Cognitive Psychology

Our Increase In Violent Crime is Trump’s Fault


We’ve been very busy IRL here at Ye Olde Blogge, but things are starting to get back to what passes for normal before it all blows up again in August when I go back to my teaching job. Anywho. This is another post that feels like catch up with the old news and not responding to current news.

Anywho, this post addresses the “mysterious” uptick in violence that the US experienced in 2020 during the pandemic lockdown. Spoiler, it isn’t because of BLM, defund the police, or the George Floyd protests no matter what the GQP would want to gaslight us into believing.

Really, it is due to two things: (1) permission and (2) an increase in the availability of guns. So, let’s explore how both of these phenomenon combine to produce this increase in violence.

Permission or Changing Norms

Maybe you haven’t noticed but there’s been an uptick in interpersonal violence during the Great 2020 #COVID19 Pandemic what with anti-maskers punching people left, right, and center when asked to where a mask to protect the rest of us from their poor judgment. You remember those stories in the news, right?

We all know why those acts of violence were happening, right? They were happening because the Ol’ Pussy Grabber gave his followers permission to be violent. This is what we meant when we said Trump was changing our norms. The violence in the rhetoric on the right has been increasing from eight o’clock day one of the Trump candidacy. As the divide in our cloven politics deepens and widens, the anger and urge to use violence increases, especially by those who have been brainwashed on the take our country back and Second Amendment solutions rhetoric of the conservative grievance victimhood politics.

Essentially, Trump and his hateful band of useful idiots have shifted our normative behavior towards violence. Violence is in the air. Conservatives feel empowered to confront mask-wearers (thanks Tuckems!), progressives, Muslims, Jews, immigrants or anyone unfortunate enough to resemble a member of an identified threat to white supremacy, right Sikhs? All in an effort to take our country back!

All that partisan divide has done is divided the country into two distinct groups. The MAGA conservative radicalizing violent extremists on the one side and the rest of us who are terrified of their penchant for violence and oppression on the other. Turning our politics into a zero-sum game of if they win, our world is destroyed leads to any means to defend our world and way of life is justified.

Ergo, presto, magic-o! If I’m angry and afraid, you must be threatening me and I getta defend myself. The people committing the violence feel justified in doing so. They feel like violence is a good way to solve their problems. It didn’t used to be this way. This is what we meant when we said that Trump was changing our norms. Violence has become normal behavior.

The other part of this national orgy of violence equation lies in the increase in gun availability. When guns are available, guns get used. Ever notice how no one gets shot when guns aren’t available? You know what the surest way to not get shot is? Don’t have a gun around.

The Increased Availability of Guns

A funny thing happened on our way to social distancing and quarantining, people stopped at the gun store and bought guns. Lots of ’em!

As this Vox article, One possible cause of the 2020 murder increase: More guns, explains the increased number of guns has a greater explanatory value than the ever popular conservative whipping horse of the thin blue line holding the teeming hordes of violent Black criminals back from murdering and raping all the White people concerning the increase in violent crime and murder.

This argument tells us that there are three main reasons why there were less police protecting us from all the Black criminals but not enough to protect Congress from all the white ones during the 6 January Insurrection. First, because of the pandemic, policing changed. A significant number of police were sick with #COVID19 and unavailable for work. Another thing that happened is that there were a lot of George Floyd protests around the country and police resources were diverted to deal with them. And, third, all of the bad progressives calling for defunding the police hurt their feelings, so they decided not to do their jobs to teach us all a lesson.

While there is evidence that supports the decline in policing theory, it isn’t sufficient to account for the increase in violence and murder. One basic measure of policing activity is tallying the number of like stops and arrests. When you look at that data, it is clear that fewer police stops occurred and fewer people were arrested. However, it is also clear that guns were found during those stops in greater numbers than previous years.

As the number of stops, searches, and arrests decreased, the percentage of those interactions where guns were found increased as did the shear number of guns. In other words, folks were running around town with a lotta lotta guns.

Both the amount of violence and murders and the rate of policing were not evenly distributed across the year, so if the two were correlated, you’d expect to see them vary together. They don’t. For example, policing declined dramatically in March and April, but violence and mayhem didn’t increase. I guess even the criminals were home in lockdown, hunh? Policing dropped again in May after George Floyd’s murder, and violent crime increased. However, in the last few months of the year, policing increased, but violent crime didn’t decrease.

The once constant throughout the year? Police stops and searches were more likely to result in a gun being found. This wasn’t just a little disparity. The article offers the example of Chicago where police stops declined 70% January to May of 2020, but there was an 83% increase in the number of guns found by police! There’s a lot of armed Chicagoans out there before George Floyd’s murder and protests. This pattern was repeated in cities big and small across the country.

