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A Tale of Two Towns

Twenty five years ago, there were two towns trying to deal with violent crime: Morton Grove, Illinois, and Kennesaw, Georgia. Morton Grove chose to ban all hand guns except those maintained by police officers. Kennesaw, in reaction, passed a unanimous ordinance that required all heads of households to own and maintain a gun. Guess what happened to the crime rates in each city:

In March 1982, 25 years ago, the small town of Kennesaw - responding to a handgun ban in Morton Grove, Ill. - unanimously passed an ordinance requiring each head of household to own and maintain a gun. Since then, despite dire predictions of "Wild West" showdowns and increased violence and accidents, not a single resident has been involved in a fatal shooting - as a victim, attacker or defender.


The crime rate initially plummeted for several years after the passage of the ordinance, with the 2005 per capita crime rate actually significantly lower than it was in 1981, the year before passage of the law.

Prior to enactment of the law, Kennesaw had a population of just 5,242 but a crime rate significantly higher (4,332 per 100,000) than the national average (3,899 per 100,000). The latest statistics available - for the year 2005 - show the rate at 2,027 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the population has skyrocketed to 28,189.

By comparison, the population of Morton Grove, the first city in Illinois to adopt a gun ban for anyone other than police officers, has actually dropped slightly and stands at 22,202, according to 2005 statistics. More significantly, perhaps, the city's crime rate increased by 15.7 percent immediately after the gun ban, even though the overall crime rate in Cook County rose only 3 percent. Today, by comparison, the township's crime rate stands at 2,268 per 100,000.

This was not what some predicted.

That's because the pointy headed elitists who think they know everything about everything are convinced that murders are caused by guns, when in reality, they are caused by the people who have evil intent. If a delusional madman wants to go on a rampage for the purpose of killing as many random people as he can, he will go to a "gun-free zone" where he knows no one there will have the ability to defend themselves. I guarantee you, he won't go to Kennesaw, Georgia.


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Comments (31)

Kim, looking at the <a href... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Kim, looking at the Morton Grove(just north of Chicago) crime statistics available - scroll down -.I don't see any murders from the years in the charts..1999 -2005..so at least that's good...I can't comment on the other city Kennesaw,Ga. but I bet the warm weather has something to do with the big increase in population...still I'll grant you, an interesting crime result from the town in Georgia.

Kim, For once you ha... (Below threshold)
Allen:

Kim,
For once you have a very valid point. When most people are armed, crime does go down. But the bleeding hearts just cannot accept that.

All of my life I have been around firearms, and not one person in my family, from Grandpa on down to my youngest (30 yrs old) have had problems with guns. And none of them have ever used a gun illegally, but rest assured they damn well know how to use one, and when to (or have to) use it.

An armed society is a polite society, but the bleeding hearts think the cops can protect you. Where were the cops when the crazy killed all the people. Probably giving out speeding or parking tickets. Screw the lefties, learn how to shoot, and keep your arms close, it may be your life you save.

the city's crime rate incre... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

the city's crime rate increased by 15.7 percent immediately after the gun ban,

The criminals no longer have to kill you to take what they want. They know you're unarmed and defenseless so a gang of three or four simply take what they want. An unarmed public is the greatest thing that ever happened for a criminal.

I believe it was in Europe that gangs started kicks in doors (home invasion) and attacking with clubs when the idiots banned firearms.

While I'm an enthusiastic d... (Below threshold)
Actual:

While I'm an enthusiastic defender of Second Amendment rights, I feel that I should add some things to the Kennesaw side of the equation.

Most of the population growth in Kennesaw has been middle class and upper-middle class. I think this may have skewed the statistics by raising the population without raising the raw crime numbers as much, hence a drop in the per capita crime rate.

The law mandating gun ownership in Kennesaw has never been enforced and is unenforceable, so the effect of that law is minimal. The only effect is to dissuade "gun wussies" from living in a town that is so clearly pro-gun.

