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Old April 21, 2000, 01:45 AM   #1
dZ
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Letter to the editor in my local free fishwrapper:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>This is Montgomery County, not Dodge City http://www.gazette.net/200016/montgo...rs/8276-1.html

Apr. 19, 2000

I am proud that Maryland now leads the nation in enacting sensible gun control laws.

While I respect the Second Amendment and the right of law-abiding citizens to possess guns for sporting, hunting or
self-protection purposes, I was appalled at the letters authored by Bruce Carlen, John Latham and Bernard Poppert ("There is
no such thing as a 'Smart Gun,'" April 5).

What sort of dark, fear-filled world have these people created in their fevered imaginations if they think that guns are
necessary to protect against hunger, criminals and oppressive governments?

Carlen says we should study the American Revolution. I agree. If we examine that struggle for our independence, we will find
that while ragtag, ill-disciplined and unreliable local militias did make a contribution to winning our freedom, it was the
Continental Army raised by the government and under its authority -- and whose soldiers turned their guns in at the end of the
war -- that won the conflict.

And I agree that on the lawless frontiers of our country, the possession of firearms and a citizens militia were certainly needed.
But this is not now the 18th century, and Maryland or any other part of our country in the 21st century is certainly not the
frontier.

While crime is a serious problem in our country, it concerns me that some people think its remedy is some sort of Dodge City
in Montgomery County in which one bangs away at criminals real or imagined and in which a heroic Molly Pitcher of a wife
is ready to seize the gun from her husband's bloody, dying hand to continue the eternal battle against crime.

In the real Dodge City, lawman Wyatt Earp enforced the peace by making the citizens check their guns before entering the
saloons.

I'm surprised that a smart developer hasn't discovered a profitable niche market by offering tract blockhouses with thick stone
walls and narrow slit windows where these people can stand guard ready to defend themselves against marauding criminals
and, presumably, the federal government's Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents.

William K. Schultz, Silver Spring[/quote]
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Old April 21, 2000, 03:24 AM   #2
Bud Helms
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Sad.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>... it was the Continental Army raised by the government and under its authority -- and whose soldiers turned their guns in at the end of the war -- that won the conflict.[/quote]

"... whose soldiers turned their guns in at the end of the war ..." ????

I don't think so!

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Old April 21, 2000, 08:08 AM   #3
jeffer
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Turned in their guns? Of course they did.
After the war a law was passed stating deer, turkey
and other wild game shall walk to your door and die at a
convenient time.

Who needs guns with all these great laws


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Old April 21, 2000, 09:26 AM   #4
Slowpoke_Rodrigo
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>ragtag, ill-disciplined and unreliable local militias[/quote]

I wonder if their opposition viewed the Lexington and Concord militias that way on the evening of 19 April 1775? Those of the opposition still alive, that is...

------------------
Slowpoke Rodrigo...he pack a gon...

Vote for the Neal Knox 13

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Old April 21, 2000, 09:56 AM   #5
Hoppy
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"While I respect the Second Amendment and the right of law-abiding citizens to possess guns for sporting, hunting or
self-protection purposes"

All of which are secondary to the intent of the 2nd..and obviosly he doesn't respect it.

"in which a heroic Molly Pitcher of a wife
is ready to seize the gun from her husband's bloody, dying hand to continue the eternal battle against crime."

I hope and belief my wife would...

"blockhouses with thick stone walls and narrow slit windows where these people can stand guard ready to defend themselves against marauding criminals"

Well, I am building a log house with 6 inch solid logs!

"What does Bob Dole think? Bob Dole thinks he's a doofus" - Bob Dole



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Old April 21, 2000, 10:03 AM   #6
Byron
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This is a perfectly typical Montgomery County liberal, one who I'd bet does not live down near the D.C. line, and with lots of money to invest in security systems and private police to patrol his gated community. He's probably got a revolver tucked away, too, but that is something to be reserved for the Right People.

The nonsense about Dodge City is just that. Predatory crimes like robbery, rape, mugging, and burglary were almost unknown in the Old West, and that was largely because almost everyone was armed. Except for young men getting drunk and shooting each other over matters of personal honor (there was plenty of that), it was the Mild West. Kopel quotes historian W. Eugene Hollon: "...the Western frontier was a far more civilized, more peaceful, and safer place than American society is today." A study of the frontier mining towns of Aurora and Bodie estimated that the "per capita annual robbery rate was 7 percent of modern New York's. The burglary rate 1 percent. Rape was unknown...If innocent people not living in fear of criminal attack is one index of civilization, Aurora and Bodie were more tranquil, civilized places than most modern American cities... The experience of Aurora and Bodie was repeated throughout the West. One study of five major cattle towns with a reputation for violence -- Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City, and Caldwell -- found that all together the towns had less than two criminal homicides per year." (Kopel)

Montgomery County should do so well.

