7/01 Project Exile No Impact On Crime

Project Exile No Impact on Crime
Larry Pratt

The big reason for supporting the enforcement of federal gun laws (all of which the gun lobby opposed) called for by supporters of Project Exile is to lower crime and take the oomph out of gun control.

It turns out that the data do not support the claims of Exile supporters.

Richmond, Virginia was the flagship city for Project Exile. It was launched in 1997. Trouble is, crime went up that year, according to FBI crime records.

A review of Richmond’s murder record shows that murder did start dropping in 1995 and 1996 and resumed the downward trend in 1998.

What happened in 1995? Virginia’s concealed carry law was vastly improved in that year, forcing judges to issue concealed handgun carry permits to applicants unless they could prove they were criminals, insane, fugitives from justice or drug abusers.

Philadelphia is another city that followed suit in 1999, kicking off their Project Exile program with much ballyhoo. What did crime do that year? It went down.

A review of Philadelphia’s murder statistics shows that murder started declining in 1997 and 1998.

Exile can hardly take credit for either the Philadelphia or the Richmond decline.

What happened in Philadelphia in 1997? It was the first year that the anti-gun politicians of the city were forced to comply with the rest of the state and come under the “shall issue” concealed carry law as in the rest of the state (and in Virginia).

Dr. John Lott has shown from his massive 18-year study of all the jurisdictions in the U.S. that crime rates are only impacted by concealed carry laws. Namely, the easier it is for citizens to legally carry what they have a constitutional right to bear anyway, the lower the violent crime rates. Or, as Lott put it in his book title, More Guns, Less Crime.

Supporters of Project Exile (or its sequel, Project Safe Neighborhoods) would better spend their time working for reforms in the nation’s concealed carry laws rather than enforcing laws that not only are unconstitutional, but have nothing to do with fighting crime.

Gun owners certainly do not want to unleash more federal gun prosecutors (as called for in Project Safe Neighborhoods) with the attitude of U.S. Attorney James Comey as reported in the May 21, 2001 edition of U.S. News & World Report: “[G]un possession itself is a crime of violence.”

Crime will go down when more good guys are packing on the streets. The criminals already are carrying concealed. It’s time for the rest of us to follow suit.