The increase in gun homicides documented in the Emory University study is attributable almost exclusively to one factor: a nearly 60 percent increase in homicide fatalities among black men. Not over a period of many years–but in a little over one year.
And what year was that? 2020. And what happened in 2020? The death of George Floyd, and the subsequent revelation that black lives especially matter.
Yes, but not in the way intended. Not by a long shot. That death and revelation brought in its train myriad consequences. Defund the police. The war on cash bail and the release of numerous criminals. The demoralization of police, who were instructed explicitly and implicitly that arresting black male offenders was a career risk, and the subsequent surrender of the streets to the thugs. And on and on. (The release of many from jail because of COVID didn’t help either.)
This is as close to a natural experiment as can exist in social science. An exogenous shock–the death of one man–leads to a tectonic shift in law enforcement, especially with regards to a particular demographic. The result?: a hyperbolic increase in homicide rates in that demographic. (I note that the previous uptick observable in the chart in 2014 corresponds to the proto-Floyd event, the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, which was the catalyst for Black Lives Matter.)
This is as close to a definitive proof of causation as is possible in observational social science.
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