For years, liberals have held that crime was linked to the economy and a person’s socioeconomic status. Although it seems logical that poverty and economic stress could induce people to commit crimes, statistical data observed since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008 challenges the idea.
If there really is a link between poverty and crime, then crime should increase during a major period of economic upheaval such as the Great Recession. The reality, however, is that according to FBI crime statistics, crime rates have actually been falling throughout the past several years.
The release of new cause of death statistical report by the Centers for Disease Control, headquartered in Atlanta, is further confirmation that the link between poverty and crime does not exist. In the new report, homicide is not among the top 15 causes of death in the United States for the first time since 1965. Homicide was replaced as the 15th leading cause of death by “Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids.” In the most recent data for Georgians, Department of Public Health statistics from 1999-2002, homicide was not one of the top ten causes of death.
The declines in crime and homicide are all the more unexpected because of the dramatic increase in gun ownership in the past few years. Gun sales spiked in the weeks and months following Barack Obama’s election victory in November 2008. The trend has not stopped. Atlanta’s 11 Alive reports that, according to the FBI, December 2011 was a record high month for gun sales.
According to a Gallup poll from October 2011, gun ownership is at its highest level in almost 20 years with one in three American adults personally owning a gun. Guns are in almost half of U.S. households. In southern states like Georgia, the gun ownership rate is even higher.
Under prevailing liberal orthodoxy, in a bad economy with gun sales at record high levels, crime rates should be through the roof. As with other liberal beliefs that have recently been discredited, such as the belief that spending is the proper prescription for an ailing economy, it is time to reevaluate the belief that crime is a product of poverty and guns.
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