If you don’t make mistakes you don’t make anything.

Old Proverb[1]

 [Our critics have been asleep lately, but that last blog woke some of them up. Here are a few of their better comments.]

Hey! Mr. Sallust, are you illiterate? In your blog you say “low and behold,” half the cops indicted over in the Freddie Gray matter are white, and the other half are black. I’ve heard the expression “Lo” and behold!It’s in my Bible. But what in the world does “Low” and behold mean? Cattle “low,” I guess, but why is it important to look at noisy cows? Or are you going to use a derrick to lower cows onto a stage, just to startle us? Behold!

Angry reader, you’re spot on! The correct word is “Lo,” and we’ve changed the post. Obviously we don’t know how to spell. But our intentions were good. We use old-timey expressions like “lo and behold!” to impress the reader. If we had known you were out there probably we would have just said “Wow! Look at that!” and moved on.

We got the idea from a hymn by Mr. Charles Wesley, who opened a description of the Almighty with “Lo! He comes with clouds descending …”[2] Admittedly that’s overkill if the subject isn’t God, but rather crime in Baltimore.

You say that the violent crime is decreasing, but use statistics that end with 2010. Don’t you have anything more recent?

Yes we do. The FBI compiles crime statistics, and its most recent information can be found at http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/crimestats . Currently the FBI reports that:

In 2013, an estimated 1,163,146 violent crimes occurred nationwide, a decrease of 4.4 percent from the 2012 estimate.

When considering 5- and 10-year trends, the 2013 estimated violent crime total was 12.3 percent below the 2009 level and 14.5 percent below the 2004 level.

See FBI, Crime in the United States 2013, available at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/violent-crime/violent-crime-topic-page/violentcrimemain_final

Your statistics on gun ownership seem a bit dated as well. Do you have anything more recent?

Yes. One can roughly track gun sales by counting the number of background checks performed in any given year. One successful background check more or less equals one gun sale. The National Instant Criminal Background System [NICS] Operations Report for 2014 states that, in 2014, it saw 20,968,547 such transactions. Of those, approximately 91 thousand [less than half of 1%] were denied.

The NICS also reports that, from its inception in 1998 to December 31, 2014, it processed a total of 202,536,522 background checks. That translates into a lot of guns bought over 16 years.

You can get the 2014 Report by going to the FBI website, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/nics , and searching the NICS links for Reports and Statistics, or you can simply click here: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/reports/2014-operations-report

Your discussion of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs [OMGs] was interesting, but you don’t do a very good job of sourcing this material. Are they really trying to recruit within our military industrial complex? You say yes, and your primary source is a BATF report from 2014; but you seem to have found that in the cloud, not from any official source. These days anybody can make a document that looks official. So how did you authenticate the [alleged] BATF Report.?

Point taken. Is the BATF report we cite a forgery, or is it real? Some in the press paraphrase it, so obviously they think it’s genuine. But that’s not enough for us. We should be able to find it on a Government website.

Well, so far we haven’t, but our failure’s not complete.We haven’t found that particular report, but it’s clear that the U.S. Department of Justice is very interested in gang activity,[3] including gang efforts to recruit folks in law enforcement and our military. The FBI’s 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment reported that “gang members in at least 72 jurisdictions … compromised or corrupted judicial, law enforcement, or correctional staff” in the prior three years. [4]

Moreover, people with military training can be especially useful to gangs,Gang recruitment of active duty military personnel constitutes a significant criminal threat to the US military.

Members of nearly every major street gang, as well as some prison gangs and OMGs, have been reported on both domestic and international military installations, according to NGIC analysis and multiple law enforcement reporting. Through transfers and deployments, military-affiliated gang members expand their culture and operations to new regions nationwide and worldwide, undermining security and law enforcement efforts to combat crime. Gang members with military training pose a unique threat to law enforcement personnel because of their distinctive weapons and combat training skills and their ability to transfer these skills to fellow gang members.

See FBI, 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment – Emerging Trends, available at http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment

DOJ revised and expanded on these themes in 2013. It noted that in 2012 DOD took steps to curb gang activity within the active duty military. Basically active duty service people were told they (a) must not “actively advocate supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine [or] ideology,” and (b) must “reject active participation in criminal gangs and in other organizations that advocate” such views or causes. Gang colors or clothing, tattoos or other body markings also were forbidden. [5] The operative DoD Instruction is 1325.06 (Nov. 27, 2009, revised Feb. 22, 2012). Check out paragraph 8 of Enclosure 3.[6]

This all tends to confirm what we said last time about gangs and the military, but did we authenticate the BATF report we quoted? So far, no. That document doesn’t seem to exist on any Government website.

How can Frank Rizzo and Tom Wolfe sit down and talk through their problems? According to Wikipedia[7], Wolfe is still very much with us; but Rizzo died in 1990.

That’s a metaphor [8], you ninny! Of course Wolfe and Rizzo can’t talk directly together, unless perhaps Mr. Wolfe has an Ouija Board.

It’s perfectly legitimate to use metaphors, and has been since the time of the Greek philosophers. “All use metaphors in conversation, as well as proper and appropriate words.” That’s Aristotle, by the way.[9]

The point is that people who think like Rizzo or Wolfe should spend more time talking to, rather than past one another. Who knows, if that happens some liberals might agree that there’s value in self-defense; and some conservatives might accept the notion that our criminal justice “system” should to be more fair, and less oppressive. I say “some” because folks truly married to their ideologies often can’t change them, regardless of the facts.

[So there you have it. Our explanations are almost as long as the original blog. These days, that’s the way things are. Make a mistake, and the explanations can take up a lot of time.]


[1] See Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (6th Edition, 2003) (henceforth, ODQ at __) at Proverbs, p. 623, n. 15.

[2] See ODQ at Charles Wesley, p. 828, 829, n. 9.

[3] See USDOJ, Motorcycle Gangs, at http://www.justice.gov/criminal/ocgs/gangs/motorcycle.html .

[4] See FBI, National Gang Intelligence Center {2011), at p. 33, available at http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment-emerging-trends

[5] See FBI, 2013 National Gang Report at p. 19, available at http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/national-gang-report-2013

[6] The DODI is available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/132506p.pdf

[7] To find his biography on Wikipedia, just go to the Wikipedia website and search Tom Wolfe, or simply click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Wolfe He should not be confused with the early 20th Century author, Thomas Wolfe, who was also very good.

[8] Literally, “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is used of something to which it does not literally apply.” See Compact Oxford English Dictionary (3rd Edition, 2005) at metaphor. Here I’m alluding to a conversation between a live and a dead person, something which isn’t really possible,

[9] See ODQ at Aristotle, p. 25, n. 10.