With violent crime increasing over the last year, Americans want a solution. Over and over, President Joe Biden frames violent crime as a gun problem. His presentation this month was no different. But the problem is much more far-reaching. Violent crime is rising across the board, and in 2019, 92% of it didn’t involve guns. Even just 2% of gun crimes end in murder. That has been virtually the same percentage for decades, and even if gun crime surged relative to all other violent crime it would still be a relatively small percentage.
It’s not hard to find explanations for the increased violence. In many urban areas, more than half of prison inmates have been released on account of the pandemic and the releases are continuing. In some places, police have been ordered to stand down and their budgets cut. Prosecutors in many major urban areas have refused to prosecute violent criminals.
We have to enforce the law by ensuring that criminals are afraid of being caught and punished. But when New York City cut its police budget by $1 billion, that sent quite the opposite message.