Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Media vs. Guns Liberals Ignore the Facts to Keep Pushing Gun Control

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Media vs. Guns Liberals Ignore the Facts to Keep Pushing Gun Control

Article excerpt

Every year or so for nearly a decade, Fox Butterfield of The New York Times has written a story puzzling over what to him was a paradox: As the rate of violent crime went down, the prison population went up.

He should have paid more attention to the late Marvin Wolfgang of the University of Pennsylvania, "the most influential criminologist in the English-speaking world," according to the British Journal of Criminology.

In a ground-breaking study in 1972, professor Wolfgang examined the records of 9,945 males born in Philadelphia in 1945. Just 627 were chronic offenders, but they committed more than two-thirds of violent crimes, including all the murders.

For each offense for which they were arrested, they got away with eight to 11 other crimes, these chronic offenders said in interviews. When caught, they weren't punished much. If these "Dirty Seven Percenters" had been sent to prison for just a year after their third offense, there would have been 7,200 fewer serious crimes in Philadelphia, Mr. Wolfgang calculated.

Subsequent studies here and in Europe have also found that roughly 7 percent of the male population commits about two-thirds of violent crimes.

It never seemed to occur to Mr. Butterfield that crime went down because more criminals were being locked up. But at least he acknowledged the facts, and puzzled over them.

On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza killed 26 people, 20 of them children, in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Some elite journalists, in their advocacy of gun control in the wake of that horror, have abandoned all pretense of fairness and objectivity.

They call for a "national dialogue" on gun control. For many, this consists of saying nasty things about those who disagree with them. (The National Rifle Association should be declared a terrorist organization; membership forbidden, wrote Des Moines Register columnist Donald Kaul in what he called a "madder-than-hell-and-I'm- not-going-to-take-it-anymore" rant.)

If journalists today were more like Mr. Butterfield, they'd puzzle over "paradoxes" like these:

* Rates of violent crime are highest in communities with strict gun control laws, according to economist John Lott, formerly of the U. …

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