Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2012

Numbers show decrease in gun violence

August 11, 2012


About the statistics

The statistics used in this story were obtained through a Kansas Open Records request to the Lawrence Police Department. The department provided the information for a fee of $283, which paid for the staff time required to fulfill the request.

Shootings and other firearm and weapons-related crimes in Lawrence have dropped significantly since 2006, according to data provided by the Lawrence Police Department.

A Journal-World open-records request revealed the following about firearm and weapons-related crimes in Lawrence:

• Confirmed shootings reached a five-year high in 2009, at 40, but dropped to 14 in 2010 and 11 in 2011.

• Crimes involving a firearm averaged 51 per year between 2006 and 2011, but dropped to 37 in 2011.

•Reports of disturbances with weapons dropped from 170 in 2006 to 106 in 2011.

•The number of guns seized by police dropped from 200 in 2006 to 71 in 2011.

•There have been no shooting deaths in Lawrence since 2008.

Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib said reducing gun violence remains a high priority within the department.

“As much as possible, we concentrate on gun and gun violence crimes from an investigative standpoint,” he said.

The local decrease in such crimes and reports follows a national trend of declining violent crime, said Michael Birzer, a criminal justice professor at Wichita State University. But why they’ve dropped is a complicated question.

“There are a constellation of factors,” Birzer said. “I don’t think you can lock down one single factor.”

Some of the decrease could be attributable to the natural fluctuation of crime statistics and how police categorize certain crimes. But Birzer said efforts by law enforcement to make streets and communities safer, through proactive community policing, shouldn’t be discounted as one of the factors.

“A big part of it is policing strategies,” Birzer said.

Khatib echoed some of Birzer’s comments about natural ebbs and flows in crime statistics. But Khatib also said his department has worked closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on the prosecution of gun crimes that are federal offenses.

Even with decreases in shooting crimes, it’s common for public perception to lag behind the statistics and for the public to believe violent crime and shootings are on the rise, Birzer said. That can be especially true with high-profile violent incidents, such as the July shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater and the recent shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

“It brings the attention back to gun crimes,” he said.

Confirmed shootings in 2011

Lawrence police were able to provide statistics about shootings as far back as 2006 and detailed information about the 11 confirmed shootings in 2011.

Those 11 cases run the gamut of seriousness and include everything from police finding shell casings after a report of gunshots to a suspect firing a gun into a crowd of people. No one was injured in any of the cases, according to police.

Two of the more high-profile cases occurred at area bars. In June, an unidentified man fired a gun into a crowd of people gathered outside The Cave, 1200 Oread Ave., following a fight. In October, a 21-year-old Leavenworth man shot at employees of Taste Lounge, 804 W. 24th St. Two months later, a 28-year-old Lawrence man fired a weapon at a person near the same club, which has since had its license revoked by the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Commission after a third shooting this year.

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2011 confirmed shootings

Detailed description of confirmed shootings in Lawrence in 2011.

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Firearm crimes reported to police

Chart depicts firearm-related crimes reported to Lawrence police between 2006 and 2011.

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Weapons-related calls

A recap of weapons-related calls into emergency dispatch between 2006 and 2011.


1southernjayhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

Too small of a statistical pool...doesn't mean much.

LadyJ 5 years, 10 months ago

Knew I would find Roe here. Bea should be here shortly.

RoeDapple 5 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, the tired old "correlation doesn't prove causation" crowd should be here shortly.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

Here. I'll go.

It could just as easily be the (false) public perception that violent crime is on the rise or that "Obama is going to take all the guns" that leads gun consumers to purchase more firearms, rather than an increase in gun ownership leading to less gun violence. You can't say that an increase in gun ownership lowers the gun violence rate any more than you can say that baby on board signs decrease car seat deaths.

Either way, less gun crime = hooray.

irvan moore 5 years, 10 months ago

it's the economy, people can't afford guns and ammo

Jim Phillips 5 years, 10 months ago

Hmmm! That must explain why gun sales at Bass Pro Shop in Olathe are up over last year, which was a great year for gun sales. Thanks for straightening that out. And before you ask, I know because I work the gun counter there.

RoeDapple 5 years, 10 months ago

By the way, thanks Shaun. I've been wondering about these numbers for Lawrence for some time.

Shaun Hittle 5 years, 10 months ago

RoeDapple, Sure thing. I actually expected a rise in such cases, as it seems the public sentiment is that these crimes are on the increase. But, the numbers are the numbers.

Shaun LJW

50YearResident 5 years, 10 months ago

Down since 2006? Isn't that the year Concealed Carry became Law? I wonder if that has affected the numbers? Ofcoures, I know the answers.

Wiry 5 years, 10 months ago

You are as clueless as rest of NRA nuts as to why.

RoeDapple 5 years, 10 months ago

Clueless? The rise in crime for so many years was blamed on guns and gun owners, yet as restrictions are lifted and the increasing number of states allowing concealed carry see crimes reduced, the anti-gun crowd puff around mumbling about surveillance improvements, correlation doesn't prove causation, natural trends, etc.

Funny how when the facts don't fit their fantasy they just manufacture a few 'facts' to toss about so they can remain in denial.

BlackVelvet 5 years, 10 months ago

"Funny how when the facts don't fit their fantasy they just manufacture a few 'facts' ...." It's rather Obama-ish if you ask me.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

The rate of gun deaths also fell in years when gun restrictions weren't being lifted. The most dramatic fall in gun deaths seemed to happen in the late 90's, and I don't recall a huge push to deregulate everything. In fact, that's around the time the Brady Bill was going into effect, not that I'd argue cause and effect on that one, either. The timing doesn't match up completely.

In fact, I'd argue that the Donohue-Levitt hypothesis is probably the best explanation.

FlintlockRifle 5 years, 10 months ago

Roe, I will agree with you 100%, as most gun savvy gun people know all the hoops the anti gun people are putting up for honest gun people to jump through. Have any of the gun haters every shot a pistol or rifle at a target , pure enjoyment and so relaxing to spend some time at the range.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

FYI - I've been shooting guns since I was 12.

Kirk Larson 5 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, gun violence in America has dropped from really, really, really, really high to really, really, really high!

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