Decide not to be a victim if you can help it.  Get some self defense training, including training on when to fight and when to run.  Contrary to the stupidity espoused by some, those people who have resisted violent crime with a firearm have been injured less than those who have not resisted, and those who resisted with lesser weapons.  This does not mean that just resisting caused injuries to be less.  Much of the lessening of injury results from the fast thinking, mindset and training of the person who resisted, like the fact that he or she has prepared both mentally and physically for violent situations.  Most people can acquire the mindset and training.

Decide that, if someone were to do something likely to result in your death or the death of some innocent person around you, you would kill the perpetrater first if necessary to prevent his or her killing someone else (assuming that you get the chance).  If you cannot decide within you that you could do this without hesitation, do what you can to avoid hazard and, if you're ever in the hazardous situation with nobody around who's able to help you, you will likely just be raped, beaten, robbed or killed as politicians with guards, security systems and their own gun permits would have you do.

If you decide that the life of a violent criminal is not worth as much as the life of an innocent, good person (or the numerous other people the criminal is likely to kill in the future if you don't stop him/her)—and that you are not going to passively be a victim or stand by and watch someone else being victimized—you might want to get one or more firearms, if it's legal where you live, and learn to own and use them.  If it's not legal where you live, you might want to move where people are allowed to protect themselves.  You'll find that the risk of violent crime will be lower in such places anyway!

You'll be assuming some legal responsibilities you'll have to learn about and deal with.  You'll probably have to pass a safety and/or laws test and you should get legal and tactics training, practice shooting and tactics, and do a lot of thinking about how you would handle various situations.  You'll have to learn how to keep the firearm(s) from being accessed by a child or from being stolen for use by a criminal.

Don't swallow the assertions by gun controllers that you will be safer if you just do whatever an assailant demands rather than resisting.  What they say is true except for the case in which you resist with a firearm.  Study THIS data from the study by Gary Kleck.

Don't expect that it's just a matter of buying a gun.  Don't think that just having it, showing it or firing a warning shot will necessarily make a criminal run.  The criminal might still try to attack you if the criminal is high on drugs or thinks from your shaking or hesitance that you would not pull the trigger.  And don't think that you can just shoot to injure if the person does try to attack you.  You'll have to face the fact that, if you use the gun to protect someone, you may have to shoot someone and, if you do, you will have to shoot to kill just like police do.  Having a firearm for protection is not a thing to go into lightly.

It should be apparent to you now if it wasn't before that reducing crime or violent crime is not a quick, easy thing to do, and that doing so will require commitment, sacrifice and investment by us all.  Expecting that our government will fix the problem hasn't worked and won't work.  We cannot expect government to fix everything with the wave of a law wand.  But, there are some things that are known to help and produce results more quickly.

   a.  A recently completed rigorous study of FBI, state and other data for 1977 through 1994 by University of Chicago criminologist John Lott, Jr. and economist David Mustard shows that high rates of arrest causes major reduction in crime and so does increases in conviction rates.  This same study inexplicably found that laws to lengthen sentences for people using guns in crime had no impact on crime rates.  We don't know if police can legally do more arresting when a crime is committed.  And maybe the correlation with higher arrest rates is really just a correlation with greater police interest and activity.  Help keep your police enthusiastic about their work.  Help them arrest and convict criminals and help them get those criminals actually jailed for times commensurate with the crimes.  Stop tying the police up with the trivial things like investigating skateboarders or "suspicious" minority children, or kids that don't look like you want "hanging out" in your neighborhood.  Free the police from the distractions and encourage them to do the things that are known to really help reduce crime.  For example, a 1992 experiment in Kansas City, Missouri netted dramatic crime reductions by focusing on finding hoods illegally carrying firearms on the streets in specific high violence neighborhoods.  Boston has had great success by focussing on young criminals already vulnerable because of existing court restrictions, checking them often for guns and even pieces of guns or ammunition, and prosecuting them in FEDERAL courts where whatever sentence they receive is not reduced for "good behavior."(program EXILE)

   b.  Help to make it possible for law abiding people to have firearms for protection and even to have them out and about in your city where most crimes occur.  Some woman may be able to prevent herself or her child from being killed or raped because you helped to make it possible for her to carry a firearm.  And your armed neighbor or a stranger may then be able to protect you or your family member.

