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All You Need To Know About Robotaxi App Rise, An AI Pioneer’s New Startup And Mobility Event Highlights

Hello and welcome back to The Station, a weekly newsletter dedicated to all the ways people and packages move (today and in the future) from Point A to Point B. Welp, the mobility event is over and we had loads of interesting interviews — and anyone…

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Hello and welcome back to The Station, a weekly newsletter dedicated to all the ways people and packages move (today and in the future) from Point A to Point B. Welp, the mobility event is over and we had loads of interesting interviews — and anyone with an Extra Crunch subscription can access the videos. For instance, Rita Liao moderated a panel with executives from three Chinese robotaxi companies — WeRide, AutoX and Momenta — that also test and develop in Europe and the United States. One interesting takeaway on the regulations front is that policymaking for AVs in China is driven from the bottom up rather than a top-down effort by the central government, the three panelists explained. They also spoke about how foreign counterparts can crack open China’s market.
Jewel Li from AutoX laid out the challenges of operating in China:
I think it’s not as simple as opening up an office, right? It’s much more than that, to be able to succeed in the market. You need to build the landscape, you need to build the ecosystem, your own partners. The whole ecosystem chain is quite long. It’s quite complicated, involving government relations. It also involves the data that you have already accumulated. The driving experience has to fit in the local world. Many things comes into play.
Other highlights included my interview with Mate Rimac of Rimac Automobili, who disclosed how close the company came to failing, provided advice to fellow and aspiring founders and explained his interest in electric robotaxis. Then there was the discussion about the AV industry between Motional’s Karl Iagnemma and Aurora’s Chris Urmson — not an interview to miss. More recaps of the event will be published in the coming week. Some other coverage from the event: Email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions or tips. You also can send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.

Micromobbin’

This week, as Kirsten Korosec mentioned above, we had our big Mobility event, where the leaders, upstarts and startups of the mobility world joined us on our virtual stage to talk about the future of moving people, goods and even ideas. I led a panel with Remix co-founder and CEO Tiffany Chu, community organizer, transportation consultant and lawyer Tamika L. Butler and Revel co-founder and CEO Frank Reig. We discussed the importance of mobility companies being equitable and accessible to everyone in a city, especially the most vulnerable, and how that affects profitability. Something interesting that came out of my questioning was Reig’s comments about Revel achieving profitability. (The revelations about profitability were first shared in May, although Reig did provide a bit more color during the event.) For three months in the summer of 2020, Revel was full-company profitable, “so beyond just market profitability, beyond just unit economics,” said Reig. “I’m talking my salary and everything else that’s involved in running a company.” This was back when Revel was only an e-moped company and before it added several other business lines, including EV charging hubs, e-bikes and ride-hailing. We don’t know exactly how Revel is measuring profitably — are we talking EBITDA? Gross profit? — and on the panel we didn’t have time to dig into the money salad. But it is notable as the company settles into its newest business line of ride-hailable Tesla vehicles. We’ll be watching Revel closely as it continues to ramp up its different revenue streams. Maybe someday they’ll go public so we can have a closer look. Let’s get back to the important issue of whether or not mobility companies, like Revel, can help cities achieve equitability of movement. Movement should be a right, not a privilege, but it often feels like we’re playing the same game with different vehicles today. Mobility has always benefited those at the top more, so why should it be any different today? Does the moral highway really drive us toward justice? What good reason do companies have to spend their time and money actually making sure their services help cities achieve equity of movement? “I think if you’re doing the work that theoretically is to serve people then you should want to serve all people,” said Butler. “For companies, I would say that people like to say it takes too much time or costs too much money to do things equitably, but whether or not you’re retrofitting a house or retrofitting your company, whenever you retrofit something it costs more money. So if you think about equity as something you build in from the beginning, it will actually save you money and take less time than if you try to do it later because someone tells you to do it or you’ve had some controversy.” You can watch the full talk on Extra Crunch. Some micro morsels… Leo Riders, an e-scooter platform for those in the hospitality industry, is expanding into Athens, Greece, with more than 20 agreements with local hotels. Hotels like Brown Hotel and Colors Urban Hotel will now be able to offer guests e-scooters to ride around the city. Sounds sick. What could go wrong?! E-scooter subscription and sales company Unagi is expanding its “All-Access” service” to Chicago, D.C. and some other regions around those two great American cities. Lime is extending its “Ride to Recovery” initiative — which provides free e-scooter and bike rides to vaccine appointments — to the Fourth of July. Riders can access a promo code for two free 15-minute rides here, as well as information on vaccines and where to get one. Future Motion’s Onewheel, the unique and fun-looking vehicle that’s like a skateboard with a giant wheel in the middle of the board, has reached 52.5 million miles. They wanted me to tell you that’s 220 trips to the moon and back, 2,100 times around the earth and nearly 18,000 trips between Santa Cruz, California and NYC. — Rebecca Bellan

