Just How Bad is Gun Homicide Getting in the United States?

We are constantly told that our society is threatened by homicide crime due to a lack of laws restraining gun ownership. Any evidence?

Here’s a headline from Pew Research: “Gun Homicide Rate Down 49% Since 1993 Peak; Public Unaware.”

Would anything you read in the media give you the impression that gun homicide is going down, not up?

Side question: what would happen if we eliminated the cities that have gun prohibition laws? The gun homicide rate would be far lower.

However, the rate of decline has slowed recently, and even frozen for awhile (though the rate of other gun crimes kept going down). That should not be surprising. The lower the gun rate is, the slower the pace we should expect.

National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. Beneath the long-term trend, though, are big differences by decade: Violence plunged through the 1990s, but has declined less dramatically since 2000.

Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.

Nearly all the decline in the firearm homicide rate took place in the 1990s; the downward trend stopped in 2001 and resumed slowly in 2007. The victimization rate for other gun crimes plunged in the 1990s, then declined more slowly from 2000 to 2008. The rate appears to be higher in 2011 compared with 2008, but the increase is not statistically significant. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall also dropped in the 1990s before declining more slowly from 2000 to 2010, then ticked up in 2011.

The real question here is why would anyone be so irresponsible as to try to impose massive new gun prohibitions (sorry, I mean “common sense gun regulations”) when our society is already improving. How can anyone say for sure that the American gun homicide rate won’t increase if we have more gun laws? After all, we know that the government cannot really prevent criminals from getting guns and we know that people who are disarmed are easier to kill. We also know that people who are known to be disarmed are more attractive targets to people who want to kill with guns. Those factors could easily lead to an increase in homicide rates.

Do you think if our government stops our declining gun homicide rate and reverses it—or increases other forms of homicide and other crime—that legislators and lobbyists will apologize and undo all their new restrictions?

Not a chance.