On April 20, FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate warned a meeting of law enforcement officers that “violence, homicides and aggravated assaults” are now “occurring at an appalling rate” in America: “We’re seeing a disturbing violent crime surge across the country.” The FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data for 2020 (the most recent reporting year) shows that the rates of aggravated assaults, homicides, and overall violent crime jumped significantly between 2019 and 2020.
New research indicates this wave of rising crime is shifting to formerly safe neighborhoods.
Criminologist Dr. John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center examined how the locations of crime have changed during 2019 to 2022, using Los Angeles census and crime statistics. In that city, “the richer and whiter the area, the greater the increase in both raw crime totals and percentages of total city crime,” including violent felonies. “Although poor and minority neighborhoods still experience the largest total number of crimes, including violent crimes such as murder, the shift to relatively safer neighborhoods is pronounced.” For instance, the trend for robberies during the study period indicated that, while the overall rate in the city dipped slightly, it increased significantly in wealthier areas. A 9.7% annual increase occurred “for zip codes where the median house was $1 million to $1.5 million, and 15.2% for zip codes where the median house was $1.5 million to $2 million.” Other kinds of theft, rape, and aggravated assault crimes followed a similar pattern.
The Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Beverly Hills Police Department reportedly failed to respond to questions from the researchers, but possible reasons for these crime trends are the downgrading of certain drug, theft and non-violent felonies to misdemeanors, lax bail laws, “early release” of non-violent offenders, and the phenomenon of gang-driven “crime tourism.”
Although the research focused on Los Angeles specifically, “anecdotal evidence and news reports suggest similar trends may be occurring in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and other cities experiencing crime waves.”
Commenting on the reaction to crime in his city, a Los Angeles district attorney states, “I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and asked if I could recommend a certain kind of firearm. People are signing up for gun training courses, and these are people who never before in their lives ever thought of having a gun.”
President Joe Biden, meanwhile, continues to focus on guns as the cause of violent crime. On April 11, announcing Steven Dettelbach as his latest nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as well as new executive action to restrict unserialized parts and so-called “ghost guns,” the President claimed that last year, “law enforcement reported approximately 20,000 suspected ghost guns to be, to the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives, that’s a tenfold increase in these ghost guns from 2016.” Biden referred to his “comprehensive strategy to supercharge what works” and again pushed Congress to “ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines” and enact further gun control laws.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, responded in a letter regarding the April 11 restrictions and yet “another gun control advocate being put forward for a position that requires respect for the Second Amendment.” Highlighting Dettelbach’s support for “an ‘assault-style’ firearms ban” and “outright favoritism of expansive gun control,” and given the failure of Biden’s prior choice for the ATF job (David Chipman, a senior policy advisor with the anti-gun group Giffords), it was “troubling to see that gun control advocates like Everytown see Mr. Dettelbach’s nomination as ‘doubling down’ after the previous nominee… failed to be confirmed.”
Commenting on the new executive action, Senator Grassley observes that Biden’s statement regarding “20,000 suspected ghost guns” was essentially meaningless, as it failed to distinguish between “suspected” and actual “ghost” guns, or even to disclose “how many crimes were committed using an actual privately made firearm.” According to the FBI, “less than 0.36% of homicides involved ghost guns,” demonstrating that the “Administration’s focus on ghost guns places rhetoric over fact in combating the violent crime surge.”
It’s not the guns; it’s the rise in violent crime, including the “unprecedented 30% spike in murders that began as blue cities pulled their police forces off the streets in the summer of 2020.” Although Democrats “attempted to shift the blame for the rise in violence in blue cities to not only lawful gun owners, but also conservative states,” Sen. Grassley points out that data from 2020 “shows that it is actually the Democrat-led cities within red states that are causing dramatic per capita murder rates.”
“It is disturbing,” he concludes, “to see Democrats refuse to take responsibility for the rising crime rate and find other people to blame, such as lawful firearms owners.”
With crime already a top issue for voters, in the run-up to this year’s midterm elections no one should be surprised to see President Biden continue to hype (as he has time and again) the same tired old gun control talking points, like assault weapon and high-capacity magazine bans that didn’t work and a gun industry immunity that doesn’t exist.