But, more importantly to society as a whole, the fact that unknown citizens are likely to have firearms at any given time increases the risk for criminals, who will never know if the person they are about to attack may have a gun and know how to use it.  We would all be safer if criminals thought that every citizen was likely to have a firearm on him or her at every time and knew how to use it.  There is only one thing that will make criminals think this.  That is if the law allows it and a lot of people avail themselves of the opportunity to be responsible citizens.

No, people having guns out and about doesn't cause violence to increase.  In fact, just the opposite is true.  Our states (about 37 now) that have "right to carry" laws or practice see their crime rates drop more than those of the states that don't have such laws.  The media reports the case of the old man that pulls a gun and accidentally kills his wife.  It doesn't report the 1-2.7 million annual cases in which a person with a firearm protects someone from a violent crime.

And, no, having a lot of guns around doesn't cause accidental killings or injuries to skyrocket.

Don't swallow the politicians' and some police chiefs' assertions that police can protect you.  They have no legal obligation to do so.  They can't be everywhere at any time, much less all the time.  On the average in the US, each police officer on duty has about 1700 civilians to try to protect.  While you are out and about, approximately one out of every 2000 people you encounter will be a police officer whether or not the officer is on duty.  Of that 2000 people, about five of them are criminals doing criminal violence multiple times in the course of a year.  That's 5 criminals per officer.  Those criminals get to choose the times and places of their attacks, and they don't choose to do it in sight of a uniformed officer.

Don't even expect that police will reach you in time if you are able to summon them.  It's very often that people are victims of violent crime that takes less than 10 minutes to perpetrate, and police response is seldom that fast (and can't be).

Surveys of imprisoned criminals have shown that criminals worry much more about armed citizens than about police.  And, the study mentioned earlier proves that allowing law abiding citizens to carry firearms in public reduces crime, and especially reduces violent crime—and reduces the incidence of rape.  If laws that require the authorities to issue "carry" permits to the law abiding who request them had been adopted by the states that didn't have them in 1992, approximately 1570 murders (7 % reduction), 4177 rapes (4% reduction), 11,900 robberies (2% reduction) and 60,000 serious assaults (6%reduction) would have been avoided every year in the US (vs. only .64 of a life that would have been lost due to some kind of accident or misuse because of someone having a gun as a result of the law).

What can you do to help protect our right to protect ourselves and each other?  Tell your legislators that the people have a right to protect themselves and that we all need that right to be retained and protected.

If you think that you might be interested in using a handgun for protection, you might want to tell those legislators right away and start preparing to get a handgun if it's not already illegal in your jurisdiction.  Gun controllers are pushing for laws that would make it impossible to get a small handgun or even a not-so-small one.  And they are working on other equally stupid legislation.  You may have only a year or two left.


Check out GUNS:  Facts & Fallacies by Dr. Edgar Suter, chair of Doctors for Integrity in Policy Research.

In 1998 the National Institute of Justice, the academic part of the U.S. Department of Justice released report NCJ 171676 "Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's Promising". [alt]

Firearms and Violent Crime:  Old Premises, Current Evidence by Don B. Kates, Jr ('90)

The Value of Civilian Arms Possession as Deterrent to Crime or Defense Against Crime also by Kates [ALT (unformatted)]

Guns and Violence:  A Summary of the Field by professor (criminologist) Gary Kleck ('91) [ALT SITE 1] [ALT SITE 2]

Also bookmark for later reading Violence in America - Effective Solutions also by Dr. Suter. [alt]


Over-Population

Rationalizations to support our desires to keep procreation unfettered are foolish.  Claims that we have no population problem because increasing world population by some factor would still leave each person with a land area of 50 feet by 50 feet (or the like) are stupid.  They ignore the fact that the limitations on the number of people the earth can support are not just a matter of space for people.  The continued life of the whole population of mankind (not just the survivors) depends upon having a large amount of space available for each of us, many other animals and lower forms, and a large amount of vegetation.  It also depends upon all people being able to get the necessities of life without taking them from others, which means that people must all be able to earn a living even while the number of people needed to produce those necessities is only a small fraction of the total population.

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