So what might be the cause? A lot of things of course. One factor may be people's willingness to carry heat. Word on the street is that guns are back in town. As I was told: "People are now shooting into crowds more often, doing drivebys, more often, and shootings as teams more often. The risk for carrying a gun in nearly zilch. Bottom line: cops aren't stopping people, and young black men are paying for it with their lives."
Stop and frisks are down roughly 95%. Now we could debate whether certain police tactics are legal, constitutional, or moral. We should debate these things. Maybe it's OK to have 50 more dead bodies in NYC if hundreds of thousands of other young black men aren't stopped by police for no good reason. So let's have that debate. What bothers me is the disingenuousness of those who refuse to grant criminals any agency in crime. Like Broken Windows is the root of all evil. Like it is inevitable that 2015 would see a 10 to 20 increase in shootings in Brooklyn. And it must have been written by the Almighty that some in Baltimore would riot on April 27, and then the homicide rate would skyrocket.
Criminals don't leave their guns at home because they're asked politely by community leaders. It is possible that force and coercion might, in some cases, keep people alive. Remember (before we forget) that the arguments against stop, question, and frisk weren't only that it was illegal, unconstitutional, and morally reprehensible. It was that it didn't work -- that stop, question, and frisk was actually counterproductive with regards to crime prevention. (I never quite understood that argument, but it was said.)
The role of guns in NYC homicides is surprisingly varied. It wasn't that long ago (well, the 1970s) that guns were used in less than half of all murders in NYC. In 1960, at least according to one source, guns were used in just 20 percent of homicides. But that changed in late 1960s and 1970s.
By 1990, guns in NYC out of control. 1,650 killed by guns, 75% of all murders, higher than the national average (not including NYC) of 67%. (All these percentage may be a bit low based on "other and unknown".)
So along with all murder going down in NYC, gun murders went down in particular.
In 2000 65% of murders in NYC involved guns. (Compared to 66% in the rest of the nation. UCR data, all.)
In 2005 61% in NYC. (Rest of nation: 68%.)
In 2010 60% in NYC. (Rest of nation: 68%.)
In 2013 59% in NYC. (Rest of nation: 70%.)
Meanwhile, the percentages of gun homicides in other cities is much higher: 84% in Chicago; 79% in Los Angeles; 81% in Baltimore. So New York looks all the more impressive.
This was a little heralded victory against gun crime in NYC. While the rest of the country saw a small increase in the percentage of homicides involving guns, NYC saw a decrease.
I asked my friend, Dan Baum, who insisted on being identified as "a liberal Democrat Jewish gun owner who wrote Gun Guys: A Road Trip". Baum can write. (Too bad you didn't buy his book.)
Anyway, I asked Baum about what changed in the 1960s. Gun violence increased 50% in the 1960s (five times more than other/non-gun violence). He said:
What changed in the early 1960s? JFK was shot, and the liberals began their long love affair with gun control. Until 1968, you could buy guns through the mail. Guns were things that people owned, but they weren’t a cultural marker, a badge of belonging to a particular subculture.
The liberals changed all that, by relentlessly pushing the bubbas into a corner. Suddenly, people were in a panic to buy all the guns they could, because they never knew when the liberals were going to ban their sale altogether. The NRA, taken over by the loonies in 1977, pushed that narrative. The number of guns circulating in private hands exploded exponentially, with predictable results. Not only that, a tremendous amount of anger was injected into the national discussion around guns — also not a good thing.
So I’d argue that we have the liberals, and gun control, to thank for the huge increase in gun murders. Guns are way more prevalent than they used to be, because the liberals made them a thing. Had they not done that, we’d be back in 1960 America — guns being a thing that some people own, that have no cultural/political/spiritual significance.