The Wild West?

2003-08-26

Seems there's quite a conversation going on out there about relative crime rates in Europe vs. America. Many Europeans like to think of America as the wild west, with lots of shootouts, guns blazing, high noon, and all that. The statistics show that property crime (such as home break-ins) is higher -- often much higher -- in many European countries, including England, Sweden, and Spain. American murder rates are higher, but are just about the same as those in most of Europe if you exclude one population of Americans: young black men from the inner cities. Overwhelmingly, blacks are killing each other ("Between 1976 and 1999, 94% of black murder victims were killed by other African-Americans." -- USA Today). The same USA Today article notes that "nearly two-thirds of black homicides were drug related" during that same period. And young black men are not killing other because they're stoned or high, but because they're involved in the selling of substances that have been made illegal, thus astronomically increasing the price, leading to turf wars rather than the kind of marketing techniques that are normal in a free society. The standard response to U.S. murder rates is gun control. But in general guns are not the problem -- what raises American rates above the expected averages in other Western nations is the brutal mix of the war on drugs and an inner-city culture of ignorance and despair (in which a large part is played by the decrepit state of schools in the inner cities -- but that's a topic for another post). Don't you think maybe it's time to consider real solutions?


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal