Do Some Criminals Turn To Guns Over Feelings Of Animosity?


In 1880, says the Washington Post, journalist Horace Redfield wrote that states belonging to the former Confederacy had a murder rate four to 15 times higher than that of Northern states. Whites in rural Southern areas still have a homicide rate 1 1/2 times higher than that of their Northern counterparts, said Matthew Lee, a Louisiana State University sociologist. The Post says Redfield showed more caution in his book than did Sen. Barack Obama, who suggested at a California fundraiser that economic deprivation in small-town America caused people to turn to guns, religion, and xenophobia.

Lee, whose analysis of homicide rates was published in the Social Science Journal, said people in Southern states overwhelmingly told him they would shoot first and pick up the phone afterward. Criminologist Richard Wright of the University of Missouri–St. Louis and colleague Scott Decker tracked down 80 armed robbers and asked why they chose particular victims and particular locales for their crimes. Wright found that the obbers picked targets based less on how much money they thought they could extract, and more on feelings of animosity. Robbers told Wright and Decker that they went after people who made them feel inferior.


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