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Old April 21, 2000, 11:10 AM   #7
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I sent the editor the letter below; I used to live in Maryland (up the road in Howard County), and this kind of stuff really irks me.


Editor:

A letter from William K. Schultz ("This is Montgomery County, not Dodge City") published on 4/19, shows an appalling lack of historical knowledge about the West.

The writer's ideas about crime in Dodge City and similar places are way off the mark. Predatory crimes like robbery, rape, mugging, and burglary were almost unknown in the Old West, and that was largely because almost everyone was armed. Except for young men getting drunk and shooting each other over matters of personal honor (there was plenty of that), it was the Mild West. According to historian W. Eugene Hollon "...the Western frontier was a far more civilized, more peaceful, and safer place than American society is today." In his award-winning book on the cultural context of gun control, David Kopel quotes a study by historian Roger McGrath of the frontier mining towns of Aurora and Bodie, which estimated that the "per capita annual robbery rate was 7 percent of modern New York's. The burglary rate 1 percent. Rape was unknown...If innocent people not living in fear of criminal attack is one index of civilization, Aurora and Bodie were more tranquil, civilized places than most modern American cities... The experience of Aurora and Bodie was repeated throughout the West. One study of five major cattle towns with a reputation for violence -- Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City, and Caldwell -- found that all together the towns had less than two criminal homicides per year."

Ironically, Schultz is correct in rejecting any equivalence between modern Montgomery County and 19th Century Dodge City. For the average citizen, a modern urban area like Montgomery County is a far more dangerous place.

Whether owning a gun for self defense should be considered an act of silly paranoia, as Schultz seems to believe, or as an act of careful prudence, is an empirical question, not a moral one. Owning a gun may understandably have few attractions for someone who lives far from the D.C. line, in a crime-free gated community patrolled by private police, in a house wired with a state-of-the-art security system. The realities of life in a bad neighborhood may be far from the understanding of people who avoid driving through them. I find it morally repugnant when those who live in better circumstances ridicule the self-defense concerns of fellow citizens who are not so well-situated.

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Old April 21, 2000, 11:11 AM   #8
Danger Dave
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So, in a way, he's right - it's not the Wild West.

It's a lot more dangerous.
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Old April 21, 2000, 11:21 AM   #9
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I have to question those Old West crime statistics... particularly those on rape. Women were in a much different situation then, and it's likely that if a woman was raped, she either hid it, or was ignored... or perhaps her family found their own justice.
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Old April 21, 2000, 12:03 PM   #10
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Mikul: Secondary indicators like the numbers of jail cells available and how often they were filled, suggest that the statistics are probably pretty good. Besides the ready availability of amazingly large numbers of whorehouses in Western towns, I'd guess that the major reason for the low incidence of rape was that respectable women did not go out unaccompanied very often, where they might have been vulnerable to rape. This is very different today. A good chunk of the variance in street crime victimization can be accounted for simply by the amount of time you are out there at risk. This is the major reason that males are more often victims of street crime (other than rape) than are females, and why older people are less often victims than are younger people.
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Old April 21, 2000, 12:45 PM   #11
Dennis Olson
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A fellow computer nerd whose opinions I respect (and who lives in that area) calls it "Monkey County".

Seems appropriate....
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Old April 21, 2000, 05:02 PM   #12
Covert Mission
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It's interesting to note that there is an equivalent to Montgomery County, MD in the other direction, on the VA suburb side of DC. The demographics in many ways are the same, but it is MUCH more conservative. You don't hear all this foaming at the mouth gun phobia coming out of VA, and the crime rate in VA is measurably lower. I know where I WOULDN'T live.

From the Washington Post:

Crime in Two Counties

By Gareth Davis and David Muhlhausen

Thursday, December 9, 1999; Page A45

The FBI reported recently that serious crime fell by 10 percent during
the first half of 1999, extending the nationwide drop in crime to 7 1/2
years. This is good news, to be sure, but the FBI's national figures tell
only part of the story. In some jurisdictions, crime has dropped
dramatically, while in others it has gone down only slightly, or even
risen. And in some cases, stark differences in crime rates exist
between jurisdictions that are nearly identical in every other way.

