A slew of mass shootings this year has retriggered the debate over gun violence in America, with President Obama urging Congress to reform gun laws once again. Although most Americans believe gun crimes are on the rise, a recent Pew Research study found that, over the past two decades, gun ownership has risen while homicide rates have steadily fallen.
According to the report, between 1993 and 2000, the gun homicide rate dropped by almost half, from 7.0 homicides to 3.8 homicides per 100,000 people. Since then, the gun homicide rate has more or less stabilized. The most recent data was collected between 2010 and 2013, which revealed gun homicides had vacillated between 11,000 and 12,000 per year.
Furthermore, the report found that the number of gun deaths from suicide far exceeded those from homicide. While suicide rates declined after 1993, they’ve risen in recent years, from 6.3 per 100,000 people in 2010 to 6.7 in 2013.
While mainstream media reports give the general public the false impression that gun violence is on the rise in America, the nation’s overall gun death rate has dropped by 30 percent since 1993. This includes homicides, suicides, lethal police shootings and undetermined intent.
The rate of nonfatal gun victimizations declined in parallel with the gun death rate. Nonfatal gun rates dropped by 63% between 1993 and 2000. The decline since then has been a bit more rigid. In 2013, for instance, there were approximately 174.8 nonfatal violent gun victimizations per 100,000 people aged 12 and older.
Pew Research cross-verified by latest FBI statistics
These findings were cross confirmed by the FBI’s nationwide crime data released in September, which showed violence was still in decline in 2014. Murder and robbery rates were in decline, as well.
The FBI’s data did show an increase in aggravated assault and rape cases, however. Furthermore, the data collected stopped at the end of 2014. Data collected from 2015 may reveal a different story; however, if previous findings shed any light on future statistics, gun violence will continue to follow a declining trend.
“The story is actually better than we all anticipated it would be,” John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, told sources. “Violence is down a little bit. Property crime is down a lot… and all of this suggests that crime in America is continuing to move in the right direction.”
The evidence is in and the statics are clear. Nevertheless, many Americans are still under the false impression that gun crimes are on the rise. In a separate report conducted by Pew Research in 2013, an estimated 56 percent of Americans said they believed gun crimes rates had gone up. An additional 26 percent said they believed gun crimes had stayed the same, and a mere 12 percent said gun crime rates had gone down.
The most polarizing issue in America
Gun control is one of the most polarizing issues in America. According to a survey conducted in July, 50 percent of Americans said it is more important to control gun ownership, whereas 47 percent said protecting the Second Amendment is more important.
Fortunately, support for controlling gun ownership has declined in recent years. Americans were in favor of more gun regulations during the 1990s and early 2000s than today.
The most recent Pew Study is significant because it illustrates that not only do guns not cause homicide, they can actually prevent it. If there had been at least just one gun owner present during the recent San Bernardino massacre, the shooters most likely would not have been able to kill over a dozen people. A gun-free zone could not have stopped the terrorists, but an actual gun would have.
Although violence is still far too common in America, the most recent batch of statistics give gun owners reason to be optimistic. In so far as less government gun regulations are put into practice, gun crime rates will continue to decline.