Violence is never pretty. In a perfect world, people would never commit violence. Of course, we’d also all ride unicorns to work and go to Middle Earth for vacation from time to time.

But the perfect world doesn’t exist. We’re stuck with this one, which is fine. This world isn’t particularly bad. In fact, it’s good enough that even The Trace, an anti-gun “journalism” site, has admitted that the national murder rate isn’t all that bad.

The U.S. murder rate is often regarded as one of our country’s vital signs: Are Americans more or less safe than last year, when it comes to their odds of meeting a violent end?

But misinformation abounds. Is the murder rate really “the highest it’s been in 45 years,” as claimed by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump? (No.) Is Chicago America’s murder capital? (Also no.)

Because the vast majority of American homicides are committed with guns, both the national murder rate and the more relevant citywide and neighborhood murder rates — about which, more below — frequently figure into our reporting at The Trace. In this guide, we’ve collected the most up-to-date statistics on murders in America, as well as the critical context that often gets missed.

Long-term murder rates are down, despite recent increases

The data is clear: America is a much less murderous place than it once was.

Following its peak in the early-’90s, the national murder rate has declined steadily. The rate for big American cities — those with populations greater than 250,000 — follows a similar pattern, though with more dramatic fluctuations.

This follows NPR admitting a similar thing. What is up with this?

Well, the answer is quite simple. There’s a push to take away types of guns. Folks like us counter with our right to self-defense. So, these anti-gun media organizations decide to trot out numbers showing that violent crime isn’t as big of a deal as it was in the 1990s. The idea is, most likely, to try and paint us as paranoid, terrified of the boogeyman.

Of course, what NPR and The Trace forget is that the reason the nation became safer is because people started buying guns for personal defense. The 1990s were the heyday of states changing concealed carry laws to may issue permitting, thus making it so more and more people could carry firearms for protection. As a result, many violent criminals decided to reevaluate their life choices.

Violent crime rates fell, but not because of gun control. They fell as a result of loosening gun control laws.

But, gun control advocates don’t get to have it both ways. They don’t get to claim we absolutely need new gun laws because of some epidemic of violence while also peddling numbers that show society just isn’t that violent. That’s not how this works.

If you want to take our guns because of violence, you can’t turn around and claim that, in this time of relatively massive gun ownership, we have less violence and pretend it helps prove your point.

The truth is, guns save lives. They do it without ever even needing to be seen. When criminals suspect people might be armed, they rethink their plans. They might still be criminals, but they won’t be violent ones, and that’s a start.