Paul Helmke and Dennis Henigan -- spokesmen for the beleaguered Brady Campaign these days -- are old enough to know what a phonograph record is, so for their benefit we'll put it this way: At the risk of sounding like a "broken record," gun ownership has risen to an all-time high, and violent crime has fallen to a 35-year low. Coinciding with a surge in gun purchases that began shortly before the 2008 elections, violent crime decreased six percent between 2008 and 2009, according to the FBI. This included an eight percent decrease in murder and a nine percent decrease in robbery.
Since 1991, when total violent crime peaked, it has decreased 43 percent to a 35-year low. The murder rate, less than half what it was in 1980, is now at a 45-year low. Throughout, the number of guns that Americans own has risen by about four million a year, including record numbers of the two types of firearms that the Brady folks would most like to see banned -- handguns and the various firearms they call "assault weapons."
Predictions that increasing the number of guns would cause crime to increase have been proven profoundly lacking in clairvoyance. One of our favorite gems comes from the Brady outfit, when it was known as the National Council to Control Handguns: "There are now 40 million handguns. . . . the number could build to 100 million. . . . the consequences can be terrible to imagine," the group warned in the mid-1970s.
"Terrible consequences" indeed, for gun control supporters. The number of handguns has reached almost 100 million; waiting periods, purchase permits, and prohibitions on carrying firearms for protection have been dismantled in state after state; gun ownership has soared; and violent crime has plummeted.