This week, the FBI estimated that the number of violent crimes decreased 5.5 percent from 2009 to 2010, including a 4.4 percent decrease in the number of murders. Because the U.S. population increased during the period, the figures imply that the total violent crime per capita rate and the murder rate decreased more than six percent and five percent, respectively. Based upon the preliminary data, it appears that violent crime fell to a 37-year low and murder fell to a 47-year low. The FBI will report final figures for 2010 later this year.
We’re repeating ourselves, but, as has been the case for quite a while, the decrease in crime coincided with an increase in the number of privately owned guns—particularly handguns and detachable magazine semi-automatic rifles. For example, Americans bought over 400,000 AR-15s in 2009, and trends in AR-15 sales over the last few years suggest a similar number for 2010.
Those who have followed the gun control issue for a few years probably have noticed that with crime declining and gun numbers rising year after year, gun control groups have all but abandoned their previously perennial claims that more guns equal more crime. Even their friends in the news media don’t believe it anymore. The Violence Policy Center and, breaking with past habit, the Brady Campaign didn’t even try to claim that the decrease in crime in 2010 was attributable to gun control.
Neither did Mayors Against Illegal Guns, headed by New York City’s gun control activist mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg’s rare and welcomed silence is to be expected in this instance, however. New York City’s murder rate rose 15 percent despite its severe gun laws, while Bloomberg dedicated himself and lots of money to criticizing the less restrictive laws that are in place in other parts of the country.
Speaking of cities with less restrictive gun laws, El Paso had the greatest decrease in murder—58 percent— among cities of over 500,000 population in 2010. For those who are counting, El Paso’s estimated murder rate was 0.8 per 100,000 population, while New York City’s was eight times higher at 6.4. Across the border from El Paso, in Juarez, where the gun laws are more to Bloomberg’s liking, the murder rate is over 100 per 100,000.
Adding to the bad news for gun control supporters, the District of Columbia and Chicago—the handgun bans of which were repealed following the Supreme Court’s decisions in the Heller and McDonald cases in 2008 and 2010—experienced decreases in murder of eight percent and six percent, respectively.