Originally Posted by Alpine
Do notice that the 90% figure is making a different claim than the 67% figure from the DOJ study. The DoJ found that 67% of murderers had a violent felony in their record, while Mr. Kates bases his claim on the fact that "90% of murderers in NYC and Baltimore "had criminal records."
Originally Posted by Grapeshot
In other words, we are looking at three different categories of criminal records: violent felons, all felons, and all those with a criminal record (which is probably taken to be everything from violent felonies right on down to minor misdemeanors, but usually excluding minor traffic violations and other infractions). We should also note that the DoJ study is nationwide, while Kates seems to be basing his numbers on two specific major urban areas.
If I had to guess, I'd guess that Kates misstated the "90% are felons" when the accurate statement would be "90% have criminal records".
In any event, whether 90% of 67%--and it is tough to argue with DoJ crime stats of this nature--the closing statement from Kates and the crux of Alpine's post remains materially valid:
In sum, guns or no guns, neither most murderers nor many murderers—nor virtually any murderers—are ordinary, law-abiding, responsible adults. This conclusion is so invariably reached by homicide studies that the 1998 study by David Kennedy and Anthony Braga describes the fact that murderers are almost invariably veteran criminals as a standard “criminological axiom.”
While the heat-of-the-moment, middle-class "he was also so quiet and polite" murderous lover cases make the news, they are the anomaly and not a rational basis for any broad public policy, much less infringements of any constitutionally enumerated individual rights.
If we want to dramatically reduce the number of murders (and other violent crimes) committed in this nation, the obvious place to focus is on the rather small number of individuals who engage in an escalating pattern of criminal activity. I'm sure the insurance industry has a couple of actuaries they could spare for a weekend to church the 100 years of available data to tell us where it makes the most sense to interdict this pattern and remove the criminals from society long term. My guess would be somewhere around the first violent felony is a good time to impose a 35 to 45 year sentence. I doubt very many murders are committed by 60 year olds.