What is the take away from all of this? Chiefly, the cause of complex social behavior is difficult to assess and likely has multiple causes. Violence and murder in a society is a complex behavior. There is no one explanation no matter how much the right craves an overly simplistic explanation and begs its favored politicians to gaslight them.

That is the second takeaway, don’t let ’em gaslight you! Defund the police is unrelated to the increase in violence and murder across the country.

And, the third is that you can’t get shot when there ain’t no gun around to be shot at you. People still get just as angry and are just as violent, but without a gun, gun-related injuries cannot occur. We all know that gunshot wounds are far more lethal than any other weapon, so fatalities decline, too.

The take our country back rhetoric has resulted in all the gun fetishests fever dreams of taking up arms against oppressors cumming true! They can look out of their windows and doors at all the Blacks and Browns walking past and pretend that they are being oppressed and must defend themselves! Funny how that works, right? When you’re told that Black and Brown people are taking your country away from you, when you look at Black and Brown people, you feel threatened. When you’re told that using violence is necessary to stop the changes in our country, you are more likely to use violence when you feel threatened whether that is being asked to wear a mask, road rage, or seeing Black people living normal lives doing things that white people do all the time.

Increases in violence in our society only serve one purpose, keeping our society and culture chaotic and people divided into distrustful groups. And, that helps keep us from effectively unrigging the system so that it serves the interests of of the middle and lower classes more than the 1%.

Since you’ve read to here — okay, you haven’t given my bounce rate — you may as well join the mailing list. You liked what you were reading, obv!

Image Attribution

“Gun laws fail safety test: Greens” by publik16 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

22 replies »

    • Howdy Krista!

      Welcome on board! We love the nickname Ol’ Pussy Grabber because it reminds us that he is a confessed rapist, and never should we forget that.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

  1. The increase in the sheer number of guns also correlates with rates of gun use in domestic violence and suicide. Add to that financial stress, unemployment, and isolation in pandemic lockdown (being cooped up with spouse and kids). But the permission and fear mongering probably make the most difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      One of the things that I didn’t stress was just the number of people who were carrying guns out in public whether legally or illegally. To have an 83% increase in the number of guns found during police stops while conducting 70% fewer stops means that people were carrying multiple guns. To make it more concrete and demonstrate my pathetic math reasoning skills: let’s say police made 100 stops and found 50% of the stops resulted in finding guns, so out of 100 stops, 50 of them included guns. A 70% drop in stops, would mean that police only made 30 stops. An 83% increase in gun finds means that 40 more guns over the 50 were found during the 30 stops. That would mean that 90 guns were found in those thirty stops. What is happening when fewer than 30 people are found to be carrying 90 guns? That’s insane. People are not feeling safe. That’s due to the public rhetoric around political strife and policing.

      When you add the anger and stress that people are feeling due to our politics and the pandemic, then we’re going to see an increase in violence and the accessibility to guns just means they’ll be used and more deadly encounters will occur. This is nuts, but it serves the GQP purpose of keeping us uncertain and scared.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep. Once you persuade a large number of people that both; (A) They have an absolute right to carry any type of gun anywhere, anytime, for any reason or no reason. And (B) Deadly danger is everywhere. Add to that the idea that somebody want to take their guns away, and you have this madness. Now, we have one or more states eliminating any permits, background checks, or any demonstration of competence with the weapon for concealed carry — essentially that any adult who has not been somehow (criminally or for mental health reasons) adjudicated as ineligible can buy and carry a gun. They also don’t have to be sober. There is no DUI when it comes to guns.

        Somewhere, I saw or heard a comparison of the number of guns in the country and he number of people who do not own guns, or more than one gun. The conclusion was that a relatively small number of people own many, many guns.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          I imagine that gun ownership follows the 80-20 rule: 20% of the population is owns for 80% of the guns. It may be shifting now, though. Gun proliferation serves to keep our society chaotic and fearful. An armed society is a fearful society. It also means that sooner or later we’re going to see widespread significant armed conflict between segments of our society. We have Black militias and white supremacist militias. There is a very good chance we’ll see it come to blows much like we did in the early Jim Crow days when white mobs burned Black neighborhoods.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

          • When every issue is framed as zero-sum, them or us, violence is all but inevitable.

            In a way, the gangs of neighborhoods of color quite resemble militias, and those young men have a lot of guns too. Give them a common enemy, and their intramural feuds will be set aside for the emergency.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Howdy Bob!

              The prospects of real third-world type internecine fighting is frightening. I just hope it never comes to that.

              What’s clear from the DoJ filings in the 6 January Insurrection is that the event was planned by the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, and the Oath Keepers. The FBI is working hard to dismantle all of them from the top. That may actually blunt anything that may happen in August when Trump is supposed to be reinstated. However, it gives plenty of time for a new generation of leaders and organizations to develop before 2022.

