Data released by the FBI on Monday showed that in 2005, the nation’s total violent crime rate was 38% lower than in 1991, when violent crime hit an all-time high. Rates of the individual categories of violent crime were also much lower in 2005 than in 1991. Murder was 43% lower, rape 25% lower, robbery 48% lower, and aggravated assault 33% lower. The FBI’s report came on the heels of a Bureau of Justice Statistics crime survey that found that violent crime was lower in 2005 than anytime in the survey’s 32-year history.
Defying the anti-gunners’ claim that more guns means more crime, from 1991-2005 the number of privately owned guns increased by more than 70 million.
The news media often characterize violent crime as a primarily gun-oriented problem, but the FBI’s report showed that only one in every four violent crimes in 2005 was committed with a gun. In 2005, as in previous years, most violent crimes were robberies and aggravated assaults, most of which were committed with knives or bare hands.
Recently, anti-gun politicians and activists have intensified their rhetoric over the “lack” of bans on handguns, so-called “assault weapons”, and .50-caliber rifles; gun registration, gun owner licensing, and mandatory background checks on sales of guns between friends and family members; and limits on the frequency of gun purchases, all of which they say are necessary to reduce the nation’s murder rate. But for the last seven years, the murder rate has been steady¾in the 5.5-5.7 per 100,000 population range¾at all times lower than anytime since the mid-1960s. In 2005, for example, the murder rate was 5.6.
Naturally, anti-gunners will downplay the downward trend in violent crime since 1991, and focus on the fact that the FBI’s report showed a 1% increase in total violent crime, and a 2% increase in murder in 2005, compared to 2004. But those changes are miniscule, compared to the huge decrease in crime over the last 14 years.
The FBI’s report once again confirmed that violent crime rates are lower in states with Right-to-Carry (RTC) laws. In 2005, RTC states had, on average, 22% lower total violent crime, 30% less murder, 46% lower robbery, and 12% lower aggravated assault rates, compared to the rest of the country.
As usual, Washington, D.C., which leads the nation in anti-gun laws, led the nation in murder, with a rate six times higher than the rest of the country. Neighboring Maryland, where gun control advocates have been particularly active recently, once again had the highest robbery rate among the states, but also tied for the unenviable distinction of “first place” in murder among the states. However, despite Maryland’s high crime counts, CeaseFire Maryland, the local Brady Campaign affiliate that recently released a paper demanding an “assault weapon” ban, was unable to point to any crimes in the state involving such a gun.
The FBI’s report must have displeased New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg (R). Despite the mayor’s recent posturing on the gun issue, and his self-laudatory comments about fighting crime, the Big Apple’s murder rate was more than double that of the rest of the state. Similarly, in Philadelphia, where anti-gun politicians are calling for a statewide one-gun-a-month law, the murder rate was more than seven times higher than the rest of Pennsylvania.
Adding to the reasons why voters should “Dump Doyle” in Wisconsin’s upcoming gubernatorial election, their state had the greatest total violent crime rate increase (15.1%) between 2004-2005. Murder was up 25.2%; robbery up 11.2%; and aggravated assault up 20.2%. Wisconsin is one of only two states that prohibits Right-to-Carry entirely, but in 2005, 11 of the 12 states that had the greatest decreases in total violent crime, and 12 of the 14 states with the greatest decreases in murder were Right-to-Carry states. The seven states with the lowest total violent crime rates in 2005, and 11 of the 12 states that had the lowest murder rates, were Right-to-Carry states.
Last, but not least, is good news from Florida, the state that during the last 20 years has been most often attacked by anti-gunners, for (among other reasons) setting the Right-to-Carry and “Castle Doctrine” movements in motion. In 2005, Florida recorded a murder rate 13% lower than the rate for the rest of the country (4.96 per 100,000, vs. 5.67 for the rest of the country). For the record, Florida’s 2005 murder rate was 58% lower than it was in 1986, the last year before the state’s landmark Right-to-Carry law took effect.