Gun Control Facts: Homicides and Violent Crime Have Dropped 50% Over the Last 20 Years


Contrary to what you may have read or seen on the news, the U.S. is not a gun-toting nation of violent cowboys and Rambo's. Oh, the message is there; it's just not supported by the facts.

The facts in this case, are official U.S. government crime figures released annually by the FBI. There are two sets of reports, Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), and Crime In The United States (CUIS). We'll also look at long range crime data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), which is also a Department of Justice reporting agency.

BJS homicide data goes back as far as 1976. That year there were 18,780 homicides.  The population was also smaller than it is today; population size affects the rate per 100,000 people, the default measure for reporting rates. Homicides in the U.S. peaked in the early 1990's and between 1990 to 1994 homicides were around 21,000-24,000, with single highest year clocking in 24,700 homicides (1991). The trend since then has seen crime go down.

FBI Uniform Crime Reports show homicides dropped to 12,664 in 2011, the last year available. The murder rate has dropped from 9.3 per 100,000 in 1992 to 4.7 per 100,000 in 2011.

The FBI's Crime In The United States report shows violent crime rates are also drastically declining, going from 757.7 in 1992 to 386.3 in 2011. The violent crime rate is now 50.9% of what it was 20 years ago. The homicide rate has declined by 48.7% in that same time period. These are not cute factoids taken out of context, but instead show a trend in declining violence in America that has been occurring for more than 20 years.

Consider this, in the middle of this 20-year period we had an assault weapons ban (a ban which the Center for Disease Control and other studies said had no measurable impact), and yet once the ban was lifted, violent crime and homicide still declined.

Some gun control advocates flock to the United Kingdom as an ideal example of gun control in a modern, industrialized, first-world nation. These advocates are quick to point out that the UK just posted the lowest homicides since 1983. But if we compare the U.S. to the UK, the U.S. has its lowest homicides in both number and rate since 1992 (20 years), and lowest number since at least 1976 (more than 35 years), and achieved without a current gun ban.

It seems impossible to go to a news source these days without hearing about violent crime, but the hype ain't all it's made out to be when you look at the facts objectively.