Lies, Damn Lies, And Violent Crime Statistics

If you listen to gun control advocates, you’re likely to hear a great deal about how there’s just so much violent crime that we don’t have a choice but to step in and pass gun control. There’s an epidemic, you see. An epidemic of violence.

Now, to be fair, there sure does seem to be a spike in violent crime in recent months. However, these last few months haven’t been typical. Nor is there any way to know if this is a short-term spike brought on by societal anxiety or something more long-term.

Yet the anti-gunners often aren’t even talking about recent events. They can’t since their claims predate COVID-19 and everything that fell apart from there.

The question is, is there such an epidemic? Not really.

During last week’s Democratic National Convention, party leaders decried the “epidemic of gun violence” to justify their calls for ever more draconian gun control. While this surely makes a compelling sound bite, the facts expose it as nothing more than Democrat fearmongering.

Homicides with guns in the U.S. hit a historic high of 17,075 in 1993 before falling to 7,803 in 2014, a drop of 54%. They rose again from 2015 to 2017, and fell in 2018, at that point still 40% below 1993 totals. The gun homicide rate (deaths per 100,000) fell even more precipitously, to 3.1 — half the 1993 rate.

An astute historian might note that these homicide rates peaked the year before the Democrats’ 1994 “assault weapons” ban and argue the rate fell as a result of the ban. But there is a flaw in that logic; namely, the data doesn’t support it.

The so-called “assault weapons” ban ended in 2004, and despite rising levels of gun ownership following its expiration, the number of homicides committed with guns continued to plummet for another decade, including a more than 30% decline between 2005 and 2011 alone. It’s also worth noting that more people are murdered by hands and feet each year than by rifles of any type.

With the expiration of the “assault weapons” ban in 2004, and the Supreme Court’s decisions in Heller (2008) and McDonald (2010), which established the Second Amendment’s true meaning, the accessibility of firearms for private citizens increased. If the Democrats’ claims were correct, we should have seen an explosion in deaths by firearm.

Instead, gun homicide totals have stayed relatively constant (between 8,000 and 11,000 per year) as gun sales have drastically increased over the last decade and a half. Nearly 27 million firearms have been sold in the last 18 months alone, placing the total number of privately held firearms in the U.S. at well over 400 million.

In other words, if the claim that accessibility to guns spurs an increase in gun-related crimes, then you would expect to see a correlation between the two. While correlation doesn’t equal causation, if something is causation, it does create a corollary.

There isn’t one.

While some pockets within the nation as a whole might be seeing a prolonged increase in violent crime, the national trend has been downward for decades now, mostly during a time when gun rights have actually expanded.

But that doesn’t sell gun control.

Instead, anti-gunners must sell a doom-and-gloom version of the world where action must be taken or your children will be gunned down a hundred times a day. They can’t win on the facts–as noted above by author Louis DeBroux–so they have to try and win on emotion. They can’t push their agenda unless they make you scared. They can’t win if they don’t make you hurt.

Yet you’re not going to feel scared or hurt if you find out that violent crime has been trending down for ages at this point, now will you?