August 22, 2018

YEAH, BUT CRACK IS BLACK, GUNS ARE WHITE, SO THAT CAN'T BE IT...:

These Economists Think It Was Guns, Not the Crack Epidemic, That Drove the '90s Murder Boom (ALEX YABLON, August 22, 2018, The TrAce)

In a working paper updated in August, Geoffrey Williams and his colleague W. Alan Bartley argued that it was a "supply shock" of low-priced pistols which in the 1980s and early '90s led to higher levels of gun homicide among young black men. During those years, ATF oversight of the gun industry slacked off and a group of Los Angeles-based manufacturers known as the "Ring of Fire" expanded the market for "Saturday Night Specials": bottom-of-the-barrel firearms that turned up at crime scenes as surely as weekends beget drunken disputes.

Culling advertisements in back issues of the magazine Gun Digest, Williams and Bartley compiled handgun price and production data for the period. They calculate that the production of cheap guns priced at $100 or less peaked in 1993, the same year murders, both those committed with guns or other means, reached their highest point. That year, Washington, D.C., had a murder rate of 75 per 100,000 residents. The industrial hub of Gary, Indiana, led the country at a rate of 110 per 100,000 residents. Today, very few cities even approach those levels of violent death.

The huge pool of cheap guns contracted sharply as the 1990s wore on. Manufacturers of cut-rate handguns were driven out of business by product liability lawsuits (their guns tended to injure users, too). The federal government doubled ATF law enforcement funding, from just over $2 billion in 1990 to more than $4 billion by 1994. The then-nascent Brady background check system, which allowed gun dealers to instantly check whether a purchaser was prohibited from owning a gun, reduced the ability of gun purchasers with felony histories or other disqualifying behavior to buy firearms.

By 2000, the cheap handguns that had risen to claim the largest share of production sunk to the smallest share. Over the same years, the gun homicide rate among young black men also fell.

So did their suicide rate, which Williams and Bartley consider crucial evidence. 

Posted by at August 22, 2018 6:34 PM

  

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