Republicans complain about violent crime, but they don’t want to talk about it

As violent crime rates in the United States have risen in recent years, conservative politicians have accused progressive politicians and Blue State lawmakers of being “soft on crime.” What they have largely ignored, however, is that crimes involving guns account for a significant portion of this increase.

Between 2019 and 2020, murders increased by 30%. In 2020, more than 19,000 people were killed by gun violence, a 35% increase from 2019. That year, firearms were used in 8 out of 10 homicides. In the past three months alone, we have seen shootings back-to-back high-profile — at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York; an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas; and a family holiday parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

Republicans often downplay mass shootings as rare events that are simply the price we have to pay for the right to bear arms. But even as they shrug their shoulders in the face of these tragedies, they are inclined to sow panic about gun violence in liberal cities.

After the Uvalde shooting, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (right) dismissed calls for tougher gun control laws in his state by saying Chicago was worse every weekend. “I hate to say this, but there are more people gunned down every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas,” he falsely claimed.

It should be impossible to fearmonger a crime wave without discussing the role guns play.

Instead, conservatives have continued to advocate for expanded gun rights, seemingly unaware that murder rates tend to be higher in Republican-run states.

Murder rates are on average 40% higher in the states Donald Trump won in 2020 than in those he lost, according to research published this year by the centrist think tank Third Way. Researchers found that eight of the 10 states with the highest murder rates went to Trump in the last presidential election.

There is evidence that high crime rates are linked to lax gun laws. For example, in 2007 Missouri repealed its Purchase Permit Act, a law that required handgun buyers to present a valid license requiring a background check before a sale. After repeal, Missourians did not need a background check to purchase firearms from sellers who were not federally registered.

“Where there are more guns, there are more homicides.”

– Kelly Drane, research director at the Gabby Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Later studies indicated that the repeal of the Permit Act was linked to an increase in gun violence statewide. In 2014, the Journal of Urban Health found that the end of the purchase permit law was associated with a 25% increase in firearm homicides in the state. Six years later, the American Journal of Public Health found that getting rid of the law had been associated with a 47% increase in such crimes.

Conversely, in 2015, the American Journal of Public Health found that a 1995 purchase permit law in Connecticut contributed to a 40% drop in firearm homicides.

“Where there are more guns, there are more homicides,” said Kelly Drane, research director at the Gabby Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Despite this, GOP-led states continue to push to expand gun rights.

Last year, Tennessee passed a law allowing most adults carry a gun without a license. Texas passed a similar law months later. Last month, Ohio became the 23rd state allow its inhabitants to carry a weapon without a license.

In June, tthe United States Supreme Court spoke out against New York’s law requiring individuals to demonstrate special need in order to obtain a concealed carry permit – opening the door for states to further relax gun laws and for more people to apply for concealed carry permits. After the decision, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) lowered the standards to obtain a gun license.

“People are increasingly carrying guns everywhere they go,” said Nick Wilson, senior director of gun violence prevention at the Center for American Progress. “What would normally be a verbal confrontation or fight is now people pulling out their guns.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott continued to defend gun restrictions following a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Lax gun laws at the city or state level can affect the rest of the country, so even people who live in areas with stricter laws have fewer barriers to firearms. acquisition of firearms. People can easily go to an area that doesn’t require background checks, buy a gun, and go home.

“When we don’t regulate the legal gun market, it allows the black market to thrive,” Drane said. An astonishing number of firearms used in crimes are pre-moved across state lines.

Between 2010 and 2020, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported that over 600,000 the firearms used in the crimes came from a different state than the one in which they were found. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, between 2016 and 2020, 75% of weapons picked up across state lines were from states that did not require background checks.

The ATF also found that 81% of weapons recovered in New York in 2020 came from another state. In the guns used in the crimes in Baltimore and Chicago that city conservatives regularly slander, the majority have crossed state lines.

“Weapons will flow from state to state,” Wilson said. “Chicago can pass as many laws as they want, but people can just move on to Gary, Indiana.”

Less stringent gun laws have also coincided with record gun sales. In 2020, Americans bought 23 million guns — and about 40% of these weapons went to first-time gun buyers, who tend to be less experienced and less trained than people who already own guns.

With the midterm elections just months away and scrutiny of Congress hanging in the balance, conservatives will certainly continue to push the narrative that President Joe Biden or Democratic prosecutors are responsible for crime while conveniently omitting how much of that increase is due to their love affair with firearms.


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