A perfect example is found in comparing Montgomery and Fairfax
counties in the Washington suburbs. While the 1999 data are not yet
available for the two counties, the 1998 data show that both are fairly
safe places to live, with rates for almost all offenses below the
national norm. But the FBI statistics show a striking disparity in crime
rates between the two.

For example, although its 1998 population was 11.5 percent larger than
Montgomery County's, Fairfax had 1,083 fewer violent crimes. Even
after controlling for population size, which works in Montgomery's
favor, the Maryland county has a violent-crime rate 2.4 times that of
its Virginia neighbor. Crime by crime, a resident of Montgomery is 1.7
times more likely to be raped, 2.2 times more likely to be robbed and
2.8 times more likely to suffer an aggravated assault.

This discrepancy has emerged only in the past 20 years. During the late
1970s, Fairfax and Montgomery had roughly similar crime rates. But
crime rates have since plummeted in Fairfax, while dropping only
modestly, or even rising, in Montgomery.

Montgomery's average population from 1978 to 1998 was 7 percent
smaller than Fairfax's, but the Maryland county had 2,400 more rapes,
6,153 more robberies, 11,770 more aggravated assaults, 38 more
murders and 38,087 more burglaries.

From a social-science perspective, this discrepancy shouldn't exist,
since the two counties have almost identical socieconomic profiles.
According to the Census Bureau, both have low poverty rates (5.4
percent for each jurisdiction in 1995), similar per-capita incomes
($41,539 in Montgomery and $39,951 in Fairfax in 1997) and similar
unemployment rates (2.3 percent in Montgomery and 1.6 percent in
Fairfax in 1998).

Likewise, the racial, ethnic and family composition of the two counties
is almost identical. Fairfax and Montgomery have nearly the same
proportions of Asians and Hispanics, and there is only a slightly higher
proportion of African Americans on the Maryland side (15.3 percent vs.
8.3 percent in Fairfax). Both counties have also seen rapid population
growth and large-scale immigration during the past 30 years, which
has changed them from enclaves that were almost completely
non-Hispanic white to models of ethnic diversity. Nor does one county
have significantly more broken homes than the other: 83 percent of the
families with children in Montgomery consist of married couples,
compared to 85 percent in Fairfax.

So what accounts for the dramatically different crime rates between
the two counties. Is it police policy? Probably not. There is little
evidence that the gap in crime rates comes from differences either in
the professionalism or the amount of resources devoted to policing. In
1998 Fairfax County Police and Montgomery County Police solved 57
percent and 58 percent of all violent crimes respectively.

Is it gun-control policy? Perhaps. Maryland has stricter gun laws than
Virginia, which means that criminals have a greater likelihood of being
confronted by an armed citizen in Virginia. Indeed, the gap between the
two counties in crimes that involve face-to-face contact with a victim
(such as rape, burglary, assault and robbery) is much greater than for
offenses in which such contact is unlikely (larceny and car theft, for
example).

Is it criminal justice policy? This looks like the best explanation. The
only significant way Montgomery and Fairfax have differed over the
past 20 years is that they have been governed by state legislatures and
gubernatorial administrations with vastly different approaches to
crime.

While Maryland has largely adhered to older and more lenient criminal
justice policies during the past two decades, Virginia has emerged as
one of the toughest-on-crime states in the nation. For example, in 1994
Virginia was the first state to abolish parole for violent felons.
Maryland has no such law. More recently, Virginia enacted a
truth-in-sentencing law requiring all violent prisoners to serve a
minimum of 85 percent of their sentences. Maryland law requires only
that imnates serve 50 percent of their sentences. Indeed, looking back
over the 20-year period 1978-98, for every 100 Maryland criminals in
prison, 66 walked the streets as parolees; in Virginia, only 45 did.

As for capital crimes, Virginia has been far less reluctant to employ
the death penalty, executing 11 murderers during the first nine months
of 1999 alone. Maryland has executed only three murderers in the past
20 years.

Following the rapid drop in crime in New York City after the institution
of police reforms by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, much attention was
focused on better policing as the key to controlling crime. But the
sharply different experiences of Montgomery and Fairfax counties offer
compelling evidence that criminal justice reforms can also be
effective in driving down crime rates. Conversely, lenient criminal
justice policies can exact a substantial price, not just in inner cities
but in some of the nation's most affluent suburbs.

Gareth Davis is a policy analyst and David Muhlhausen a researcher at
the Heritage Foundation.

1999 The Washington Post Company



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Old April 21, 2000, 05:59 PM   #13
JimR
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I love the way the Post discounts the possibility that private firearms ownership might be an important issue in the crime rate discrepancy. Predictable.
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Old April 21, 2000, 06:48 PM   #14
Covert Mission
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Jim,

Although this was published IN the Post, it wasn't written by them. It is an opinion piece from the Op-Ed pages, written by two people from the Heritage Foundation (conservative, I think).

The passage :..."Is it gun-control policy? Perhaps. Maryland has stricter gun laws than Virginia, which means that criminals have a greater likelihood of being confronted by an armed citizen in Virginia..."

I think that statement, however brief, works in "our" favor. They could have taken it further, of course, by saying that VA grants CCW permits in many areas and MD does not, and that the stricter gun laws in MD seem to do nothing to inhibit the criminal... only the good guy. Maybe they didn't want it to be just a pro-gun piece, which would be easily dismissed by some, like the HCI folks to with John LOtt's work.



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Old April 21, 2000, 10:27 PM   #15
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This Schultz guy's rhetoric sounds really familiar. Anyone here besides me think he lurks at the Potomac Institute site -- a Maryland 501c3 corporation?

------------------
Gun Control: The proposition that a woman found dead in an alley, raped and strangled with her own panty hose, is more acceptable than allowing that same woman to defend herself with a firearm.
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Old April 22, 2000, 04:16 PM   #16
Fourdiamonds
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Maybe if we brought back that neatly tied piece of hemp and used it more, then woman would no longer fear attack and rape again.
Where is Judge Bean when we need him???
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Old April 24, 2000, 05:31 PM   #17
Jeff OTMG
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Not meaning to sound like a bigot, but the article is trying to be PC and according to the govt stats this MAY be part of the actual problem:

"there is only a slightly higher
proportion of African Americans on the Maryland side (15.3 percent vs.
8.3 percent in Fairfax)."
Their interpretation of what is 'slightly higher' is actually nearly 100% more. How much does it take to be significantly higher? To me 'slightly' would be around 10%. It appears the author was attempting to bias the report to slant it away from people thinking that the problem is race based. I completely skipped over race being an issue, thinking that gun laws and/or economics might be involved, until I realized the HUGE discrepancy in the numbers. When doing statistical analysis and comparing percentages that big a difference IS significant considering that blacks make up only about 10% of the overall population.

As evidence of this I cite the U.S. Govt web site from the U.S. Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/race.htm

'Blacks were 6 times more likely than whites to be murdered in 1998', but 8 times more likely from 1990 - 1993.

'Blacks were 7 times more likely than whites to commit homicide in 1998', but closer to 10 times from 1990 - 1995.

Whites have shown a STEADY DECREASE IN BOTH CATEGORIES since 1980!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please note that the comparison charts correctly compare the rates per 100,000 people. These figures could help to explain the differences in the two cities.
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Old April 24, 2000, 06:43 PM   #18
Covert Mission
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Jeff,

I'm no statistician, but your interpretation of the numbers is somewhat misleading i think, re:

(...and there is only a slightly higher proportion of African Americans on the Maryland side (15.3 percent vs. 8.3 percent in Fairfax)

15.3% is only 7% more than 8.3%, relative to the TOTAL population, right? If there are 100 people total in MD, and 15.3 of them are black, and 8.3 of 100 are black in VA, then that is only 7 more per 100 (in MD), or 7%. Right?

If you're comparing the two numbers against each other (15.3 vs 8.3), then 15.3% is almost double the 8.3% in relative numbers, but not compared to the TOTAL number of 100%. Right?

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Old April 25, 2000, 11:58 AM   #19
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CM, yes, that is what the percentages mean, but what I said was still true. There are nearly twice as many blacks in the Md county(pop. 757,027) as in the Va county (pop. 818,584). 15,300 per 100,000 residents (115,825 total) compared to 8,300 per 100,000 residents (67,942) or an 84.3% increase in the number of black residents per capita. As you can see the difference in the total populations is about equal to the total number of black residents of Fairfax County. Again, blacks make up less that 10% of the total population. The difference is from about 10% less than the national average to about 70% percent above the national average. To me that is a pretty substantial difference. I think the article was worded in such a way to gloss over the difference so that people would ignore it. If the difference was from 8.3% to 24.9% it would have been more obvious as 200% more blacks living in Md than Va, but I still find the 84.3% per capita difference significant.
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Old April 25, 2000, 01:31 PM   #20
Covert Mission
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Jeff,

I see your point. What those numbers don't say, and what I don't know and therefore won't draw premature conclusions on, are the demographics of the black population on either the MD or VA side. For all we know from those numbers, the additional black residents of MD may be of a middle or upper middle class socioeconomic level, a group which, as I understand it, is far less represented in crime figures which tally crimes where blacks are either the criminal, the victim, or both.

I hope we can all agree that crime (other than white collar crime) is disproportionately high in areas (usually urban) that are economically blighted, areas whose residents are far more likely to be minorities than whites(as the whites and affluent minorities have fled to the suburbs). Blacks in these areas both commit crime at a higher rate (esp among certain age groups like 18-30 yr old males) and are victims at a higher rate than whites, according to numbers I recall.
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Old April 25, 2000, 02:17 PM   #21
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There is also a difference in how easily accessible the two places are to criminals from D.C. Montgomery County sits right on the D.C. line. You just walk across a street in Silver Spring, for example, and you are in D.C. But Virginia is across the Potomac River from D.C., so you need a car and have to cross a bridge.
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Old April 25, 2000, 02:44 PM   #22
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CM, I agree. I think that the difference is both based in education and economics. Generally a lower level of education being the limiting factor in the 'economic comfort' level one reaches in life and in per capita comparisons blacks are disporportionately represented in poor urban areas. I also agree that Byron's 'natural barrier' idea holds much merit. We all know that D.C. has a large crime rate and the perpetrators of those crimes would find it much easier and less expensive to cross into Montgomery County than Fairfax.
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Old April 25, 2000, 03:00 PM   #23
Covert Mission
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re: "Generally a lower level of education being the limiting factor in the 'economic comfort' level one reaches in life"

In reading the tale of woe in the paper today, about his wealth declining to only $49 BILLION or so, I guess college dropout Bill Gates is one exception to this!

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Old April 25, 2000, 06:31 PM   #24
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I learned a long time ago that the level of education that you achieve is not always learned in school. BG and Sam Walton were exceptions. Some people have gifts and talents that can be extremely valuable, as is found in professional sports. These are the exception. Poor Bill. $49 billion down from $90 billion. Do you think that he will have to sell the house?
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Old April 26, 2000, 08:43 AM   #25
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I lived in the DC area for 25 years and don't claim to know all there is to know about it, BUT, especially for folks who have never been to the area, it is relevant to note that:

1. BOTH Montgomery County and neighboring Fairfax County are among the richest counties, per capita, in the country. This is accounted for in both instances by the high concentration of government bureaucrats who reside in both counties, black and white.Year in and year out the two counties compete to have their respective public high schools declared the best in the country, and they virtually take turns winning.

2. If you want to know the racial residential patterns that are relevant, they are the following. Generally, lower income blacks live in the Northeast section of the District of Columbia. Montgomery County is to the North and Northwest. Lower income blacks tend to move into the Maryland counties to the east of DC, Prince George's county for instance. But the geographical line blurs in the area directly north and continuing around toward PG county. It is impossible to draw meaningful inferences on the population of the two counties based upon race.

3. The biggest historical reason blacks have not moved into Virginia as frequently as to the east of DC is the invisible Mason-Dixon line which, politically at least, runs down the middle of the Potomac River. Remember, Richmond VA was the CAPITAL of the Confederacy.

It is an historical oddity, but remember that DC was supposed to have been created by taking a ten mile square from both Maryland and Virgina. FWIW, the Va part -- now known as Arlington County -- reverted back to Va sometime around the end of the 19th century. Look at a map. Draw a square around DC. It will overlap in the SW quadrant with Arlington county.

4. So what? History and politics explain more here than racial composition of the two counties. The blacks in western most portion of Montgomery County and Fairfax County have virtually the same demographics as their white brethren and sistren.

Income differences are more likely to be the engine for behavioral differences, and those differences don't track closely on a county by county basis because of the patterns I've described above.

The statistics presented don't make a powerful case for black v. white theories of crime because they don't show the income levels of the racial populations involved. Poor whites are just as likely to knock of 7-11's as poor whites, based on the data presented.

All the data shows is that areas with more POOR blacks have higher crime levels than areas with fewer POOR blacks. Go to Kentucky, Tennessee and my home state of W. Va. and you can prove the same thing with poor v. rich whites.

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