Thursday, April 30, 2009

NYC Fatal Stabbings Up 50% in 2008

The New York Times reports Knife Killing in [New York] City Increased 50 Percent in 2008.

The reason? Apparently, gun control:
"It was possible, but hard to document, [police spokesman] Mr. Browne said, that measures like undercover gun-trafficking investigations and interrogations, in which people arrested for lower level crimes are asked to provide information on gun cases, had led to the rise in knife killings and the drop in gun slayings."
And who are the victims? The disarmed citizens of NYC:
A psychotherapist in an Upper East Side office. A young woman working in a grocery store. A city bus driver behind the wheel in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on a lunchtime route.
So we see guns can be readily substituted with knives, clubs, etc.; like tea for coffee. Not really news to some of us, but for some truth is difficult to accept.

The article also carries an interesting correction: "The number of murder victims killed by any means fell to 14,831 in 2007, from 15,087 in 2006; those figures did not represent only those killed by guns." (The paper originally reporter those figures as all being gun homicides.)

The NYT lists the FBI as the correction source. The FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) lists 2005 total homicides as "16,692." so we have a downward trend overall in the last couple years. That figure probably comes as a shock to many people who have been repeated told it is about twice that high. But looking closely at the data, the homicide rates appear to be even lower. The number of homicides linked to firarms much lower than typically reported by anti-gun organizations.

Exactly what is considered a homicide?
According to DOJ, the weapons used in 2005 homicides were:
  • Handgun - 8,478
  • Other gun - 2,868
  • Knife - 2,147
  • Blunt object - 617
  • Other weapon - 2,528
That's 11346 "homicides" with firearms; 5292 without. But of the homicides listed, 635 are listed as "justifiable," including 192 by citizens and 343 by police. The DOJ doesn't list the weapons used in justifiable homicides, but I think it's probable that the police instances were mostly with handguns, and the citizen examples probably mostly so as well. That would lower the TOTAL number of unjustified murders with handguns each year to less than 8,000 (7,843). The total number of murders with all firearms is then 10,701 according to DOJ.

That is a far cry from the "30,000 gun murders a year" claim we see bandied about--a claim that is made only by using justified homicides, police shootings, accidents and suicides as all being equivalent with murder by describing them all as "gun violence." For example, the Brady Campaign website says "80 people a day die from guns." 365 x 80 = 29,200 a year, but as shown by the DOJ numbers, the 30,000 figure we so often hear actually includes 17,000 suicides, for which there are as many readily accessible substitutes as NYC shows there are for homicide. Those details are left out of the Brady website posting. As noted in previous posts, similar statistical slight of hand is used to grossly exaggerate the number of children shot each year, as well as the total number of accidental shootings.

Starting out with honest numbers is essential to any discussion, IMHO. Let's talk start our discussions by using the real number of gun homicides, of which we see there are between 10,000 to 11,000 a year and THEN look at policies to prevent these terrible crimes. Considering there are about 10,000 to 11,000 gun murders by criminals a year but 2.5 million defensive uses of guns each year, the statistics heavily favor the argument that armed citizens are safe ones; numbers that should also be part of any discussion on the role of armed citizens in our society.

The rise of fatal stabbings of defenseless victims in NYC is best linked to New York City's draconian bans on concealed handgun licenses. Until recently, NYC banned ownership of firearms by most citizens as well. If we want to see a decline in stabbings and other murders, New Yorkers should be given the right to concealed carry and to keep firearms in their homes without having to justify themselves to city bureaucrats. The dots seem easy to connect, but I expect you'll see a different spin put on it the conversation by the New York Times--is licensing kitchen knives next?

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