As Violent Crime Rises Everywhere Else, Maine's Drops

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The state of Maine is kind of unusual for a New England state. On one hand, the state has voted Democrat in every presidential election since 1992 and their legislature is predominantly Democrat.

On the other hand, they don’t actually have a plethora of gun control laws. In fact, just looking at their gun laws, with the exception of a red flag law, one might think they were located in the Deep South.

That’s not the only unique thing about them, though. It seems while violent crime is rising everywhere else, Maine’s dropped for the ninth straight year.

It’s good news for Maine, as the number of violent crimes across the state continued to decline in 2020.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe crime is going down in Maine, especially when you report on it every day as I do. But, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety, Maine has seen its crime numbers go down for the 9th year in a row. The changes are not drastic, but they’re headed in the right direction.

Crime by the numbers in Maine.

Overall, crime decreased by 6.1% in 2020. Over the past nine years, crime numbers have gone down by 62.7%

There were 17,347 crimes reported in 2020, which figures out to a crime rate of 14 offenses for every 1,000 people in Maine. Nationally, the crime rate was 25 offenses per 1,000 people in 2019 so, again, it’s good news for Maine.

Violent crime numbers were down in Maine, overall, with a decline of 4.9%. That figures out to 1 offense for every 1,000 people, which is 1/4 of the national average of 4 crimes per 1,000. Here’s how it breaks down:

So what gives? Why is Maine seeing a decrease in violent crime while everyone else is seeing yet another year of increases?

Well, there are a number of reasons. Obviously, the fact that they don’t have typical New England gun laws sure doesn’t hurt, but as much as I’d like to place all the credit there, I can’t.

After all, crime is up in a lot of pro-gun states, too. If good gun laws were the only potential factor, we wouldn’t see that.

Yet Maine has a couple of other factors working in its favor. For one thing, it’s the most rural state in the nation. The entire state only has 1.3 million people or so, for example. Some states have cities with more folks than that.

As for cities, the largest city in Maine is Portland, with a whopping 65,000 people. My own town of Albany, GA feels fairly small for a city, yet we’ve got a population of around 73,000.

Maine is also on the lower end with regard to poverty. Couple less population density with lower poverty and decent gun laws and you’ve to a recipe for lower violent crime overall.

The downside, of course, is that this isn’t really something that can be replicated in other states. While Californians are happily leaving the state, it’s not happening enough to actually spread people around to a sufficient degree. In part because a lot of people don’t want to live a rural life.

That’s fine, of course. It’s not for everyone.

But it likely is a contributing factor for Maine’s success in avoiding the violence surge plaguing everyone else.