Deal of the week

money the station Didi, the Chinese ride-hailing company, has already raised tens of billions of dollars from the private market. Now it’s ready to tap the public one. The company filed for an IPO, and digging a bit into the filing here’s what we find. As TechCrunch’s Alex Wilhelm notes, the S-1 shows how quickly and painfully COVID-19 blunted Didi’s global operations. As COVID-19 numbers have fallen and economies have opened back up, Didi has settled back to late-2019 gross transaction volume numbers. Didi manage a GTV recovery in China. However, its aggregate numbers are flatter, and recent quarterly trends are not incredibly attractive. And taking a historical look at its financial figures, it’s clear that Didi has never generated positive operating income. The company’s revenues in Q1 2021 were smaller than its Q3 and Q4 2020 numbers, for example. A few other items of note, the company reported a $1.7 billion loss on $21.6 billion in revenue for 2020. And some of its largest stakeholders are SoftBank with 21.5%, Uber with 12/5% and Tencent with 6.8%. Other deals that got my attention … Branch Insurance, a startup offering bundled home and auto insurance, raised $50 million in a Series B funding round led by Anthemis Group. Acrew, Cherry Creek Holdings and existing backers Greycroft, HSCM Bermuda, American Family Ventures, SignalFire, SCOR P&C Ventures, Foundation Capital and Tower IV also participated in the round. The startup has raised $82.5 million in total funding since its inception in 2017. A couple of Chinese grocery delivery companies filed for IPOs this week. First up is Dingdong, which previously raised more than $400 million from investors including General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital China, Starquest China, Qiming Venture Partners, Bertelsmann Asia Investments and General Atlantic. The regulatory filing shows that Digndong had a net loss of $485 million on $1.73 billion in revenue last year. Then there’s Missfresh, which has raised more than $2 billion from investors, including a fund under state-backed China International Capital Corporation, ICBC International Securities, Tencent, Abu Dhabi Capital Group, Tiger Global and a fund managed by the government of Changshu county. Missfresh reported a $252 million net loss on $956 million in revenue in 2020, according to the filing. Circulor, a supply chain traceability and CO2 tracking company, raised $14 million in a Series A funding round. The Westly Group led the round, with participation by Salesforce Ventures, BHP Ventures, Future Positive Capital, 24Haymarket and Sky Ocean Ventures, alongside existing investors in the company. Circulor’s product is used by Volvo Cars to trace the cobalt used in its all-electric XC40 Recharge and by Polestar to assess the environmental and human rights risks of sourcing cobalt, lithium, nickel, lithium and mica for its electric cars. Embraer’s electric vehicle takeoff and landing unit Eve Urban Air Mobility is in talks to merge with special purpose acquisition company Zanite Acquisition Corp. The deal would value the combined entity at about $2 billion, Bloomberg reported. Hesai, a Shanghai-based lidar maker founded in 2014, raised more than $300 million in a Series D funding round led by GL Ventures, the venture capital arm of private equity firm Hillhouse Capital, smartphone maker Xiaomi, on-demand services giant Meituan and CPE, the private equity platform of Citic. Huatai International Private Equity Fund, the USD investment arm of Huatai Securities, Lightspeed China Partners and Lightspeed Venture Capital as well as Qiming Venture Partners, also participated. Incari, a Berlin-based HMI startup, closed a €15 million ($18.1 million) Series A financing round led by Lukasz Gadowski, the founder of Delivery Hero and Team Europe. Kitty Hawk, the eVTOL company backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, acquired 3D Robotics. Under the deal, 3D Robotics co-founder Chris Anderson will become chief operating officer at Kitty Hawk, Forbes reported. The article also revealed that Kitty Hawk engineer Damon Vander Lind, who built the initial versions of Heaviside, was dismissed, CEO Sebastian Thrun confirmed to Forbes. Nvidia is acquiring DeepMap, the high-definition mapping startup announced. The company said its mapping IP will help Nvidia’s autonomous vehicle technology sector, Nvidia Drive. Nvidia is expected to finalize the acquisition in Q3 2021. Trucks Venture Capital, the venture firm that backs early-stage entrepreneurs in transportation, is launching two new funds. Its new core fund, known as Trucks Venture Fund 2, was raised over the last year and recently closed on $52,525,252. The fund is backed by three auto OEMs and three auto suppliers that make everything from bicycles to Class 8 big rig trucks, as well as one communications company, according to Trucks VC. The VC’s new follow-on fund, Trucks Growth Fund, will provide later-stage capital to some of the most promising companies already in Trucks’ portfolio. Waabi, a new autonomous vehicle startup founded by AI pioneer and chief scientist at Uber ATG Raquel Urtasun, raised $83.5 million in a Series A round led by Khosla Ventures, with additional participation from Uber, 8VC, Radical Ventures, OMERS Ventures, BDC and Aurora Innovation, as well as leading AI researchers Geoffrey Hinton, Fei-Fei Li, Pieter Abbeel, Sanja Fidler and others. Urtasun said she is taking what she describes as an “AI-first approach” to speed up the commercial deployment of autonomous vehicles, starting with long-haul trucks. WhereIsMyTransport announced it is set to raise $14.5 million in a Series A extension round led by Naspers Foundry, Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund and SBI Investment. Other participants confirmed in the extension are Capria Ventures and Wuri Ventures, Mission Gate, B&Y and KDDI Open Innovation Fund managed by Global Brain.

