20 June 2003
Eric Scheie looks at this Philadelphia Inquirer story about the horror of children being shot to death, and discovers that most of them aren't children at all. He quotes this statement by the group Philadelphia Safe and Sound:
Guns and youth homicide in Philadelphia are closely linked. Between 1995 and 1999, more than 85 percent of all homicide victims ages 7 to 24 were killed by guns. Within the broader community efforts to combat crime and violence, intervention must be targeted and focused on youth-related crime. For example, increased efforts to reduce the number of guns available to youth would cut the number of juvenile homicides.
Note the use of the term "youth", and the age range quoted: 7 to 24. You'd think that people on the high end of that scale wouldn't qualify as children. And a graph published by the group, helpfully reproduced by Scheie, reveals that the 18-to-24 crowd legally adults makes up 75 to 90 percent of those "youth" deaths. If you read the Inquirer story in a hurry over morning coffee, you might think that hundreds of Philadelphia grade-schoolers are being mowed down in a hail of gunfire on a routine basis, and it simply isn't true.
All this number-juggling, as you might surmise, is being done to justify tighter gun controls. What they really want, of course, is a button on the Mayor's desk which, once pushed, will make every firearm in southeastern Pennsylvania disappear into thin air. Needless to say, if this actually worked, it would incapacitate gangsters and thugs only long enough to head across the river and pick up fresh heat in Jersey, while leaving J. Upstanding Citizen royally screwed.
For the purpose of argument, let's not mention anything about the Second Amendment here. Let's just assume that the city of Philadelphia is actually able to ban guns, and every law-abiding citizen from the Main Line inward turns in his/her weapons. Are all the guns gone? Of course not. The criminals aren't giving up their guns. What happens to the crime rate? Nothing good. And you know what? I bet Philadelphia grade-schoolers can probably understand this better than the hysterical adults screaming about gun control.