I linked to a journalist in Durham who was discussing the fact that more than 80% of homicides in Durham were committed with guns. I asked her, quite reasonably, what were the percentages of criminals involved?
There’s two key pieces of data that you haven’t told us. What was the prior criminal record status of the victims and killers?
I’ve done the research on the 2010 Raleigh murders and it was very enlightening.
Sean, [Scroll down, you can’t link to individual comments, ed]
Thanks for your feedback and for sharing your article. Prior criminal record was not part of the records analyzed for this particular article about homicide in Durham.
That seems odd. It’s hard to discuss criminal violence without discussing the criminal element of the violence. Ignoring the fact that on average more than half of the victims and about 2/3rds of the killers are previously convicted criminals might mislead the unsuspecting reader away from the perfectly obvious conclusion that murder is an ordinary hazard of engaging in the criminal drug trade.
Homicide is not evenly distributed among the population. The average person, not engaged in crime and not intimately associated with criminals, relatively unlikely to be killed or injured in criminal violence. When people ignore the fact that homicide is generally confined to the criminal classes they start making unwarranted conclusions. They start to blame the weapon used instead of the hand that wielded that weapon. Failure to honestly discuss all the factors involved in a problem leads to promotion of ineffective our counterproductive “solutions” being offered for that problem.
I believe that if you check, you will find that the numbers from Durham will mirror the numbers from Raleigh. You will find that most of the murders, even a disturbing percentage of the ones labeled as “domestic,” are committed by and committed against previously convicted criminals.
We’ve always known what drives criminal violence. It isn’t the weapon, but the motives. The majority of killings in our society revolve around the use and distribution of illegal drugs. Because drug dealers can’t resolve their problems in court like a legal business would, violence is used to settle disagreements. Like any other arena where violence is the solution of choice, those quickest to use violence and the most ruthless in application of that violence will win. Failure to confront this obvious reality leads to bad policy choices on our part.
If you want to reduce all violence, gun violence included, you need to deal with the root causes. Drug prohibition is no different than the more famous alcohol Prohibition. Al Capone and his rivals killed each other in carload lots, but since Prohibition was lifted you don’t see Jim Beam and Jack Daniels shooting it out on city streets, do you? If Jim Beam and Jack Daniels have a dispute, they can sue each other. It’s messy and expensive, but people don’t end up dead in the streets. That avenue of dispute resolution is not open to drug dealers.
The drug trade is the root cause of the majority of the violence we see in society. The war on guns is merely a proxy war in the war on drugs. Rather than confront the reality of violence or the reality of this country’s failed drug control policy, people want to blame the guns. This is because it is easier to blame guns and pass laws against people like me who will follow them than it is to deal with the root causes. My suggestion is that you focus on the causes, rather than the symptoms. Instead of killing an alligator, you should drain the swamp.
I’ll keep you posted as to her reply. I am not hopeful, however. She’s a working on a documentary about “gun violence.”
Leanora is working on a short documentary film about gun homicide and taking classes toward a continuing education certificate in video documentary arts from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina
Usually when they get far enough into it that they are making documentaries, they aren’t reachable.
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