Despite mainstream media reporting, the FBI and DOJ annual reports show that homicide, gun murders, and violent crime have been cut in half since 1993. In the same time period, guns are more prevalent than ever and states have relaxed gun control laws.The expression, “don’t believe the hype” is perhaps never more true than of mainstream media reporting on homicides, gun deaths, and violent crime. The old media adage is nothing sells like death, injury, and destruction. Add children to the mix and you have the perfect – if not morbidly obsessed – mix for selling media like crazy. Enter the hype about gun control. However, any attempt at honest gun control discussion and debate requires an honest look at the facts. The facts show that homicide and violent crime has dropped significantly in the last 37 years. In fact, homicide and violent crime have been cut by almost 50% in the last 20 years, and gun homicide is significantly down
The facts in this case are official U.S. government crime figures released annually by the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), both Department of Justice agencies. The FBI releases Uniform Crime Reports, and Crime In The United States reports annually. We’ll also look at long-range crime data from the BJS to try to get context to homicide, gun homicide and violent crime trends. Looking at the long-term trends help us get an accurate picture of what the data shows and avoids the other “-ism” that statistics lie. All data is linked and publicly available to anyone.
To get a baseline and long-term trend perspective, we’ll start with BJS homicide data going back to 1976, in which there were 18,780 total homicides (p. 137). Firearms made up the majority of them (63.7%) at 11.979, and most of those – 8,561 – were from handguns. Non-Firearm homicides, which include knives, blunt objects, personal weapon (hands/feet), and others were 6,801, still a sizable portion of the total. The homicide rate in 1976 was 8.7 per 100,000 people (p.146).
Homicides in the U.S. peaked in the early 1990′s when homicides in between 1990-1994 ranged from 21,000-24,000 annually. In 1993 there were a total of 24,530 homicides (p.137). A whopping 17,075 of these were Firearms-related (69.6%), and again the majority of those – 13,981 – were from handguns. Non-Firearm homicides were 7,455. The FBI reports the homicide rate was 9.5 per 100,000 people.
That was the peak of violence, homicides and gun homicides in the United States. Since then, the trend has seen these crimes go down.
FBI Uniform Crime Reports show homicides dropped to 12,664 in 2011, the last year available. Again, two-thirds (67.7%) of homicides are Firearm-related, at 8,583, and the majority of those – 6,220 – came from handgun use. Non-Firearms related homicides totaled 4,081 The homicide rate has dropped to 4.7 from 9.5 per 100,000 people.
Crime In The United States report from the FBI shows violent crime rates are also drastically declining, dropping from 747.1 in 1993 to 386.3 in 2011. The violent crime rate is now 50.7% of what it was 20 years ago. The homicide rate has declined by 48.7% in that same time period. BJS data shows from 1993-2010, non-fatal violent crime (homicides are the fatal kind), firearms are used less than 10% of the time. Handgun homicides dropped by more than half, now at just 44.4% of what they were in 1993 (going from 13,981 to 6,220) The BJS report “Homicide Trends in the United States” states, “In recent years, all regions have experienced a decline in homicide rates”(p.144) and “Trends in gun homicides follow patterns similar to those for all homicides” (p. 145). The data are not cute factoids taken out of context, but instead show a trend in declining violence in America – in overall violent crime (which includes homicides among other violent crimes), in homicides, and in firearm homicides – that has been occurring for more than 37 years. In fact, the homicide rate is lower today than the year 1900.
The facts do not support the gun control advocates narrative that gun crime is increasing. We do not owe this to a decrease in guns: gun sales are soaring and there are more guns in the U.S. today than ever, with estimates ranging from 310 to 350 million. Nor is the decrease because of stricter gun laws. Over the last several decades, more states have adopted ‘Right to Carry’ laws, allowing citizens to legally carry concealed guns. And yet, there is less violent crime, and less homicide, including gun homicide. Consider this: in the middle of this 20-year period we had an assault weapons ban (which the Center for Disease Control and other studies said had no measurable impact), and yet once the ban was lifted, violent crime, and homicide, including firearm homicide still declined. These facts run counter to the claims that less guns equals less crime, or that tighter laws mean less crime. While prominent placement of gun and homicide news stories on news media sites’ homepages and news channels may attract viewership and sell advertising, the truth is that homicide, including gun homicide, and violent crime are going down and have been for several decades. The narrative is disproved by a clear look at the factual data.
By Matt MacBradaigh. Matt is a Christian, Husband, Father, Patriot, and Conservative from the Pacific Northwest. Matt writes about the Second Amendment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Policy issues and is published on The Bell Towers, The Brenner Brief, PolicyMic. TavernKeepers, and Vocativ.
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