Does Less Carding Equal More Gun Violence?


You can laugh or cry in response to the conveniently alarmist rhetoric issued by police officials that goes something like this: “All of this unwarranted criticism of carding – and, by extension, the implication that our officers are racist – has produced a dangerous situation in which gun violence in Toronto has spiked considerably.”

It’s basically an updated (and somewhat less rabid) version of the classic Old South claim that halting racist lynching would lead to rampant black-on-white rape. In any era, and in any locale, you can never take your heel off the black neck, you see….

Of course, one look at the available data shows that, for example, in 2012 when carding was rampant there were 22 shooting deaths (as of August 10) whereas in 2015 – when carding numbers are comparatively very low – there have been 15 shooting deaths to this point of the year. Here are the year to date numbers that allow for year-by-year comparisons:

Now, then, what’s the obvious police rejoinder? They would say the locus of the problem is not really shooting deaths; the issue, instead, is shooting injuries. There were 50 shooting injuries in 2014 but 88 in 2015, a 76% increase, all of which, again, refer to numbers as of August 10 for both years.

This leaves us with one of two possibilities:

(1) There has actually been such an increase in shooting injuries, though (a) the numbers are still lower than 2012 and (b) there is no evidence that the increase has anything to do with a decrease in carding.


(2) The has been no such increase and the police are manipulating numbers in order to create a climate of fear with an eye toward discrediting carding critics. After all, the injury figures are not subject to cross-verification (say, with reference to hospital statistics on admissions for shootings) and it seems odd that a sharp increase in injuries co-exists with no increase in deaths. In all other years (2012-2014) there is a clear relationship between the two figures in the sense that they rise and fall together.

Usually police forces are inclined to engage in the downward manipulation of victimization figures, as we’ve seen in jurisdictions like New York  (see, also, the relevant book by a retired NYPD captain) but, obviously, they can be shifted upwards as well.

Take your pick – or formulate another possibility. Whatever the case, police crime statistics should never be treated as unimpeachable holy writ, especially when it comes to organizations that win secrecy awards.


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