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Gun Violence: Cultural Considerations

Some people attribute the incidence of gun-related crime in America to backward or insensible gun laws, but the data do not bear this out. Indeed, up until 2020, fewer Americans were dying as a result of gun violence. Indeed, this was the continuation of a trend that began about three decades earlier. Contrary to the popular misconception that America has become more and more violent over time, the data suggest that, up until 2020, it had actually become considerably safer. However, this is not the only story in the data. Indeed, there's a far more interesting tale to tell. Before we get there, let's start with the facts.

First, let's settle the debate on whether America has actually become a more violent place over recent decades. Fortunately, the facts are indisputable. As it turns out, the number of privately-held firearms and the incidence of gun-related homicides (both expressed by percentage change over that period) had managed a near-symmetrical divergence over the past three decades; the same is true of the relationship between the average number of guns per person and the number of gun-related homicides per capita. 

This decline in gun violence was part of an overall decline in violent crime in America. In fact, according to the FBI's data, the rate of violent crime in America had decreased by nearly fifty percent since its peak in 1991. On balance, up until 2020, America had become a much less violent place. 

Second, despite the long-term trajectory of gun-related crime, the United States has never been in such steep moral decline. At no time in American history has there ever been a higher incidence of single-parent households: seventy-five percent among black families, sixty-one percent among Hispanic/Latino families, thirty-nine percent among white families, and twenty-three percent among Asian families. These figures are vastly different from the data compiled half a century ago: Indeed, since 1970, out-of-wedlock birth rates have soared. In 1965, twenty-four percent of black infants and three percent of white infants were born to single mothers. By 1990 the rates had suddenly risen to sixty-four percent for black infants, eighteen percent for whites; and there are a number of outcomes particularly associated with single-parent households, not least of which is the probability of criminal activity and psychological disorders. If you assess the profile of the majority of the gunmen involved in mass shootings, you'll find that the majority of them come from broken and dysfunctional households, characterized by single parents, fatherlessness, and drug addictions. 

It’s also worth noting that the United States isn't even remotely one of the most violent countries in the world. Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East are far more violent; and if you're prepared to refer to Canada or European examples, take note of their scale and demographics, as they aren't nearly as large or as multicultural. Note that I didn't say "diverse". I said "multicultural", and I said that they aren't nearly as large. There is a significant difference between "diversity" and "multiculturalism", and these considerations, in addition to all of the others described here, distinguish America from every country in the world. Of course, these considerations are positively indispensable to any like comparison between data sets, and for any scientific assessment of any kind. 

As part of any such assessment, you’ll also find that the United States has far more major cities than any other country, and that the incidence (per capita) of gun-related crime is concentrated in those major cities and metropolises. It’s also worth noting that, relative to the likes of China’s major cities and others across the globe, American cities are not demographically representative of the country’s total population. This means that demographic influences are particularly relevant in the American case study. And no, contrary to the common misconception, population density needn't necessarily drive higher incidence of gun-related crime, relative to rural counterparts. Although generally true in America, certain comparisons reveal just the opposite; but once again, these outcomes directly relate to demographic compositions of the respective case studies. In the first, they are dissimilar, whereas in the second they are more alike. To demonstrate this point, we can look no further than the city of El Paso, Texas. More than eighty percent of El Paso's residents are Hispanic, and the vast majority of these individuals are of Mexican origin; and, as it turns out, El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States with a homicide rate of 2.4 per one hundred thousand residents. While there are plenty of crime-ridden cities in America with significant Hispanic populations, El Paso is just one example of monocultural harmony. This is one consideration that is, for obvious political reasons, routinely overlooked or ignored, but one that is absolutely essential for any honest assessment of this kind.

Now, because of their respective population densities and various ethnicities, China and India are often referenced for purposes of further comparison. However, despite their apparent ethnic diversity, they are not nearly as multicultural as the United States; their cities are, unlike the United States, fairly representative of the total population; and their incidence of single-parent households isn't even remotely comparable to that of the United States. The same same goes for Canada, any European nation, and every other country across the globe. Upon a close and honest assessment of the data, you'll invariably find that these outcomes have corresponded most reliably with the incidence of single-parent households in the United States, and that countries elsewhere across the globe still retaining their traditions and family values have not suffered the same fate as the United States. 

It is only through dishonesty or incredulity, generally one and the same, that so many are led astray from the truth. In this case, if we were to indulge the arguments made in favor of other nations and their favored policies, those of Chinese or Indian ethnicity would be expected to be far more violent in the United States, and yet they are no more violent in America than they were in their native lands. The same rings true for those of German, Canadian, and Scandinavian ethnicity. Indeed, this principle rings true for virtually every ethnic group across the globe; that, upon legally becoming an American, scarcely one of them spontaneously becomes more violent. Of course, this is not to say that immigrants are not violent, but only that they scarcely become more violent upon legally becoming Americans. 

On the demographics front, the two groups disproportionately responsible for gun-related crime in America are blacks and Hispanics/Latinos; they also happen to have the highest incidence of single-parent households. It's also worth noting that incidence of gun-related homicides is highest (by total) in predominately-black cities, and (per capita) throughout the regions of the United States dominated by blacks and Hispanics/Latinos. 

Ultimately, an honest and objective assessment of the data reveals a variety of factors generally responsible for the outcomes described in this writing. While no article could, in the interest of brevity, possibly seek to account for every conceivable factor, we are ultimately left with two particular factors strongly correlated with criminal activity: demographics and single-parent households. Where anyone seeks to resolve the problem of crime, especially gun-related crime, in America without first accounting for these factors, you can rest assured that his work is in service to some unrelated political agenda.  


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