We panic-bought guns. Homicides are now up. Coincidence?
The LA Times published four short letters on the topic of ‘Gun Violence.’ While this purports to show a ‘balanced’ position on the 2A, it takes four very cookie cutter perspectives on the issue and sums it up with the conclusion that the title puts forward. We panic bought more guns and thus there are more murders…
To the editor: On the front page of the July 6 California section, there were two headlines — “Handgun sales across the state jumped 65.5% amid pandemic,” and, “Bloody weekend leaves more than a dozen killed.”
The U.S. Supreme Court in its 2008 District of Columbia vs. Heller decision held that the Framers’ “originalist” intent was for the 2nd Amendment to give individuals the right to keep and bear arms — meaning, effectively, that we have ready access to firearms so we can just kill each other whenever we choose to. It’s not like there’s any mention in the 2nd Amendment of a “well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state.”
The closest to a so-called militia was led by a shaman ransacking the U.S. Capitol.
Bruce N. Miller, Playa del Rey
To the editor: “Guns fuel deadly surge in L.A.,” a headline in the print edition tells us. Of course. And cars fuel drunk driving, right?
The article further states that 2020 was a “very unusual year for homicides with a small increase in killings in the first half of the year, followed by a dramatic rise in the second.”
Could it perhaps be due to radical changes in attitudes toward police after the “mostly peaceful” demonstrations that started mid-year? Just asking.
Barry DuRon, Oxnard
To the editor: Your articles reporting the spike in handgun sales during the pandemic and the homicides over the Fourth of July weekend make me think there might me a connection there.
Is it possible that the more heavily armed the populace becomes, more people will be killed by the firearms they bear? After all, what else are all those guns for?
John Humble, Santa Monica
To the editor: After years of reading articles in The Times about gun violence, I decided to conduct a scientific experiment during the lockdown.
I closely watched a handgun for 30 days. I kept waiting for it to shoot me and my family and then go after my neighbors. It didn’t. In fact, it never moved.
As such, I have come to the conclusion that a handgun is an inanimate object and is incapable of killing anyone without the intervention of a person.
Perhaps your focus on homicides should be placed on those who kill, because I am now certain that it is not the fault of the handgun any more than it is the fault of a pencil for misspelling a word, or the fault of a fork for one’s weight gain.
Richard Miggins, Toluca Lake
However what this fails to consider is this.
Our national pace for buying guns is up, it is. But it has been up. We haven’t had a decrease in NICS checks per year since 2017 and our crime rates were down and staying down until 2020. There is nothing to explain the three year lag if buying going up equals murders going up. Because correlation doesn’t equal causation.
Now, if we factor in the pandemic and riots? The national shift in attitude towards law enforcement, the rule of law, and legitimacy of authority, all of those factors correlate with an increase in violent criminal activities. Homicides, people getting even with others for perceived wrongs through a slaying, are up but they are up in the demographics we already had a problem with. Those demographics, organized criminals and domestic violent offenders, are prohibited under law already and are not the groups that were panic buying firearms at retail.
The groups doing so where increasingly females and minorities, people who felt vulnerable when law enforcement and government entities repeatedly failed to demonstrate their ability to keep individuals safe from the violent predation. Opportunistic criminality thrived under the lockdowns, we need only look as far as the PPP loan fraud to see the attitude on that.
So unless the premise is that there was a magic number of firearms being bought in a year, but hadn’t been hit in any of the previous years of record sales, and we tripped that magic murder number, I do not understand the causation they are trying to imply. There is no solid backing for the correlation to be pushed to causation. We have no flow of new owners turning directly into new murders who were somehow unable to murder before. We do have repeat criminals escalating their violence during a highly stressful and contentious time.
Even then, our homicide rate is up compared to our historic lows. We haven’t broken the much higher rates of the 1990’s where gun volumes were much lower. We cannot have historic levels of gun ownership year over year but now suddenly have a homicide spike. It has to be more complicated than that, our homicides should never have curbed if that were the case.