On Thursday, Minneapolis station WCCO reported on guns and crime in Minnesota. Anchor Frank Vascellaro's introduction: "More people are carrying guns than ever before, but the crime rate remains low." Imagine that.
Reporter Pat Kessler also treated more guns and less crime as paradoxical.
Reporting on crime and guns has been infested with the "Fox Butterfield effect." It is named after a New York Times reporter, who in November 2004 was surprised that:
The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell.
Later, a puzzled Butterfield referred to "the paradox of a falling crime rate but a rising prison population." Butterfield never considered the idea that fewer bad guys on the streets might lead to less crime.
The Butterfield effect as it applies to guns is the idea journalists are similarly reluctant to accept that armed citizens can better protect themselves and others. Potential criminals are deterred when a significant portion of the population is armed, while determined criminals limit their targets to known gun-free situations. One would expect fewer crimes as a result. Researcher John Lott has demonstrated that this is indeed the case.
... PAT KESSLER, WCCO: We took a very hard look at these numbers, and we did find that Minnesota has a very high rate of gun ownership, one of the highest in the country. But it has a relatively low rate of violent crime.
Minnesota's violent crime rate hit a 50-year low in 2016, according to the FBI. And in 2017, the state set a new record for firearms background checks.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System reports it processed nearly 684,000 checks on gun buyers in 2017.
... Minnesota set another 2017 record too. The State Department of Public Safety reports that 282,188 Minnesotans now have permits to legally carry firearms in public ...
... An estimated 36.7 percent of Minnesotans do have some form of gun ownership. But there is still an awful lot we don't know about guns in Minnesota. For example, we don't know exactly how many gun owners there are. We don't know the number of total guns in Minnesota. And Frank, we also don't know how much ammunition is bought every year, and how much is kept by gun owners.
Sadly, as Lott noted in a Friday FoxNews.com column, so-called "gun-free zones" prove that fewer guns lead to more violent crime. In the case of America's schools, that endangers children (link is in original):
... (There is) one change that might have made a difference (in preventing school shootings): abolishing gun-free zones, where the defenselessness of general citizens is guaranteed by law.
... Nationwide, over 98 percent of such mass shootings attacks since 1950 have also been in gun-free zones.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.