By: Teresa Mull
A talking point liberals – and notably, the Democratic candidates running for the 2020 presidential election – are fond of making, is that there are “too many guns” in America, and we have a violent crime “problem.”
Of course any violent crime is too much. But is America really that unsafe? And are guns to blame?
Reuters reported last year:
The Small Arms Survey, an independent global research project based in Geneva, Switzerland, found that there were more than 1 billion firearms in the world, of which civilians owned 85 percent, while the rest were held by militaries or law enforcement agencies.
The number of guns owned by civilians globally rose to 857 million in 2017 from 650 million in 2006, the survey said. There were 120 guns for every 100 U.S. residents in 2017, it found, followed by Yemen with nearly 53 firearms per 100 people.
“The biggest force pushing up gun ownership around the world is civilian ownership in the United States. Ordinary American people buy approximately 14 million new and imported guns every year,” survey author Aaron Karp told reporters.
Keep this in mind when you read what Pew Research reported last year:
Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply over the past quarter century. The two most commonly cited sources of crime statistics in the U.S. both show a substantial decline in the violent crime rate since it peaked in the early 1990s. One is an annual report by the FBI of serious crimes reported to police in approximately 18,000 jurisdictions around the country. The other is an annual survey of more than 90,000 households conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which asks Americans ages 12 and older whether they were victims of crime, regardless of whether they reported those crimes to the police.
Using the FBI numbers, the violent crime rate fell 49% between 1993 and 2017. Using the BJS data, the rate fell 74% during that span.
Property crime has declined significantly over the long term. Like the violent crime rate, the U.S. property crime rate today is far below its peak level.
Public perceptions about crime in the U.S. often don’t align with the data. Opinion surveys regularly find that Americans believe crime is up nationally, even when the data show it is down.
Also remember that places with the most gun control – Chicago, for instance, have soaring crime rates.
The American Civil Rights Union reported last year on a Harvard study:
The study, which just appeared in Volume 30, Number 2 of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy (pp. 649-694), set out to answer the question in its title:
“Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence.” Contrary to conventional wisdom, and the sniffs of our more sophisticated and generally anti-gun counterparts across the pond, the answer is “no.” And not just no, as in there is no correlation between gun ownership and violent crime, but an emphatic no, showing a negative correlation: as gun ownership increases, murder and suicide decreases.
What’s more, states with Constitutional Carry laws on the books, such as Maine and Vermont, are also the safest.
Gun Owners of America reports:
West Virginia enacted permitless carry in 2016. A half year later, law enforcement says they have “not noticed an increase in gun violence since the law went into effect six months ago.”
Likewise, Alaska enacted Constitutional Carry in 2003; Arizona followed in 2010. Both states saw their murder rates decline by 30% in the first five years.
Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.