The Brady Campaign's Paul Helmke on why violent crime has gone up in 2005 and part of 2006

Violent crimes are rising. Do you think there is any connection between crime rates and changing gun legislation?

A. During the 1990s the federal government helped cities like Fort Wayne fight crime by providing COPS grants to hire more police and by adopting common-sense gun legislation like the Brady bill (establishing background checks for guns sold by licensed dealers) and the assault weapons ban. In recent years, there has been less federal money for local communities to hire police, and the gun laws have been weakened. Crime rates rise and fall for a number of reasons, but I certainly think that the change from the approach in the 1990s of “more police, less guns” to the approach now of “more guns, less police” has not helped. . . .

Why not more police and more guns? My research showed that police were the single most important factor in reducing crime, but I also believe that the police themselves realize that they almost always arrive on the crime scene after the crime has been committed. Police are extremely important and help in certain ways and so does letting private citizens defend themselves.

As to the Brady Act, how has the Bush administration weakened it? What did they do in 2005 and 2006 that weakened it?

I believe that the reduction in the number of police is associated with part of the reason for more violent crime, but that has nothing to do with the COPS programs which really didn't do anything to effectively increase the number of cops on the street. I have written on this enough, but the COPS program did not do anything about fungibility of money.



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