Seattle, according to a report in this morning’s Seattle Times – which trails by almost a month this column’s disclosure of the same information – enjoyed the lowest murder rate in more than 50 years during 2010.
Last year, according to the Seattle Police Department, there were only 19 homicides in the city, the lowest number since 1956, the year before Police Chief John Diaz was born.
There have been arrests in 15 of those slayings, the department reported. Additionally, four more arrests have been made in “cold cases” dating back to 1968.
This morning’s news revives a dilemma for gun prohibitionist organizations including Washington CeaseFire, which boasts 7,000 members statewide on its website. By comparison, the National Rifle Association has about 90,000 members in Washington State.
Here is CeaseFire’s dilemma: Explaining this low murder rate in the state’s largest city during a year when the number of concealed pistol license (CPL) applications and renewals surged to more than 270,000, and an increasing number of citizens purchased new or used firearms. This column discussed that here in December, when we reviewed FBI data from the first half of 2010 that, as it now appears, was laying the foundation for the more recent news of today.
The city’s homicide rate was the lowest since 1956—Seattle Times
This leaves the anti-gun lobby with not much to say about earlier forecasts that more guns in private hands, and more armed citizens going about their business would result in more killings and blood flowing in the streets. About half of the “Recent Incidents” detailed on CeaseFire’s website were about police shootings, and the group even had to include a shooting that did not happen in Washington State at all, but neighboring Oregon.
Nobody is saying that the presence of more armed citizens contributed to this decline in homicides and other violent crime, but at the same time, nobody can say that thousands of additional firearms in private hands have produced the bloodbath that had been predicted by public disarmament advocates.
The Seattle Times also noted that robberies were down by 20 percent in 2010, and that Seattle police have been energetic in crime fighting efforts. While the department suffered some bad headlines due to the John T. Williams case, discussed here, and a handful of other embarrassing incidents, it appears overall that Jet City cops are on the ball, on point and getting the job done. It would be a good idea to keep that in perspective.
Gun prohibitionists typically look at such a scenario and ask why people think they need to own firearms and have CPLs if violent crime is down so far.
That’s an easy one to answer. Good as they appear to be at fighting and even discouraging crime, Seattle police cannot be everywhere all the time. In a free society, we don’t want police on every door step. Savvy citizens understand that and accept it. For these citizens, having a gun is comparable to having automobile and homeowner’s insurance, and a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. You hope you never need to use it, while at the same time understanding that if you do need it, you have it.
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