Major Drop in Gun Crime Not Understood by American Public
A recently-released study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) establishes, without a doubt, that serious gun crime has dropped dramatically in the last twenty years. The BJS Report showed a 39% decline in gun murders from 1993 to 2011 plus a 69% drop in non-fatal gun crimes.
In fact, according to the L.A. Times: “In less than two decades, the gun murder rate has been nearly cut in half. Other gun crimes fell even more sharply, paralleling a broader drop in violent crimes committed with or without guns. Violent crime dropped steeply during the 1990s and has fallen less dramatically since the turn of the millennium.”
A separate independent study by the Pew Research Center, affirms that “National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime[.] Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm — assaults, robberies and sex crimes — was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993.” The PRS findings were based on CDC data (for gun homicides) and on U.S. Justice Department data for “non-fatal victimizations”.
Ignorant Americans Believe Gun Crime is Rising
Ironically, though it is absolutely clear that serious gun crime has dropped while gun ownership has increased, the majority of Americans believe that gun crime is on the rise. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans believe that serious gun crime is on the rise.
A recent Pew Research Center survey asked the question: “Compared with 20 years ago, has the number of gun crimes in America gone up, gone down, or stayed the same?” Among those surveyed, 56% said gun crime had gone up, 26% said it had stayed the same, and 12% said it had gone done. 65% of women said gun crime has gone up compared to 46% of men.
As to why most Americans don’t understand that gun crime has gone down, one can only speculate. Certainly, the way firearms-related subjects are reported by the mass media may play a role in confusing the general public.
We recommend that you read the Overview of the Pew Research Center Study, which presents many interesting (and thought-provoking) points. After “crunching the numbers”, the Pew researchers analyzed why gun crime rates have declined so dramatically over the last two decades. A variety of factors are discussed, including demographic changes, increased policing, and tougher laws.
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