January 03, 2005

Denver: Homicide Friendly But Gun Owner Adverse - Coincidence?

Walter In Denver posted about Denver's homicide rate for 2004. About a month & a half ago I posted about a bastard in a robe deciding that because of Denver's violent crime rate it could prohibit open carry. How do these two posts by two different bloggers link together? They show the illogic of Denver's position on firearms.

Walter got his information from this article in the Denver Post. The headline seems very startling:

"With Denver homicides up nearly 50%, a bafflingly deadly year nears an end"

Some people would be inclined to think that maybe Denver had a point in restricting weapons possession. I'm not one of those people, & as we dig a little deeper I don't think you will be either.

Now here is part of that bastard of a judge Meyer's reasoning behind the necessity for Denver's gun control law to be stricter than Colorado's:

"...Denver also suffers rates of violent crime far in excess of statewide averages. Id., Appendix C. These unique factors predominate over any need for statewide uniformity or any concern about extraterritorial impact..."

Again on the surface some people would think that Meyer's reasoning is sound. After all Denver does suffer from more crime than any other area of the state & this year the homicides increased 50% so maybe tighter gun control laws are necessary on the local level.

Here's the thing (as found in the Denver Post article):

"There is no common thread, such as gangs, drugs or handgun violence, that can explain the increase, police say...
This year, fewer than half of the homicides involved handguns."

Less than 47 people were killed through the use of a handgun. That could mean 46 or it could mean 1. But let's just assume it's 45. That's 45 people out of a city that holds a little over 550,000. That means for every person killed through the use of a handgun there were 12,222 people that weren't. Now to keep playing with the numbers if we assume there's 280 million people in the U.S. & roughly 40,000 died in car accidents last year then for every person killed in a car accident in the U.S. there were 7,000 that weren't. I won't get into the "x times more likely to die in a car than from a bullet" game but I think things should be in a little more perspective.

Now I have not seen the data that the Denver Post bases its numbers on. I might try to dig it up if I have time as I'd be curious to know if the total number of homicides did or did not include justifiable homicide. I do know that the Denver PD killed a few people this year but I have no idea if those were included in the totals.

The odd thing is the two specific crimes that were mentioned in the Denver Post story were stabbing; a man was killed in his home by multiple stabbing (30 times) & a cab driver was killed by multiple stabbings (39 times). The alleged murderer of both men is a 19 year old woman.

Only 15% (14) of the homicides were gang related & 9% (8) were the results of domestic violence. (I rounded the numbers & I'm relying on what the Denver Posts summarized.) The article did not mention self defense or justifiable homicide at all.

"Eight homeless people were targets. Fourteen women were considered murder suspects. A grandfather is suspected of shooting his grandson. A brother is accused of stabbing his brother. In just one month, three dead babies were found discarded as trash."

We can safely conclude that the three dead children found inside of a month were not the result of self defense. Everything else could possibly (though it's not probable that they all are) cases of self defense or otherwise justifiable homicide.

"Most of them are driven by emotion, conflicts and arguments,' said Denver homicide Capt. David Abrams."

Um, I thought all crimes against another person were driven by conflict? I suppose if you wanted to kill me & I wanted to be killed by you there could be a crime sans conflict but I guaran-damn-teeya that in the vast majority of homicides in the universe were because of a conflict; one person wanted the other person to die despite his/her wishes to the contrary. That being said the Denver PD has an astonishing rate of solved murders: 75%.

Getting back to the point (yes there was a point) it seems that homicide committed with handguns isn't the big deal that Denver convinced Meyer it was. In the last few posts on Denver's gun laws I spent a great deal of time arguing why in principle they were wrong. Now it seems that I can argue in pragmatic terms they were & still are quite wrong.

To put it bluntly the good people of Denver (both of them) seem to have forgotten a very basic rule of survival: always bring a gun to a knife fight.

Having a firearm is not the only thing that's necessary. A while back I argued (although in a different context) that the means to fight didn't mean much without the knowledge to fight & the will to fight. I think that's just as valid whether talking about resisting a tyrannical government or the local thug. I seriously doubt that a majority of people in Denver have either the knowledge or will to fight back & defend themselves. Therefore the means won't be the same equalizer it is in the hands of someone from say Lincolnton, North Carolina.

However the fault for this condition is not solely government; a lot of people want someone else to protect them. The government steps in & gladly takes this role along with all the power it can squeeze out of the deal. The problem is that government cannot protect you despite its claims. So we have a populace that is very willing to take comfort in a myth. For most people (a very sizable majority) the myth is never challenged. For at least 94 people in Denver in 2004 the truth was discovered the hard way.

This is what the sister of one of the stabbed men said about the reason for her brother's brutal murder:

"I just think that there are so many broken people in our society now, people who have not had the opportunities to grow up in safe, secure situations,' she said. 'They do not have self-control of their rage, and that disturbance spills out on other people."

No; that's not it. There have been & always will be people who commit violence towards others. There have been & always will be people who don't control themselves or even want to. It's no different now than it was 2,000 years ago save for trivial details like population density & technology. The basic premise is the same: some people will try to prey on other people.

What is perhaps a little different (though not much) is that more people seem unwilling to take the steps necessary to provide for their own defense. I'd assume that the majority of homes in Denver contain no firearms. A baseball bat, fire poker or knife would be what you'd have to use to defend yourself in the typical Denver home. & that's not because of some asinine law: the people simply don't want to confront the idea that they & not the cops are responsible for their own safety. (Not that Denver lacks some atrocious laws.)

Again from that bastard in a robe Meyer's opinion:

"As plaintiffs stated in their opening brief. 'Simply put, a bullet fired in Denver--whether maliciously by a criminal or negligently by a law-abiding citizen is more likely to hit something or somebody than a bullet fired in rural Colorado."

Now I do assume given the less than firearms friendly nature of the Denver Post that if negligent shootings were included in the homicide total it would have been mentioned. Since there was no mention of negligent shootings I'll assume they simply weren't numerous enough to be mentioned.

94 people killed in 2004. I'd say the key part that the city of Denver left out in its opening brief was that a bullet fired from a citizen acting in self defense would be more likely to stop a criminal than the cops would (despite their better than average rate of case solving).

So despite Denver's gun control laws homicides rose by half of their 2003 number. Most of the homicides were committed with an object other than a handgun. I'd say that Denver's gun control laws didn't help. In fact I'm sure in some cases they may have prevented people from defending themselves.

Carrying openly or concealed may not have prevented the rise in homicides. Ditto for having a firearm in the home. It's entirely possible that the number would have been the same or higher. But the difference is now we have 94 people presumably murdered, whereas it could have been 94 people with a plurality if not majority killed in justifiable self defense.

Merely having a firearm won't make the difference (usually) but if people arm themselves & gain the knowledge & will to defend themselves & their communities then at least they'll have a better chance of surviving.

Denver's homicide rate may go up again in 2005 or it may go down. The reasons are too complex to get anywhere close to a good idea of which way the numbers will fall. But if Denver were to drop its asshatted laws concerning carrying & possessing firearms & encourage its citizens to protect themselves then there'd be a better chance that some if not most of the ones who comprise 2005's homicide total would have at least deserved their fate.

I'm not holding my breath though.

Thanks again to Walter In Denver for posting about this & The Smallest Minority for writing so well concerning the responsibility of self defense.

Posted by Publicola at January 3, 2005 05:11 AM

I have never read such a stupid, miss-the-point article in my life.

Posted by: what a wank at June 10, 2005 02:23 AM
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