Georgia is a "shall issue" state and it is common to carry a handgun in the car or truck. There is some kind of Southern thing about guns (you wouldn't understand). This may have had a larger influence on crime rates than the Kennesaw ownership law.

For the record, I'm from South Carolina and live east of Kennesaw, just outside city limits.

After reading Freakonomics,... (Below threshold)
john:

After reading Freakonomics, I know better than to directly attribute the crime rates in either of these cities to the respective gun laws. There are too many unknown factors that could have influenced the numbers.

john: re: Freakonomics... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

john: re: Freakonomics

http://www.isteve.com/abortion.htm

Other freakanomics ;)... (Below threshold)

Other freakanomics ;)

http://www.stopglobalwarming.org

(cough) .. (cough) .. (cough)

;)

Does someone have available... (Below threshold)
Kyle:

Does someone have available the date on what each municipality spends per year on policing? The per capita crime figures look to be similar and I'm wondering whether we might see significant disparity in the policing ratios.

Crime is almost as chaotic ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Crime is almost as chaotic as weather.
======================

er, maybe more chaotic.<br ... (Below threshold)
kim:

er, maybe more chaotic.
==============

An honest evaluation of com... (Below threshold)

An honest evaluation of comparable 2003 FBI crime staistics deflates this myth of the lower crime rates in Kennesaw, Georgia vs. Morton Grove, Illinois which gun lobbyists have been recently promoting.

2003 Murder: Morton Grove 2 - Kennnesaw 1

2003 Robbery: Morton Grove 4 - Kennesaw 7

2003 Aggravated Assault: Morton Grove 12 - Kennesaw 15

2003 Larceny And Theft: Morton Grove 390 - Kennesaw 455

2003 Burglary; Morton Grove 70 - Kennesaw 89

Both cities have similiar populaions with 22.966 residents of Morton Grove and 25,183 in Kennesaw.

In addition, Morton Grove is a close suburb of Chicago, where some criminals no doubt may travel to commit crimes, inflating the local crime statistics. Kennesaw is more rural, where Marietta is farther away and their crime rates are probably more likely to be by local residents.

There really is no statistical proof here to support that the presense or absense of guns has made much impact on crime itself, but in general guns figure as a major factor in suicides both among teens and adults, domestic violence, accidents and murders, and account for the cause of death of over 33,000 persons each year.

My grandmother's brother lost his life to a hunting accident for example. And our family farm used to have problems with hunters illegally shooting pheasants on our property, nearly hitting our farm house when I was a little guy. I llater lived in a community during the 1968 race roits, and gangs in cars with the windows blacked out with shoe polish were driving through the neighborhood acting as snipers killing White residents. Gun violence now continues to be a problem among young gang members and even at high schools and a local shopping malls. A South Korean man who was watching a store for a few hours while his friend went to church was recently paralyzed from the neck down in a robbery shooting only blocks from my home. My mother was held up at gunpoint at her work. A business only a few doors down from my own had the shop owner murdered in a robbery. A man I know was injured for life in a robbery shooting in his business and had to work at the St. Vincent De Paul as a handicapped worker for the rest of his life. If guns are supposed to save lives, then I've never seen any personal proof of it in my own life.

Claims that guns save lives seem to be cancelled out by the far higher number of deaths caused by accidents, suicides and murders by a wide margin. However, I certainly would not advocate any ban on guns, but simply good laws to keep as many as possible out of the hands of the inexperienced with no safety training, criminals, alcohol and drug abusers and the mentally ill

Were the paraplegic and the... (Below threshold)
kim:

Were the paraplegic and the murdered shop owner armed?
===================================

Kim, probably they were not... (Below threshold)

Kim, probably they were not armed. But guns certainly did them no good.

In addition the FBI crime statistics still support a role of guns in over 33,000 teen and adult suicides, accidents, domestic violence or murder incidents and the crime statistics between Kennewaw and Morton Grove.

FBI crime statistics failed to prove that more guns made Kennesaw any safer than Morton Grove, but Kennesaw still has crime numbers higher than Morton Grove. In addition no good statistics on suicides on Kennesaw are easy to find, but would be another important factor to judge the prsense of more guns in that community by. More guns always coorelate with a higher incidence of some problems, and the reverse has never been proven.

on the wires right now...</... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

on the wires right now...

Armed Miss America 1944 stops intruder

Ramey said the man told her he would leave. "I said, 'Oh, no you won't,' and I shot their tires so they couldn't leave," Ramey said.

She had to balance on her walker as she pulled out a snub-nosed .38-caliber handgun.

"I didn't even think twice. I just went and did it," she said. "If they'd even dared come close to me, they'd be 6 feet under by now."

"Claims that guns save live... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Claims that guns save lives seem to be cancelled out by the far higher number of deaths caused by accidents, suicides and murders by a wide margin."

Not even close. The number of times that someone brandishes a gun and sends the bad guy running far outnumbers the accidents, etc... That's not even counting the number of bad guys who get shot by citizens protecting themselves.

Les, can you cite some FBI ... (Below threshold)

Les, can you cite some FBI or other statistic to support your claim? I offered FBI statistics to support my premises and conclusions.

But I don't doubt that guns can play an important role in some situations. However, once a person pulls a gun on a robber or burglar, they are also more likely to attempt to respond with some violence to avoid injury, death or capture. Most criminals want material things of value such as cash to support drug habits and are not interested in violence towards a victim. But guns will always escalate the situation, raising the stakes on both sides.

I had a mentally ill man threaten customers in a bookstore I ran with a machete back in 1983. I felt obligated to protect my customers and stood up to the mentally ill man and offered him a dollar to buy a cup of coffee if he'd just leave my customers alone. He backed down and no police were involved. His landlord cooperated in removing all weapons from his rented room and getting him the proper mental health help he needed. I even brought him home to dinner a few times when he had nothing to eat to prove that i had no ill feelings even though he threatened my life with the machete incident. This was certainly a far better outcome than shooting the fellow, and having to feel sorry for the rest of my life. No guns were involved.

I foiled a home invasion by a burglar of a retired minister friend who lived across the street one night when I drove by and noticed him trying to enter the home. This old man left a screen door open on a warm night which was an important home security mistake. Locking doors will do wonders to avoid home invasions. No guns involved.

When some thieves were attempting to steal the tires off one of our cars, I simply walked out to their car and took their keys out of the ignition and left them without transportation and a whole car full of stolen goods plus their license plate identity evidence and delivered this motherload of evidence to the police that I called. No guns involved.

Many persons in serious situations can leave the incident with a good outcome unless the criminal has a sadistic streak that enjoys hurting people to feel power because of their inadequate life. Guns don't always leave the situation in a positive outcome. Just using your head often works far better.

Completely ridiculous post,... (Below threshold)
Herman:

Completely ridiculous post, since the Morton Grove ban is only symbolic, anyone wanting to buy a gun being able to acquire one from any town nearby. In addition, that unconstitutional "You-must-own-a-gun-in-Kennesaw" law is not enforced.

Herman: "You-must-own-a-... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

Herman: "You-must-own-a-gun-in-Kennesaw" law is not enforced.

Just like the "No guns on VT campus" law wasn't enforced either!

Difference is obvious...if you're a criminal you're going to avoid Kennesaw...and consider VT a target rich environment! Which it was, dammit!

Paul H...I call bu... (Below threshold)
Bo:

Paul H...

I call bullshit.

No guns were involved.

I offered FBI statistics... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

I offered FBI statistics to support my premises and conclusions.

No, I think you didn't. But perhaps I missed it. Tell us again -how many times did you claim people brandished a gun thereby deterring a bad guy?

For me, it's like being asked to back up the claim that the sun rises in the east. I'm not going to do it. The numbers are not even close. If those stats are so important to you, go ahead and look them up.

