On gun control

12/18/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

With the unthinkable tragedy that has taken place in Connecticut, it has become fashionable to once again to turn to a form of national gun control legislation as the answer.  The nation has been down this road all too often in its brief history, as such, it is normal and proper that these events shock the public conscience into some sort of action.

However, even though we, at The Mint, advocate what we call “peaceful, non-resistance,” meaning that we believe that the most effective way of ending violence is to personally renounce it, to avoid confrontation where possible and, when impossible, to meet violent individuals with a spirit of peace, we also recognize that we do not live in the utopia that gun control advocates unwittingly presume when peddling their legislative plans to remove guns from the society.

We consider Portland to be one of the most peaceful places on the planet.  This may or may not be true for everyone here, but it will help us to prove a point regarding Police to Citizen ratios.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the ideal Full time Police Officer ratio for a city the size of Portland is 2.5 for every 1,000 residents.  Portland’s current force is roughly 940 for a population of 593,820, which is a ratio of roughly 1.58 officers for every 1,000 residents, or one officer for every 631 residents.

No matter how you slice it, 631 people is a lot for one man or woman to be responsible for protecting.

For perspective, this ratio is claimed to be closer to 5 officers per 1,000 in New York and Los Angeles.  On the other side of the spectrum, we have heard that Santa Cruz, Bolivia, considered to be the wild west, the ratio is something like 1 officer per 1,000 residents.

To see if increased police protection is synonymous with lower homicide rates, we’ve compiled some rough data which maps homicide rates in major cities against their Police to citizen ratio.  Here, we present a rough graph of our rough data for your perusal:

Homicide vs Police to citizen ratios

In addition to the cities above, we threw in London, England, which has combined both stringent gun control with a larger than average police force.

It is interesting to note that, while New York and Los Angeles have the highest police force to citizen ratio in our sample, they also have the highest homicide rates.  As such, it is difficult to tell if a larger police force is the key to controlling urban homicides.

However, it is interesting to note that, in urban areas, it appears that gun control may be effective in controlling homicides.  However, this theory is seriously impaired when a city like Chicago or Washington, DC is considered.

As long as human beings are imperfect, unpredictable violence is likely to remain a part of the social landscape.  While it is even more shocking when it occurs in low crime areas, it should be clear that unpredictable violence is just that, unpredictable. Policy remedies are imperfect.

So why the second amendment?  To explain why the right to bear arms is integral to the operation of any free society, we turn to video of testimony by Dr. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp, who is a survivor of the 1991 Luby’s massacre and leading advocate of the individual’s right to carry a concealed weapon.  In her famous closing words, which can be seen in the clip below, she articulately states that the second amendment (we paraphrase) “wasn’t meant to protect our right to hunt ducks, it was meant to give us a means to protect ourselves from y’all (the government)”

Is it right to categorically deny a population of nearly 400 million persons the right to defend themselves (or hunt ducks, for that matter)?  Second amendment advocates and the peoples of the former Soviet Union, Turkey, and Cambodia, who were systematically exterminated after surrendering such a right, would say no.

On the other hand, peace loving individuals who live in dense, urban populations may have a different opinion, where ideological battles such as the right to bear arms are meaningless if the threat of urban warfare is too close for comfort.

Whatever the choice, it can only be made at the individual level, there is no policy prescription, save the to often ignored 5th commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” to which Jesus added, “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”

Perhaps rather than attempting to control anything, a greater respect for human life and the Golden rule should be espoused by all.  This may be the only thing that everyone involved can truly live with.

May the victims of this most recent of tragedies rest in peace, and may we be shocked into peacefully renouncing violence against one another.

Stay tuned for the conclusion of the third sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for December 18, 2012

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