A bunch of reports indicate a second annual increase in the occurance of violent crimes. I haven’t located one of the actual reports, but here’s what I have found:
There is a USDOJ report due out next week, and there is this report, released in early March 2007, from the Police Executive Research Forum. There is also a DOJ report from early in May, for which I can only find extremely scant references in PR releases and other news articles, but cannot find isolated and distinct. The report is the result of the first of a three phase effort Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced last fall, called the Initiative for Safer Communities.
It is in the paraphrasing of the Initiative for Safer Communities study’s results where Gonzales fingers guns as the problem. From CNN (pardon the lengthy excerpt but it tells the story that some of us, like myself, have presumed for years would be the trend):
The spike [in violent crime found by the FBI in 12/06] prompted Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to order a study of violence in 18 cities. The results [the ones I cannot find anywhere online] were released earlier this week, when Gonzales announced that the Justice Department would spend $50 million to combat urban violence.
The Justice Department concluded that the increased violence is caused by a younger and more violent generation of criminals who have easy access to guns. Many are loosely organized into street gangs and crews.
In Philadelphia, police and civic activists point to several factors, including poverty and drugs. But by far the biggest catalyst, they say, is the availability of guns. [my emphasis]
Young men who grow up angry with few opportunities use guns to win status on the streets, said Greg Bucceroni, of Men United for a Better Philadelphia, which mentors at-risk teens, counsels crime victims and sponsors community events to try to reduce violence. (Watch Bucceroni talk about how why the violence is getting worse )
“They feel that’s how they get respect, so the level of violence escalates,” he said.
Bucceroni works for the city but also spends much of his time volunteering to help guide kids who have gotten into trouble. An activist since the early 1980s, he has seen the changes.
“In the 70s, I mean, if somebody came up and they had a zip gun — which was a homemade gun — that was big time,” he said. “Now if, if you don’t have an AK-47 or a sawed-off shotgun or a 9 mm, even if you pull out a .38, they laugh at you because, ‘Is that all you’ve got?’ That is their mentality when now people are carrying automatic handguns.”
So long as members of our society decide that they prefer to resolve differences and dangerous situations with a shot to the gut or the leg or the heart, regardless of whether they’ll be able to provide evidence afterwards that they had the requisite law on their side to do so, we will continue to see an increase in violent crime, against people, with guns.
Think you’re gonna call Alberto? Here’s what he says he plans to do. Does it make you feel any safer?
Finally, from the PERF study:
*Cleveland had a 20% or more increase in homicides between 2004 and 2006 (p.3)
*Cleveland had a more than 30% increase in robberies between 2004 and 2006 (p.3)
*Cleveland had a more than 30% increase in aggravated assaults with firearms between 2004 and 2006 (p.3)
Looks a little something like this (click on the chart; “Cleveland” is highlighted in blue):