Monday, August 27, 2018


New study by economists says it was cheap and accessible guns and not the CRACK epidemic that drove the violent murder boom of the 1990s

By Marlene Lenthang

Daily Mail
August 26, 2018

Researchers have longed scratched their heads at what caused the spike in America's murder rate in 1993 - where seven homicides by firearm were reported for every 100,000 Americans, according to the Pew Research Center.

For a long time theorists believed the influx of crack cocaine was the culprit as the drug flowed through poor urban areas and saw addicts turn to crime.

But two new academic papers reveal that crack didn't drive America's notorious murder boom, which fell in the mid-90s.

Instead it was a boom of cheap and accessible guns that weaponized and fueled the deadliest years in US history and led to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's famous zero-tolerance policy, according to The Trace.

'What’s striking about the gun market is you get these surges in production. The production booms were followed by surges in killings,' Geoffrey Williams, an economist at Transylvania University in Kentucky researching US gun violence for the past three years, said.

Williams along with colleague W. Alan Bartley penned a working academic paper where they say that the 'supply shock' of cheap pistols in the 1980s and early 90s led to increases of gun homicide among young black men.

Research shows that the production of guns priced at $100 or less peaked in 1993. That same year murders, both committed by firearms or by other means, reached their highest point in history.

The nation's capitol had a gun murder rate of 75 per 100,000 residents. Gary, Indiana marked the highest murder rate with 110 deaths by gun violence per every 100,000 residents.

Shocking graphs reveal how US handgun production boomed in 1993 where nearly 1,200,000 firearms were manufactured. That year also saw the highest number of firearm homicides among young black men reaching nearly 200 per every 100,000.

That same year cocaine overdoses killed 100 per 100,000,000 people in the nation, a fraction of gun violence victims.

The violence was so bad that it led to Giuliani's famous zero-tolerance policy that allowed cops to stop and frisk suspicious suspects and arrest them for minor infractions such as loitering, prostitution, and aggressive panhandling.

While his tough crack-down led to an increase of misdemeanor arrests in the 1990s, it also correlated with New York's decrease in homicides, according to Politifact.

Williams and Bartley came to their conclusion by studying the price of handgun prices listen in Gun Digest over the years and cross matching them with gun fatality and cocaine epidemic data.

Why did US handgun production explode in the early 90s? The report authors say the The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives slacked off when it came to gun industry restrictions.

Additionally a group of six LA based gun manufacturers known as the 'Ring of Fire' expanded the market for cheap firearms that were nicknamed 'Saturday Night Specials' as they repeatedly were found at the crime scenes of weekend drunken disputes.

As a result of 1993's gun violence epidemic the federal government doubled ATF law enforcement funding from just over $2billion in 1990 to more than $4billion in 1994.

The Brady background check system also reduced the number of gun owners as allowed dealers to instantly check whether purchasers had felony histories.

By 2000 the cheap handguns sunk to the smallest share of production. Over those seven years, the gun homicide rate also fell among black men.

In contrast cocaine overdose deaths across all ages and races steadily increased from 1980 to all all time high in 2000. If the theory that crack fueled the 90s murder boom was correct, gun homicide rates should have followed - but they didn't.

Firearm homicide rates among black men actually sunk to 100 per every 100,000 when cocaine deaths peaked that year.

However crack was associated with a rise of property crime - not murder as previously suspected.

Another working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in July, reveals that also the overall gun homicide rate has declined in the US, the murder rate for young black men remains 25 per cent higher than it was before the crack epidemic.

Paper author Timothy Moore of Purdue University said: 'It's easy to think that it's gone. But younger black males are still doing worse than other groups.'

'The diffusion of guns both as a part of, and in response to, these violent crack markets permanently changed the young black males’ rates of gun possession and their norms around carrying guns,' the paper says.

In the past couple of years the number of gun homicides have risen yet again. The national murder rate rose by 10 per cent in 2015 and another 8 per cent in 2016.

Experts say history may be repeating itself as according to the ATF, domestic gun production reached an all-time peak of 11million weapons in 2016.

At the same time gun violence has ravaged cities across America, devastating cities including Chicago, St. Louis, and Baltimore.

'There’s nothing controversial about saying that means influence injuries. Take the likelihood of people committing suicide by jumping off bridges. Studies show that when you make it harder to jump off a bridge, fewer people commit suicide that way. The supply of guns is an integral part of that same story: the widespread availability of a means of injury results in a greater amount of that kind of injury,' Dr. Sandro Galea of the Boston University School of Public Health said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out more guns lead to more murders by gunfire. So if there are lots more guns there will be lots more murders.

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