              What’s clear is that this is a fight that we’ll have on our hands for years to come.

              Huzzah!
              Jack

              Liked by 1 person

              • It is a fight that should have started seriously long ago. But for too long the “militias” were portrayed as a bunch of guys playing soldier in the woods with paint balls. The FBI got too cautious after Ruby Ridge and Waco, and then distracted by the over-hyping of the Al Quid A threat.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  I remember in the run up to the 6 January Insurrection that I had assumed the FBI had infiltrated the militias and was keeping an eye on them. I guess that assumption was wrong. They just weren’t focused on them. In some ways, it is more of the disbelief that it could be happening. A failure of the imagination because it is too great of a violation of our normative belief system. Who could be against democracy? Who could want to overthrow the American government? It’s difficult to accept that that is what is happening now, but, luckily, they’ve managed to convince us.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Garland prosecuted the Oklahoma City bombing case. He knows homegrown terrorism. I’m glad he’s there for that reason. It’s FBI Director Wray that I worry about. Anyone that was touched by Trump could be corrupted. You’ve got to question them all.

                      Garland certainly has his work cut out for him. He’s got a lot to prosecute and investigate and sort out. I’m always amazed when my social media fills with “What’s wrong why hasn’t Trump or other cause celeb been charged yet?” He’s an institutionalist and that will make him do some weird things like the E. Jean Carroll case, but he’ll get to the things that need getting to, I’m sure.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Asking a guy like Garland to hurry, jump the gun, go off half cocked, or any such thing is just dumb. He has succeeded as a prosecutor (OK City, Enron, mob cases in NY, etc.) by being methodical and making sure all the “i”s are dotted and “t”s crossed, and witnesses ready and prepped. And nobody in his cross-hairs should be anything but scared and lawyer-ed up, and not get caught destroying evidence. So, he knows domestic terrorism, financial crime, conspiracy, and organized crime – white collar, blue collar, camo collar, and no collar.

                      Unfortunately for Trump and some of his circle, Garland is exactly the type of personality and professional they can never understand. They will miscalculate.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Prosecutors don’t bring cases — or at least shouldn’t — unless they “know” they can win. That’s why most cases are settled out of court. Garland knows how to do this. Most of us can’t appreciate the scale at which he as to do this.

                      It’s a problem with social media. It distorts our expectations by subverting our certainty. We know so-and-so is guilty of a crime, so why can’t we just lock him up? Well, that’s not how justice works in a democracy; that’s how justice works in an autocracy.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Those who feel offended or victimized have always been impatient with prosecutors. Social Media, political polarization, and ignorance of the process have greatly amplified that tendency.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      There is a body of work in psychology concerning how social media, the Internet, and screen time have changed the hardwiring of our brains. It suggests that the sustained concentration that is necessary for extended reading is not very widely shared among us. Many people if not most no longer can tolerate sitting and reading for hours at a time as we all once did. One of the factors contributing to this impatience and demand for “justice” is this expectation for immediate gratification that our modern online life provides us.

                      I’ve noticed that there is a lot of repetition on my social media timelines. People saying the same things that they’ve already said in a variety of ways and people all saying the same things in their own ways, but also, sometimes just out right plagairizing others.

                      I’ve noticed in myself this line of thinking that after I’ve condensed my thoughts on a subject down to a social media-sized bite that the issue should be resolved. I’ve kind of had the same thoughts with the blog. It’s the now that I’ve resolved it for myself personally, why isn’t everyone not only in agreement but following through?

                      If I didn’t feel that social media was necessary to promote the blog and maintain personal friendships, I’d want nothing to do with it.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Hmmm – Humans tend to have trouble with complexity and nuance, and that is exacerbated when every issue and question gets Meme-ized and reduced to political slogans. Add in the purveyors of outright lies and disinformation, and people get brain burn if they try to sort it out.

                      I avoided FaceBook for a long time and only got to it when I went looking for some people I’d been out of touch with and Google searches kept turning up their FB pages. Now, I limit it to about 30 minutes per day, and not on the smart phone.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I’m pretty much off FaceBook just because they’ve damaged our democracy so much without showing much remorse or attempts to rectify the situation.

                      Complex questions tend to get reduced to an easier question, which makes the best memes on an issue. Nuance tends to map onto black-and-white divisions,which, again, lends itself to meams and strident absolute declarations. No where is this clearer than our response to #COVID19 and the changing developing science around it.

                      Republicans tend to exploit these human tendencies in their messaging. We really are quite vulnerable, which is why we need to elect people that will protect us from our own bad tendencies. We need people of integrity elected to higher office.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

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