Gun Laws & Legislation

Taking The Temperature Of Urban Violence

By Larry Keane

One of the most common themes among the gun control crowd is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) isn’t allowed to do research on gun violence. We have of course responded repeatedly to this myth and continue to remind these groups that the criminal misuse of firearms is not a matter of public health, rather a criminal justice problem, with criminal justice solutions.

So when a 2013 “surge in violence” in Wilmington, Delaware drives the city council president to ask the CDC to study the problem of youth gun violence in the city, the CDC conducted a study and used actual data to come up with recommendations. Put aside for a moment the fact that this should be out of the realm of the CDC and probably more of an issue for the Justice Department. The CDC didn’t tell Delaware to implement the types of knee-jerk reaction gun control policies that are so popular with the gun control groups. Rather, the CDC researchers offered Delaware a roadmap for data-backed, effective policy changes to address the issues.

Integrating Data Systems

The study found that there is conclusive evidence of factors that precede firearm crimes in cases of urban violence. Rather than banning the firearms themselves, the CDC report determined “that integrating data systems could help these individuals better receive the early, comprehensive help that they need to prevent violence involvement. This could potentially help prevent the subsequent violent crime that affects individuals, families, and neighborhoods throughout Wilmington.”

The factors for violence were clear enough that the CDC called for the creation a database for state and local agencies to share information about youth such as truancy records and child welfare reports. By sharing the information, authorities could see which kids need help before they break the law and engage in gun violence.

No Call for More Gun Control Laws

Of course, the concept of data sharing among relative agencies is a great one. But much to the disappointment of gun control groups, the CDC didn’t suggest new restrictions on firearms or ammunition. The common-sense approach of the recommendations calls into question why, years later, the city and state have not implemented the policy changes.

According to news reports, the issue comes down to a lack of state action and funding to make the changes that could make a difference. In the meantime, gun control groups will continue their calls for irrational policies that only hurt the law-abiding citizens.

Larry Keane is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.