The Corner

New York Times: Murder Spike May Be Caused by ‘Repeat Offenders’

From the New York Times:

In New York, killings have increased by about 9 percent, to 208 through mid-August from 190 a year earlier. Homicides in Chicago are up about 20 percent over the same period a year ago.

The police superintendent in Chicago, Garry McCarthy, said he thought an abundance of guns was a major factor in his city’s homicide spike. Even as officials in both parties are calling for reducing the prison population, he insisted that gun offenders should face stiffer penalties.

“Across the country, we’ve all found it’s not the individual who never committed a crime before suddenly killing somebody,” Mr. McCarthy said on Monday. “It’s the repeat offenders. It’s the same people over and over again.”

Presuming that McCarthy is correct, it is difficult to imagine how one would go about stopping this. There is already “an abundance of guns” in America — more than 350 million of them in private hands — and if the crime spike is indeed being caused by “the same people over and over again” then passing laws to make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to get hold of and to carry them isn’t going to help much. As for the suggestion that “gun offenders should face stiffer penalties”: well, I’m not against that in principle, but it seems unlikely to do much good in practice. “The mental calculation of those who live in that strata,” it is suggested elsewhere in the piece, is “that it is more dangerous to get caught without their gun than to get caught with their gun.” If true, the law is irrelevant, for no punishment will ever be deemed worse than death. Tough one.

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