File this under “good news that won’t make too many headlines”; the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s released its Uniform Crime Report for 2018, and violent crime, including murder, declined significantly last year.
The 2018 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 368.9 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the estimated rate of property crime was 2,199.5 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate fell 3.9 percent when compared with the 2017 rate; the property crime rate declined 6.9 percent.
The violent crime rate in 2018 was the lowest this country has seen since 1971, when there were 396 violent crimes per 100,000 people. And unlike the 1970’s, when violent crime was on its way up, the trend since the early 1990’s has been towards a safer society. The nation’s violent crime rate in 2018 is less than half of what it was at its peak in 1991, which is fantastic news that will largely be ignored by our fear-mongering media.
While violent crime declined by nearly 4 percent, murders declined at an even greater rate, dropping 6.2 percent from 2017. At 5.0 homicides per 100,000 people, the U.S. homicide rate is near the 50-year low of 4.4 per 100k set back in 2014, and 2018 market a second straight year of declining homicide rates.
Far from an “epidemic” of violent crime, the United States is becoming more, not less safe. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, this news is going to be a one-day story, quickly dropped by a media that thrives on making Americans think crime is going up instead of down.
In 18 of 22 Gallup surveys since 1993 that have asked about national crime, at least six-in-ten Americans said there was more crime in the U.S. compared with the year before, despite the generally downward trend in national violent and property crime rates during most of that period.
Pew Research Center surveys have found a similar pattern. In a survey in late 2016, 57% of registered voters said crime in the U.S. had gotten worse since 2008, even though FBI and BJS data show that violent and property crime rates declined by double-digit percentages during that span.
It’s worth noting that, as violent crime has dropped, gun sales have climbed dramatically. Two decades ago, in 1999, there were a total of 9,138,123 NICS checks performed. In 2018, that number had nearly tripled to 26,181,936 checks. Now, not every NICS check represents a firearms sale, but it’s safe to say that we’ve added millions of privately owned firearms over the past two decades, and violent crime overall, and homicides specifically, have gone down while gun sales have gone up. The idea that more guns equals more crime is a foundational tenet of the gun control belief system, but it’s simply not true. We’ve actually had more guns and less crime over the past two decades, and hopefully that trend continues in the years to come.