As for your anecdotes; if you are suggesting that the way to deal with a mentally ill man threatening people with a machete is to offer him a dollar...well, maybe you should not suggest anything at all. People could really get hurt taking your advice. While I am not advocating just shooting the guy down for just standing there, I would be much safer, (and my customers would too) if I had a gun for protection. If he truly 'threatened your life' as you claim, then you are lucky to be alive after confronting him with your dollar.

I was taught to NEVER brand... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

I was taught to NEVER brandish a gun. Miss America 1944 was, apparently, taught the EXACT same lesson.

We were taught, when you PULL a gun...PULL the trigger.

Don't pull the gun until you are prepared to do so...and then DO SO!

She did.

She is alive and the morons are in jail. Period!

Paul, of course guns did th... (Below threshold)
kim:

Paul, of course guns did them no good. One was murdered and the other paralyzed. What a ridiculous answer. The question is did they have guns? If they didn't and had they had, would they be alright today? How much wood can a woodchuck chuck?
=======================================

Kim an Bo, maybe you both l... (Below threshold)

Kim an Bo, maybe you both lack the self confidence involved to stand up to threats. But I used my head and stopped an insane man with a machete in my bookstore store, a home invasion burglary of an elderly friend and thwarted some thieves in car by pulling their keys out of the ignition and calling the police.

Prisons are filled with persons who thought they were defending themself or property, and instead went too far by using physical force. I know of an 84 year old man who was thought he was defending his daughter from a physical beating from her abusive husband and pushed him down a flight of stairs, killing him, and is now serving a life sentence for murder instead of using his head and calling the police. If you choose to actually use a gun to thwart some crime, you need to make sure that you are within your legal limits before you decide to start firing off bullets in your community. You could find yourself behind bars. And this is from someone who is condering using my long education in psychology and social work to become a probation police officer.

Guns can cause you a great deal of legal grief if you are not within your legal rights to use such lethal force to respond to an incident when calling the police is a better option.

Paul Hooson: "Guns can c... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

Paul Hooson: "Guns can cause you a great deal of legal grief if you are not within your legal rights to use such lethal force to respond to an incident when calling the police is a better option."

It is, of course, best to contact a lawyer before either attempting to defend yourself OR calling the police. They can advise you as to what extent you are allowed to resist, what phrasing is permissable in your verbal responses, etc. They can also advise you as to whether calling the police could subject you to legal action, since in some situations your calling the police could be construed as "profiling" (see 'Flying Imams v. USAir').

Of course, if Paul "Batman" Hoosan is around he can simply save the day using his car keys.

Thx for the helpful tips, Paul. I understand your new line of martial arts clinics is due to open soon. I wish you luck, though still think the name "The Ghandi School of Self Defense" has, well, issues.

Justrand, as I noted above ... (Below threshold)

Justrand, as I noted above I have an interest in becoming a probation police officer. If anyone believes that they should own a gun, then I recommend gun handling and safety courses as well as understanding when you are legally allowed to pull a trigger or not. If you do use force in the wrong instance, then the legal penalty is up to life in prison.

Was I concerned for my own safety when I stood between the mentally ill man threatenining my customers with a machete. Sure I was. But I had an obligation as the store owner to protect my customers lives. I used my best psychology skills to make the situation turn out positive. A gun would have only led to years of sorrow on my part that I took a human life when the mentally ill man only needed mental health help.

Let's actually hear from some here with other real world experiences with a dangerous situation. Has anyone had a gun actually protect them in a dangerous situation or has anyone spent time in the legal system because a gun got them into trouble. I resolved three incidents of crime without the use of a gun, as well as many numerous incidents of shoplifting or theft as a store owner, and I can't see where a gun would have made a better outcome in any of the incidents.

Some of this gun tough talk here is simply trashtalk by some persons who really should not own guns. There is a lot of responsibility in gun ownership that is required.

Paul:1. No one her... (Below threshold)

Paul:

1. No one here has suggested that gun ownership does not involve a lot of responsibility. That is a strawman argument.

2. No one here has suggested that gun safety courses prior to issuance of CCW permits are somehow not necessary. That is strawman #2.

