Gun permits up in Shelby County as crime goes down

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - More Mid-Southerners are turning to personal protection, and as the number of gun permits goes up, more gun owners are firing back at criminals.

Recently over the span of two days, Memphis police worked two separate incidents where gun owners fired on potential attackers.  But according to Richard Janikowski, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Memphis, crime is actually decreasing.

"Most crime, including violent crime, is down substantially," he said.

While violent crime statistics are on the decline, another number is on the rise: valid handgun permit holders in Shelby County.  On January 1, 2006, there were 28,601 in Shelby County.  Two years later, there were 32,925.  Now, 38,130 have valid handgun permits.

We asked Janikowski if it was a coincidence that crime is down as the number of handgun permits rises.

"I'm not sure one has a direct effect on the other," he said.

According to Janikowski, state laws allow guns in more places, resulting in more licensed carriers.  That, and common perception of the city.

"I think we now have a situation that's been growing over the years, where simply media coverage of crime surrounds people literally 24 hours a day, and that affects their perceptions," he said.

In reality, Janikowski said, crime stats are down as a direct effect of crime-fighting initiatives like Blue C.R.U.S.H., data-smart policing, and Operation: Safe Community.

"We've been able to see the effectiveness of data-driven policing by both MPD and the Sheriff's Office by the reductions in crime that have occurred since 2006," he said.

Janikowski said the one violent crime on the rise is domestic violence, an issue he said goes beyond policing and requires a community-wide response.

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