Yes, Exactly

From the Toronto Star“A look beyond the handgun ban”:

David Kennedy, an anthropologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, is the godfather of this approach. In 1996, when he was a professor at Harvard, Kennedy launched the Boston Gun Project, the first intervention of its kind. It reduced gun crime in the city by 60 per cent. Since then, it has blossomed to a number of cities across the U.nited States.

Kennedy views bans, like the one Miller is pushing for, as a symptom of the problem, not a cure. “For people desperately searching for a solution, it seems like it makes sense,” says Kennedy. “What they don’t understand is that there are better tools that don’t require law to implement, and are practically cookbook and off-the-shelf.”

Chicago’s Project Safe Neighbourhoods is close to Kennedy’s prescription (he helped advise on the project); Cincinnati’s Initiative to Reduce Violence is its full manifestation. In Cincinnati, gun-related homicides spiked in 2006 to 89, more than double the annual average, since 1991, of 43.

Kennedy’s research team unpacked what he calls typical trends: They identified 69 distinct street groups, comprising about 1,000 people. Of the 89 homicides, these 1,000 people – less than half a per cent of the city’s population – were connected to more than 75 per cent of them.

Identifying the problem makes the solution relatively simple, Kennedy says. “If we change the behaviour of these people, we solve the problem.”

(Emphasis mine.) Precisely what I’ve been saying since I started this blog. In America, and I assume pretty much worldwide, the vast majority of violent crime is committed by a tiny percentage of the population, almost all of whom have prior criminal records. As I have noted here in the past, American homicide rates are heavily skewed by the fact that young, black, urban males – who make up less than 13% of America’s population – commit and are the victims of well over half the homicides America suffers each year. And on top of that, the young, black, urban males that actually commit the murders are a tiny fraction of that 13%.

But the political response to this is “gun control”?

As SayUncle says, “Gun control is what you do instead of something.”

But the philosophy says the number of guns is the problem, not the behavior of a tiny, identifiable group of people, and since the philosophy cannot be wrong, the consistent failure of the “solution” – gun control – cannot be because the wrong path is being pursued. No, no! The failure must be due to improper implementation! The only response must be to do it again, only HARDER!.

(h/t: Say Uncle)

UPDATE and correction: Chris Byrne in comments notes:

Actually, blacks as a whole are about 14% of the population.

Young, male, urban blacks, are about 3% of the population.

Of those, 24% have a felony criminal record.

It’s not about race, it’s just demographics.

He’s right, and I knew that. According to the CDC’s data:

2005 – Total population 296,507,061
Black males 10-34 years old 7,763,680, or 2.62% of the population.

Homicides (all) – 10,438
Black males 10-34 – 5,181,

2.62% of the population, 49.6% of the victims.

One-gun-a-month laws, closing the “gun show loophole,” licensing, registration, “assault weapon” bans, and handgun bans will somehow make this all go away because “the number of guns” in America is the problem.

No it’s not.

Identifying the problem makes the solution relatively simple, Kennedy says. “If we change the behaviour of these people, we solve the problem.”

Yes indeed.

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