3. I'm sure everybody here is suitably awed with your impressive psych-fu skillz in defusing a potentially lethal situation involving a crazy man with a machete. I know I am. I'll even concede your point that what you did was better than shooting the guy. But the implied argument you seem to be suggesting is that this is, or perhaps should be, a universal solution for all of our confrontational situations, and this is where you lose me. I can imagine any number of situations where talking simply isn't going to do anything useful (a jealous psycho ex-boyfriend going after a woman is one that immediately comes to mind), and in any event, not everyone has the ability to master the Jedi mind tricks necessary for such situations and for this is where liberal CCW laws is precisely what's called for.

Depriving a person of the means to protect his or her self is cruelty.

Paul...I understand gun saf... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

Paul...I understand gun safety extremelyh well, thank you. 8 years in the Marines merely added to the gun safety and USE training my father gave me.

The #1 lesson my father taught me is this: "Do NOT pull a gun until you are ready to...and MUST use it. And when you DO pull the gun...FIRE."

Lesson #2 involved shooting "center mass".

Lesson #3 involved "fire discipine" (using the right amount of firepower, conserving ammo if necessary...etc)

If someone were, God forbid, to break into my house I would run through THOSE three lessons FIRST. Would I feel remorse for killing someone who broke into my house? Doubtful. Then again, I would have to be ALIVE to even have the possibility of feeling remorse.

The morons who decided to help themselves to Miss America 1944's belongings took the occupational risk of getting shot. They must have figured an 82 year old woman in a walker wasn't much of a risk. I do believe they are reconsidering their "judgement" about now.

p.s. the machette incident is interesting. Of course, the result could just as easily have been an obituary, with your cause of death listed as: "machette". hmmm?

Oregonmuse, I welcome your ... (Below threshold)

Oregonmuse, I welcome your views. I don't advocate any ban on guns. The Second Amendment protects that right as well. I only support that mature persons who can display a high level of responsibility seek ownership of a firearm, but as witnessed from personal experience in my own bookstore, many of the individuals who purchaed books or magazines about guns often had some very obvious mental health issues that were unsettling.

Unfortunately there are many persons with a weak self image drawn to guns like a magnet because they prop up their weak sense of self image and give a false sense of power. For these persons, a gun can be a very dangerous thing that can get them into trouble.

But potentially dangerous things can be safe if handled by responsible persons. I want a motorcycle for example, and that requires a certain set of responsibilities to drive in a safe manner. Motorcycles have their own safety classes, equipment and license requirements for example. Guns also require similiar safeguards for the protection of the owner and others as well that do not threaten the basic Second Amendment rights, but protect the owner and society.

Justrand, yeah death by mac... (Below threshold)

Justrand, yeah death by machete would not be my first choice. I think I'd pick old age if given a choice.

Paul, maybe those two had t... (Below threshold)
kim:

Paul, maybe those two had the self-confidence to stand up to threats, but not the firepower.
=======================

Paul, I have two experience... (Below threshold)
Steve:

Paul, I have two experiences for you. First, when I was in the army and a soldier got fed up with his superior officer and charged him with an unmounted bayonet, I was able to disarm him with my bare hands, without killing him although he did get injured with his own bayonet when I put his arm behind his back "chicken-wing" style. I offer this experience, before you accuse me of not having the self-confidence to stand up to a violent situation without a gun. The second experience was when a Airborne Ranger friend of mine and I were in a bad part of town in his new car, a couple of armed (one with a knife and one with a bat) and ill-intentioned youths decided that they wanted his new car more than we did, tried to car-jack us. We merely opened our jackets and put our hands on the pistols that they could clearly see with our jackets open and they both fled. No harm done. If the situation had escalated we both would not have hesitated to pull leather and end their lives. I have multiple black belts and my experience has shown that I can handle many situations - guns just increase my range - however guns are a great way to deter a situation from escalation.




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