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Concealed carry and Chicago crime

Concealed carry and Chicago crime

Last summer, Illinois became the last state in the Union to grant concealed-carry gun permits to its citizens.  Gun-control advocates warned of a bloodbath in crime-plagued Chicago.  Or maybe it would be better to say they warned the temperature of the constant Chicago bloodbath would be increased considerably by loosening gun laws.

In fact, the exact opposite occurred: Chicago just announced that the first quarter of 2014 had the lowest murder rate since 1958.  As The Blaze observes, it’s much too soon to draw any big conclusions from the effect of a law that didn’t actually result in any concealed-carry permits being issued until over halfway through the quarter… but you can bet your last bullet that if the crime rate had gone up, even slightly, the media would have gone berserk blaming it on concealed-carry law.  Also, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suppose that many members of the criminal-American community didn’t know exactly when citizens would start packing heat – they just know the law changed for 2014 – so there could be a bit of deterrence through anticipation going on in Chicago.

There were 6 fewer murders than the same timeframe in 2013 — a 9 percent drop — and 55 fewer murders than 2012, police said.

Further, there were reportedly 90 fewer shootings and 119 fewer shooting victims compared to last year. There have also been 222 fewer shootings and 292 fewer shooting victims compared to the first quarter in 2012.

All crime is down 25 percent from 2013 and police say they have confiscated over 1,300 illegal guns in the last three months.

Naturally, the authorities don’t want to discuss the possibility that concealed carry played a role:

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called the drop in crime a “trend.” He attributed the drop to the “talent level of individuals” on the police force, “intelligent policing strategies” and other programs. He did not mention the concealed carry law.

To be sure, everything the Superintendent mentioned could have been a factor.  I would leave it to longtime observers of the Chicago scene to conclude if some alchemy of talented individuals, smarter policing strategies, and “other programs” suddenly gelled at the beginning of 2014 to produce a historic decline in the city’s crime rates.

Another problem with drawing any conclusions from Chicago crime data is that some of that data is – not to put too fine a point on it – malarkey.  Chicago Magazine published an expose just this week on how the city tends to adjust its crime statistics by reclassifying murders, which might just have something to do with its “miraculous” drop in crime.  The article begins with the horrible story of 20-year-old Tiara Groves, whose body was found in a vacant warehouse amid abundant evidence that she had been stripped naked, tied to a chair, and murdered… but whose case was reclassified in December into a “noncriminal death investigation” by a police officer who had already been involved in some fishy business involving case files.

Was it just a coincidence, some wondered, that the reclassification occurred less than two weeks before the end of the year, when the city of Chicago’s final homicide numbers for 2013 would be tallied? “They essentially wiped away one of the murders in the city, which is crazy,” says a police insider. “But that’s the kind of s**t that’s going on.”  [Profanity not edited in the original.]

For the case of Tiara Groves is not an isolated one. Chicago conducted a 12-month examination of the Chicago Police Department’s crime statistics going back several years, poring through public and internal police records and interviewing crime victims, criminologists, and police sources of various ranks. We identified 10 people, including Groves, who were beaten, burned, suffocated, or shot to death in 2013 and whose cases were reclassified as death investigations, downgraded to more minor crimes, or even closed as noncriminal incidents—all for illogical or, at best, unclear reasons.

This troubling practice goes far beyond murders, documents and interviews reveal.Chicago found dozens of other crimes, including serious felonies such as robberies, burglaries, and assaults, that were misclassified, downgraded to wrist-slap offenses, or made to vanish altogether. (We’ll examine those next month in part 2 of this special report.)

Many officers of different ranks and from different parts of the city recounted instances in which they were asked or pressured by their superiors to reclassify their incident reports or in which their reports were changed by some invisible hand. One detective refers to the “magic ink”: the power to make a case disappear. Says another: “The rank and file don’t agree with what’s going on. The powers that be are making the changes.”

So we’d have to sponge all the “magic ink” off a larger set of crime statistics before drawing any conclusions about the crime-fighting efficiency of the concealed carry law, beyond noting that the doomsday predictions of gun-control advocates have yet to be realized.  The recent release of yet another study showing that concealed carry has a far more significant positive effect on crime rates than silly gun-control nostrums, such as banning those fabled “assault weapons,” might give us a preview of what the long-term picture in Chicago will look like.

If nothing else, the gun control lobby might begin making some uncomfortable concessions about the difficulty of drawing direct cause-and-effect links between gun laws (either restrictive or permissive) and crime rates… which would do a lot of damage to their cause, since if we’re going to agree that the causes of violent crime are difficult to pin down, it grows much harder to make the case for draconian gun laws.  Liberty and respect for the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms should be our default position, held in the absence of compelling evidence to support government restrictions… shouldn’t it?


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