"Guns Galore" in Texas is where they say the recent Fort Hood shooter bought his weapon before using it to kill three and wound 16 (Photo: Getty Images).
One thing that I absolutely despise is how serious news stories can become political tools. Whether it be the horrific events in Newtown or the tragic news out of Fort Hood, it almost disturbs me how quickly the death of innocent human beings becomes talking points for either political party.
I write this not as a Conservative or Republican, but as an individual who wanted to investigate gun statistics. Just based on what you see online, hear on the radio, or read in a newspaper, it would seem that we live in a gun-obsessed culture with violent crime increasing rapidly. But, what I found was might surprise you. It certainly surprised me.
1) When did we hit a peak in gun homicide rates? Initially I would have guessed within the past year or two. But, I was wrong. Some time in the past five years? No. Was it in the past ten years? No. The past fifteen years? Wrong again. The past twenty? No, but that’s close. According to the Pew Research Center, it was twenty-one years ago in 1993 when we hit an unfortunate high point in gun-related murder. Despite the obvious increase gun crime stories, we’re not at a peak.
2) It certainly does seem there is an upswing in gun-related deaths. But, that is not the case at all. Over the past few decades, we’ve actually experienced a decrease in firearm homicides. Before I give you the answer, think about it for a moment. How much do you think gun-related homicides have decreased by? 5-percent? Nope. 10-percent? Nope. Ok, shoot for a high number: 20-percent. The answer is actually more than double that. Gun-related killings have decreased 49% over the past two decades.
3) Let’s talk about non-deadly gun crime for a moment. Do you think assaults with a weapon have gone up or down? Surprise, surprise: that has decreased as well. In 2011, violent crime with a firearm was down 72-percent from where it was back in 1993.
4) The Department of Justice and Center for Disease Control report gun homicides decreased 39% from 1993 to 2011. The DOJ and CDC also say non-fatal gun crimes went down 69% in that same 18-year span.
5) Even another government agency reported declines in firearm-related murders. The FBI states that in 2007, they tallied 10,129 murder victims tied to guns. That number dropped to 8,583 in 2011 – a 15% decrease.
Surprised, right? Contrary to popular belief, gun crime is decreasing. So, why does it appear just the opposite is happening? It is because there is a trend right now to report stories that involve guns. They know you are more likely to click a story, stay tuned in, or pick up that paper if it is an emotional, dramatic, and gun-related tale. This is having an impact on public opinion. According to that study from the Pew Research Center, 84-percent of Americans think gun crime has increased when it clearly has not.
I am not saying there should be no gun laws whatsoever. The question is how far should they go. Guns are dangerous and meant to harm or kill in the right setting. However, what we can’t do is continue to allow the blurring of lines between hype and fact. And, I don’t think a little more common sense would kill us, either.