Studying the gun issue

Published 2:53 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2017

After every shooting incident gun control advocates quickly come before microphones and tell us that guns are the problem.

Just last month, Gov. Terry McAuliffe was quick to find television cameras after the shooting at the Congressional baseball practice, repeating that same old message. He did this to play on the fear of people who had been shocked by the news.

This comes as the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced he would once again try to buy Virginia elections from his deep pockets.

A recent study of where murders occur should point to the reality that guns are not the problem, but rather societal issues. If people are serious in their concerns to reduce the number of murders in this country, we must change the ills in our society. Under no situation should the debate be about leaving innocent citizens unable to protect our families.

According to a study by John Lott, who examined the the latest available data, 51 percent of the murders occurred in just 2 percent of the counties of America. Fifty-four percent of the nation’s counties had no murders while another 15 percent had one murder.

On the other end of the spectrum, 37 percent of murders occurred in just one percent of the counties in the country and 31 percent in the next four percent of the counties.  Put another way, two-thirds of all murders in this country occurred in five percent of the counties.

These are some of the most populated counties, however, the worst one percent of counties house 19 percent of the population yet 37 percent of the murders.

The worst situation was in Los Angeles County. In 2014, 526 murders were recorded.  In the last couple years, Chicago has surpassed them.

The highest murder rate per 100,000 was Detroit, New Orleans; Newark, New Jersey; St. Louis, Cook County (Chicago); and New York, New York. Most of these cities limit who can legally own a gun — leaving innocent folks unable to protect themselves.

These numbers, as bad as they are for the cities, are less concentrated in those cities than a generation ago.  The change in most cases have been spread to rural and suburban counties as the opioid epidemic has spread across the nation. Often murders are associated with gangs and drug dealers who are fighting over drug territories.

We can do as Gov. McAuliffe and blame the problem on weapons, or we can look deeper and compare these cities with safer cities.

Drug dealing is the one greatest common denominator in these urban communities.  Gangs recruit teenagers with cash and drugs into a life of easy money.  Some of these dealers are here legally, but many are here illegally just to deal drugs.

Many of these young people see no other opportunity other than through dealing drugs.  They lack role models that provide a vision of life off the street. Without a vision of a different future, they live for the day rather than making life plans and decisions that include career training.

This is one of the reasons that I have spent time and energy to reform our education process.

Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the Virginia Senate. His email address is