The Corner

Guns and Crime

Whatever happened to gun control? Has anyone heard anything in the last two years about the need for greater gun control? I must admit, I haven’t followed this issue very closely. I’ve noticed a fair number of blogger posts on the topic (including Dave Kopel and others on NRO). The Bellesiles affair was huge. Richard Poe had an interesting book a couple years back, The Seven Myths of Gun Control. But has there been a peep out of the other side of this issue since the Million Mom March? I know the NRA is still sneered at by the mainstream press. But has anyone made any sort of argument for more gun control lately? My sense is that past presidential elections showed this issue to be a loser for the Democrats, so it just went away. Now even Howard Dean brags that he’s conservative on guns.

While we’re on the subject of guns, whatever happened to crime? Have any of the Democratic presidential candidates said a word about crime? Does the administration even have a crime policy? If it does, it’s effectively invisible. Younger folks may not remember how important crime used to be as a political issue. There were points from the sixties through the eighties in which crime was easily one of the biggest domestic issues in the country. Last I recall, the crime rate was down. People pointed to local policing techniques like the “broken windows” approach, but also suggested that shrinking proportion of young people in the population might be behind the downturn. I think that was sometime in the nineties. Now the issue seems so far from public consciousness that I have to assume the crime rate is still relatively low. Heather MacDonald published a great book recently, Are Cops Racist? But it was more about the profiling issue than any increase in crime itself. So has gun control ceased to be an issue because crime has ceased to be an issue? Today, the sort of difference that used to be played out in the crime debate is tied up in the debate over Iraq and preemption. The right worries about getting tough with malefactors. The left is more concerned with root causes, mercy, and proper procedure. I guess terrorism is the new crime. But whatever happened to good old fashioned crime?