Robotaxi apps on the rise

the station autonomous vehicles1 Last week, I shared the Waymo One app information courtesy of Sensor Tower, the mobile app market intelligence firm. There are not many other AV developers that have launched ride-hailing apps, although that might be changing. Argo AI and Zoox have job listings for Android software engineers. Zoox is looking for an iOS engineer as well. Sensor Tower did note to TechCrunch that Pony.ai has launched a few apps. PonyPilot+ has hit about 6,000 installs on China’s App Store. PonyPilot has seen about 2,000 in the U.S., most of which happened in the first three months of 2020, according to Sensor Tower. The company also has two apps available in Russia called PonyExpress+, which has seen about 1,500 installs, and PonyFleetGO. There are no download estimates for PonyFleetGo. AutoX also has an app available, AutoX Food Delivery, which has reached about 200 installs in the United States.

Policy corner

the-station-delivery President Joe Biden has set his sights on hardening the country’s supply chains for essential goods and critical minerals. The White House said on June 8 it had created a task force aimed at addressing supply chain bottlenecks, including in semiconductors and critical minerals used in EV batteries. Biden wants to get many more Americans driving electric vehicles, but the majority of key critical minerals in batteries, like lithium and graphite, are mined and processed abroad. As part of a Fact Sheet also released on June 8, Biden’s administration said it would create a task force to identify opportunities to produce minerals domestically — something that until now has kicked up a lot of controversy amongst environmental groups. The U.S. Department of Energy released a blueprint for lithium batteries through 2030 that calls for eliminating two key minerals from batteries — cobalt and nickel — as a way of fortifying the supply chain. The DOE says it will support R&D efforts to develop batteries without these minerals, which are largely found in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo or Indonesia, and are processed mainly in China. Scientific innovation is certainly one way to reduce America’s dependence on foreign adversaries for its batteries. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a sweeping $547 billion infrastructure package after a whopping 19 hours of debate (pour one out for the Congressional interns). The final vote was 38-26. As a reminder, the INVEST in America Act would largely fund improvements to roads, bridges and passenger rail, but earmarks $4 billion in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and around $4 billion to invest in zero-emission transit vehicles. Just two Republicans on the committee voted in favor of the bill. The INVEST in America Act is still very, very far from becoming law: It now advances to the full House for further debate, then would be sent to the Senate for further rehashing, etcetera etcetera… nevertheless, it’s an encouraging sign, especially as legislators managed to work out over 200 proposed amendments to the legislation. GM is changing its tune on proposed tailpipe emission rules in California. The country’s largest automaker had previously opposed California’s tough emissions limits for passenger vehicles, which it reached in concert with five other automakers: Ford, Honda Motor Company, Volkswagen AG, Volvo and BMW. The New York Times reported that GM CEO Mary Barra said in a Wednesday letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan that “GM supports the emissions reduction goals of California through model year ’26,” and that, “the auto industry is embarking upon a profound transition as we do our part to achieve the country’s climate commitments.” However, she said that GM “believes that the same environmental benefits can and should be achieved through a high-volume electric vehicle pathway.” That is to say, she said the best way to reduce emissions is to boost EV sales through government incentives, rebates and other programs. The EPA will be publishing its proposed tailpipe emissions reductions and fuel economy standards in July. Regan has been meeting with major OEMs, including GM, in advance of that release. — Aria Alamalhodaei

Extra Crunch: Air taxi market analysis

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

TechCrunch’s Aria Alamalhodaei dug into the aspirations of the burgeoning electric vertical take-off and landing industry. The upshot: The industry is bullish on its future, a view perhaps augmented by the string of partnership deals, SPACs, private funding and newly achieved unicorn statuses. However, as in any disruptive industry, the forecast may be cloudier than the rosy picture painted by passionate founders and investors. A quick peek at comments and posts on LinkedIn reveals squabbles among industry insiders and analysts about when this emerging technology will truly take off and which companies will come out ahead. Other disagreements have higher stakes. Wisk Aero filed a lawsuit against Archer Aviation alleging trade secret misappropriation. Meanwhile, valuations for companies that have no revenue yet to speak of — and may not for the foreseeable future — are skyrocketing. Electric air mobility is gaining elevation. But there’s going to be some turbulence ahead. This is an Extra Crunch article, which means it requires a subscription. Happy reading.

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Government

Top Stories This Week: Gold Manipulators Go to Court, Silver’s Industrial Side in Focus

Catch up and get informed with this week’s content highlights from Charlotte McLeod, our editorial director.
The post Top Stories This Week: Gold Manipulators Go to Court, Silver’s Industrial Side in Focus appeared first on Investing News Network.

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The gold price held above US$1,800 per ounce this week, finishing the period around that level, which is down from last week’s July high point of around US$1,830. 

Marc Lichtenfeld of the Oxford Club is one market watcher who’s struggling to understand why gold isn’t doing better this year. We had the chance to speak this week, and he pointed to money printing, the impact of COVID-19 and inflation as factors that should be pushing gold to record highs.

So far in 2021 those elements have have failed to do the trick, and Marc said he sees a disconnect between the yellow metal’s traditional fundamentals and what’s happening in the market.

 

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“There just seems to be a disconnect between what are the traditional gold fundamentals and what’s happening out in the world … it’s really difficult to try to figure out what is happening with gold and why gold isn’t at record highs” — Marc Lichtenfeld, the Oxford Club

Of course, some would argue that price manipulation is the reason gold isn’t moving, and this week there was more news on that front. Chat logs were released in a spoofing trial for two former precious metals traders from the Bank of America’s (NYSE:BAC) Merrill Lynch unit, and they show one of the traders bragging about how easy it is to manipulate the price of gold. The trial isn’t over yet, but in its opening arguments that trader’s attorney said he stopped spoofing after he found out it was illegal.

Looking over to silver, I heard this week from Collin Plume of Noble Gold Investments, who thinks industrial demand will help push the white metal above the US$40 per ounce mark in the next 12 to 18 months. Silver has struggled to pass US$30 so far this year.

Solar panels are one of silver’s key uses, but it’s also found in other high-tech applications such as electronics and electric vehicles. Collin isn’t aware of any commodities that can replace silver in its end-use markets, and with demand “through the roof,” he expects to see shortages of silver by next year.

With silver in mind, we asked our Twitter followers this week if they think its industrial or precious side is driving the most demand right now. By the time the poll closed, about 70 percent of respondents said they think the precious angle is more important.

 

Uranium Soared Last Year While Other Resources Tumbled

 
What's In Store For Uranium This Year? Find Out In Our Exclusive FREE 2021 Uranium Outlook Report featuring trends, forecasts, expert interviews and more!
 

We’ll be asking another question on Twitter next week, so make sure to follow us @INN_Resource or follow me @Charlotte_McL to share your thoughts.

We’re going to finish up with the cannabis space, where there was a major announcement last week.

A group of Democratic senators headed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which among other things would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. The long-awaited bill will need 60 votes to get through the Senate, and opinion is split on whether that will actually happen.

INN’s Bryan Mc Govern spoke with Dan Ahrens of AdvisorShares Investments, who thinks it has “no chance of passing,” but remains optimistic about prospects for American cannabis companies.

“No one should expect US (cannabis) legalization anytime soon. We should expect reforms; they’re not coming as fast as anyone would like to see, but everybody agrees we’re going to get some form of banking reform in the near future … we’ll see baby steps” — Dan Ahrens, AdvisorShares Investments

Why? In his opinion, these stocks remain undervalued compared to their Canadian counterparts, and are operating well even without federal cannabis approval. Any legalization progress would be a bonus.

Want more YouTube content? Check out our YouTube playlist At Home With INN, which features interviews with experts in the resource space. If there’s someone you’d like to see us interview, please send an email to cmcleod@investingnews.com.

And don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates! 

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

 

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Economics

Top 5 Rubber Stocks to Buy in 2021

Here are some of the best rubber stocks to buy right now. Increased demand and supply chain disruptions are putting pressure rubber prices.
The post Top 5 Rubber Stocks to Buy in 2021 appeared first on Investment U.

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When it comes to investing, all the attention tends to go to healthcare, tech and increasingly renewable energy. But these aren’t the only stocks on the block, and some old mainstays can also add value to your portfolio. One of those old, reliable industries is rubber: it always has some level of demand, and that won’t likely change anytime soon. But recent economic conditions make rubber even more intriguing than usual. One of the biggest uses of rubber is car tires, and sharp economic recovery is likely to mean a sharp demand for new cars. Hence, we may also see a sharp increase in demand for rubber as many people head to the dealer to buy a new car. There’s more to it than just the auto industry, of course. CNBC reported that disruptions in the supply chain are also causing major disruptions. And we use rubber for many different essential items, including personal protective equipment and countless other items. With increased demand and supply chain disruptions, rubber stocks are poised for a rise. Here are some of the best rubber stocks to buy:
  • Goodyear Tire & Rubber (Nasdaq: GT)
  • Trinseo (NYSE: TSE)
  • Michelin (OTC: MGDDY)
  • Carlisle Companies (NYSE: CSL)
  • Protolabs (NYSE: PRLB)
If you’ve never invested in rubber stocks before, you might be wondering if they are a good investment. Let’s consider that question before looking at each stock more closely. And if you want to see how your investment portfolio might grow, check out our free investment calculator.

Is Rubber a Good Investment?

Rubber can certainly be a good investment because it is nearly ubiquitous; it is used in many different products, including tires, footwear, pharmaceuticals, textiles and many other products. As Zacks notes, rubber is among the most profitable industries when it comes to natural resources. But rubber isn’t exactly the most innovative product. Perhaps it was decades ago, but these days, it’s something most of us are just used to seeing. We don’t really demand rubber so much as the products that contain it. Hence, it’s only when demand for those products increases that the demand for rubber spikes. And as mentioned earlier, we are at a point right now where many people are looking to buy new cars, and rubber’s use in tires could cause a surge in demand. However, these things can be very cyclical. The Zacks page linked above highlights this very well. There, you can see the rubber tires industry has a YTD performance of 42.90% compared to 16.09% for IVV, an S&P 500 fund. But as good as that sounds, the 5-year performance for rubber tires is -33.71% compared to 112.67 for IVV. Given the downside risk, rubber is probably best used as part of a balanced portfolio containing more well-round assets, such as funds like IVV.

Rubber Stocks to Buy Now

If you want to “bounce” your returns upward with rubber stocks, here are some of the best rubber stocks to buy right now. Keep an eye on them as the situation with the auto industry progresses.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber

Goodyear Tire & Rubber is a tire manufacturer that makes tires for a variety of uses. Tires for automobiles are one of the biggest uses of Goodyear tires. However, they are also used on buses, trucks, aircraft, motorcycles, mining equipment, industrial equipment and farm equipment. In addition to the Goodyear name, it also has Dunlop and Kelly tires under its belt. Goodyear has been around since 1898 and was the first global tire manufacturer to enter the Chinese market. It produces a range of tires, rubber products and chemicals across the U.S. and Canada.

Trinseo

Trinseo is a global materials company that manufactures latex, plastics and synthetic rubber. Notably, it produces plastic for Lego. When it comes to rubber, Trinseo produces styrene-butadiene rubber (SSBR). This material is primarily used in high-performance tires. In addition to Legos, its plastic is used in automotive applications, LED lighting and medical devices. Trinseo is growing rapidly, with 17 manufacturing and 11 research facilities worldwide. In addition, it is already seeing healthy revenue increases as it continues to grow. Its website notes Trinseo is “dedicated to making a positive impact on society,” and it will support the “sustainability goals of our customers in a wide range of end-markets.”

Michelin

Michelin is another name that is big in the tire manufacturing business, and the demand for new cars places it squarely on this list. In addition to the Michelin tire brand, the company also owns BFGoodrich and Uniroyal. BFGoodrich is a premium tire brand for sports cars, offroad vehicles and light trucks. Michelin is the largest tire manufacturer in the US and the second-largest in the world. It has 34 plans in two countries and had over $8 billion of sales in 2020. Its revenue has been increasing, as has its stock price. As the situation with the auto industry evolves, it will be interesting to see how Michelin fares.

Carlisle Companies

Founded in 1917 and based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Carlisle Companies is about more than just rubber. It is more of an umbrella under which there are a number of different operations. Its products and services include healthcare, commercial roofing, aerospace and electronics, lawn and garden, agriculture, energy, mining and construction equipment, and dining. Of course, there are many uses for rubber and plastic across these industries. In 2018, Carlisle Companies released a plan called Vision 2025 in which it detailed how it will continue to grow over the next 100 years.

Protolabs

Protolabs is an intriguing company. It produces low-volume 3D printed, CNC-machining, sheet metal fabrication and injection-molded custom parts. These parts are then used for short-run production and in prototypes. The company describes itself as the “world’s fastest digital manufacturing service.” It also provides rubber, metal and commercial plastics. Given its business model, it was able to produce several items during the coronavirus pandemic, including face shields, plastic clips and items used in test kits. They were in turn used in Minnesota hospitals, where the company is based.

More Investing Opportunities

The rubber stocks above might produce some big returns for investors. Although, there are many industries and stocks to choose from. So, here are some more investing opportunities and research… If you’re looking for expert analysis delivered straight to your inbox, consider signing up for Profit Trends. It’s a free e-letter that’s packed with investing tips and tricks. Whether you’re new or already an experienced investor, there’s something for everyone. The post Top 5 Rubber Stocks to Buy in 2021 appeared first on Investment U.

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Government

Despite What Biden Says, Guns Factor In Only A Small Percentage Of Violent Crimes

Despite What Biden Says, Guns Factor In Only A Small Percentage Of Violent Crimes

Authored by John R. Lott Jr. via RealClearInvestigations (emphasis ours),

In response to sharp increases in violent crime, President Biden stressed again last.

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Despite What Biden Says, Guns Factor In Only A Small Percentage Of Violent Crimes

Authored by John R. Lott Jr. via RealClearInvestigations (emphasis ours),

In response to sharp increases in violent crime, President Biden stressed again last week that his administration is focused on “stemming the flow of firearms used to commit violent crimes.” But critics warn that this “guns first” approach ignores a basic fact—about 92% of violent crimes in America do not involve firearms.

Although firearms were used in about 74% of homicides in 2019, they comprise less than 9% of violent crimes in America.

The vast majority of violent offenses—including robberies, rapes and other sex crimes—almost always involve other weapons or no weapons at all.

Consider Chicago, which has become a national symbol of violent crime. While shootings have increased by about 11% this year, the number of murders has decreased slightly in 2021—to 382 as of July 11 compared to 387 for the same time period last year. The dramatic increase Chicago is experiencing is in sex crimes—a 23% rise (1,068 as of July 11 compared with 868 during the same period in 2020).

Police investigate the scene in which police opened fire during an arrest near 109 S Kilpatrick in West Garfield Park in Chicago, Ill., on July 9, 2021. (Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

In New York City, murders through the same period have dropped by 36.4% compared to last year. But robberies are up by 18%, rapes by 9%, and other sex crimes by 35%—all of which do not usually involve guns, sex crimes rarely so. This year murders make up 0.3% of felonies.

Even if gun crime were to rise dramatically, experts point out that it would still be a small fraction of overall violent crime.

The National Crime Victimization Survey, in the latest year available (2019), shows that there were 5,440,680 rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults and 16,425 murders. Firearms were used in 440,830 incidents for rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults (Table 25) and 10,258 murders. Adding those numbers up, 8.27% of violent crime incidents involved firearms. The percentage has stayed virtually the same for decades. For example, in 2000, it was 8.5%. In 2010, it was 9% (Table 4). Nor do most gun crimes end in murder: just 2% do.

The gulf between Democrats and Republicans on this is large. While Democrats are continuing to push for restrictions on police authority, Republican states are responding by giving police more power to do their job.

Nevertheless, Biden and other Democrats argue that lax gun control, which allows gun trafficking, is responsible for the increase in violent crime. The Biden administration’s focus on gun crimes is seen in the titles the White House put on Biden’s talks in April, June and last week: “Remarks by President Biden on Gun Violence Prevention,” “Remarks by President Biden and Attorney General Garland on Gun Crime Prevention Strategy,” and “Remarks by President Biden Discussing His Administration’s Comprehensive Strategy to Reduce Gun Crimes.”

President Joe Biden speaks on gun crime prevention measures as Attorney General Merrick Garland looks on at the White House in Washington, on June 23, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

In three speeches on crime, Biden mentioned “gun” or “firearm” 148 times. The term “weapon,” sometimes in connection with “assault weapon,” is used another 21 times. By contrast, when not directly discussing guns, he mentioned the words “crime,” “violence,” or “violent” about half as often—89 times.

Unmentioned by the president as factors in the violent crime increase were last year’s widespread unrest over the George Floyd murder and the dislocations of the pandemic, including mass layoffs, youths kept out of schools and, notably, the early release of many convicts from infection-prone prisons. Against this backdrop, some scholars question the president’s focus on gun laws.

“What change in gun control laws in 2020 could possibly explain the increase in violent crime over the last year?” asked Carl Moody, an economist who specializes in studying crime at the College of William & Mary, in an interview with RealClearInvestigations. “Why did violent crime increase now, rather than two or three or four years ago?” he asked rhetorically.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Republicans, such as former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, point more generally to law enforcement. They argue that in many urban areas, more than half of prison inmates have been released on account of the pandemic and the releases are continuing. Bail reforms allow those accused of crime to remain on the streets. In some places, police have been ordered to stand down and their budgets cut. Prosecutors in many major urban areas have refused to prosecute violent criminals.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, released a statement late last year criticizing Los Angeles County’s then newly elected District Attorney George Gascón’s pledge (since fulfilled) to reduce criminal sentences and eliminate cash bail for misdemeanors. “As homicides, shooting victims and shots fired into occupied homes soar in Los Angeles,” the union wrote, “it’s disturbing that Gascón’s first act in office is to explore every avenue possible to release from jail those responsible for this bloodshed.”

Gascón’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Police officers patrol in their car in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 1, 2020. (Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images)

In contrast with Republicans, Biden mentioned policing just four times in his three addresses. He did so once in connection with “red flag” gun laws, and three times boasted that the American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year by Congress provided funds to hire “more police officers, more nurses, more counselors, more social workers.” However, the bill did not require that local governments spend any of the $350 billion they received on law enforcement.

Moody told RealClearInvestigations that the president’s emphasis on violent crime is “understandable if only because of how heavily concentrated murders are in the country.” Over 50% of the murders take place in just 2% of the counties (60 of the 3,140 counties, the 60 making up 27.5% of the population), and even within those counties most murders occur within 10-block areas. These are overwhelmingly gang-related murders. They are surely important, but don’t touch the lives of most Americans. Fifty-four percent of counties have no murders and another 15% have one.

This article was written by John R. Lott Jr for RealClearInvestigations.

Tyler Durden Fri, 07/23/2021 - 22:20

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