Freedomnomics

Article published Friday, September 30, 2011 at Fox News.

Media Silence Is Deafening About Important Gun News

By John R. Lott, Jr.

Murder and violent crime rates were supposed to soar after the Supreme Court struck down gun control laws in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Politicians predicted disaster. "More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence," Washington’s Mayor Adrian Fenty warned the day the court made its decision.

Chicago’s Mayor Daley predicted that we would "go back to the Old West, you have a gun and I have a gun and we'll settle it in the streets . . . ."

The New York Times even editorialized this month about the Supreme Court's "unwise" decision that there is a right for people "to keep guns in the home."

But Armageddon never happened. Newly released data for Chicago shows that, as in Washington, murder and gun crime rates didn't rise after the bans were eliminated -- they plummeted. They have fallen much more than the national crime rate.

Not surprisingly, the national media have been completely silent about this news.

One can only imagine the coverage if crime rates had risen. In the first six months of this year, there were 14% fewer murders in Chicago compared to the first six months of last year – back when owning handguns was illegal. It was the largest drop in Chicago’s murder rate since the handgun ban went into effect in 1982.

Meanwhile, the other four most populous cities saw a total drop at the same time of only 6 percent.

Similarly, in the year after the 2008 "Heller" decision, the murder rate fell two-and-a-half times faster in Washington than in the rest of the country.

It also fell more than three as fast as in other cities that are close to Washington's size. And murders in Washington have continued to fall.

If you compare the first six months of this year to the first six months of 2008, the same time immediately preceding the Supreme Court's late June "Heller" decision, murders have now fallen by thirty-four percent. Gun crimes also fell more than non-gun crimes.

Robberies with guns fell by 25%, while robberies without guns have fallen by eight percent. Assaults with guns fell by 37%, while assaults without guns fell by 12%.

Just as with right-to-carry laws, when law-abiding citizens have guns some criminals stop carrying theirs. The benefit could have been even greater. Getting a handgun permit in Chicago and Washington is an expensive and difficult process, meaning only the relatively wealthy go through it.

Through the end of May only 2,144 people had handguns registered in Chicago. That limits the benefits from the Supreme Court decisions since it is the poor who are the most likely victims of crime and who benefit the most from being able to protect themselves.

The biggest change for Washington was the Supreme Court striking down the law making it illegal to have a loaded gun. Over 70,000 people have permits for long guns that they can now legally used to protect themselves.

Lower crime rates in Chicago and Washington, by themselves, don’t prove that gun control increases murders, even when combined with the quite familiar story of how their murder rates soared and stayed high after the gun bans were imposed.

But these aren’t isolated examples. Around the world, whenever guns are banned, murder rates rise. Gun control advocates explained the huge increases in murder and violent crime rates Chicago and Washington by saying that those bans weren’t fair tests unless the entire country adopted a ban.

Yet, even island nations, such as Ireland and the U.K. -- with no neighbors to blame -- have seen increases in murder rates. The same horror stories about blood in the streets have surrounded the debate over concealed handguns.

Some said it was necessary to ban guns in public places. The horror stories never came true and the data is now so obvious that as of November, only one state, Illinois, will still completely ban law-abiding from carrying concealed handguns.

Forty-one states will have either permissive right-to-carry laws or no longer even require a permit. The regulations that still exist in Chicago and Washington primarily disarm the most likely victims of crime. Hopefully, even the poor in these areas will soon also have more of an opportunity to defend themselves, too.

John R. Lott Jr. is a FOXNews.com contributor. He is an economist and the author of "More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010), the third edition of which was published in May.".

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