While the gun control debate rages on among us here on the vine, countless other forums, tv and talk radio as well as in Washington and state houses across the country. There seems to be one key element overlooked by all but a few. Our enforcement of existing laws is failing.
The NRA has called for it, even the President Obama has stated we need better enforcement of existing laws. It's probably the one thing both sides have a consensus on is the need to improve enforcement on existing laws. Even so, the media fails to report it. No outlet right or left seems to want to touch it. Maybe they fear boring their audience, maybe they fear boring themselves. But the truth is, there is a serious failure of enforcement.
The uncomfortable truth is laws don't prevent crimes, they create them. Penalties provided by law don't either. They provide us recourse for those who act against society. Law enforcement provides us the tools to bring those who act against society to be held accountable. Only when all three work together do we have a deterrence to crime. Someone who might otherwise commit a crime will only be deterred when the both the penalties and risk of getting caught are greater then they are willing to assume.
In the case of someone inclined to murder, the greatest of crimes with the greatest of penalties, the only deterrence of the risk of caught. If we look at murder clearance rates across the country, we see a problem. It's too easy to get away with murder and the crime rates prove it.
In general, a homicide is considered cleared once an arrest is made for it within the calendar year. Actual conviction rates would obviously be lower. The U.S. as a whole had a mere 63.1% clearence rate for homicide from 1999 - 2008 according to THIS report. Despite California's tough gun laws and being a shall issue state which rarely issues gun permits, California has a higher than average homicide and a lower than average homicide clearence rate. Los Angelas country and Almeda country, homes to the higher crime cities of Los Angelas and Oakland respectively, fell below 50% clearence rate meaning, you had less than a 50% chance of getting caught.
In contrast, NYC cleared 59% of 2009 homicides according to this report with similarly restrictive gun laws and also had a lower homicide rate.
New Orleans in Loisianna which had the higest murder rate in the country last year cleared barely 30% of it's homicides and Chicago, the gun ban capital with 506 homicides in 2012 had a 25% clearence rate according to the Huffington Post. In Chicago last year, you had a 75% chance of getting away with murder!
None of this is to argue cause and effect. There are so many variable that affect why one city have more violent crime than another it's nearly impossible to rule on a source, or a solution. With that, my point is I think we need to focus on basics and not get lost on hyperbole and political agendas. We need to focus on solving crimes and enforce the most basic, universal law in all of humanity, muder.