Two sets of data published by the FBI seven months apart show increased gun ownership coinciding with a reduction in violent crime.
Last July, the FBI completed its monthly update of an online table showing the number of firearm-related checks conducted through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The new numbers showed that the number of checks increased from 8.9 million during the first six months of 2012, to a whopping 11.4 million during the same period in 2013, an increase of 29 percent.
Gun control supporters pretend that NICS checks that result in denials perfectly correspond with the denial of firearms to aspiring violent criminals, while denying that the numbers of approved checks indicate anything at all about trends in firearms purchases. However, while not as reliable an indicator of firearm purchase trends as the Annual Firearms Manufacturers and Export Reports and Firearms Commerce in the United States reports complied by the BATFE, the FBI’s NICS numbers provide a fair indication of such trends. Even though not all approved checks result in the acquisition of firearms, some checks result in the acquisition of multiple firearms. And even though some checks are conducted for carry permit purposes, some firearms are acquired through licensed dealers without a NICS check, based upon the exemption available in some states for persons licensed to possess or carry a firearm.
This week, the FBI issued a report comparing the numbers of violent and property crimes reported by law enforcement agencies during the first half of 2012 to the numbers reported during the first half of 2013. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports Section, “Preliminary figures indicate that, as a whole, law enforcement agencies throughout the nation reported a decrease of 5.4 percent in the number of violent crimes brought to their attention for the first 6 months of 2013 when compared with figures reported for the same time in 2012.”
Under the Uniform Crime Reporting System, violent crime consists of four categories of crime, each of which experienced decreases during the first half of 2013. Murders decreased 6.9 percent, rapes decreased 10.6 percent, robberies decreased 1.8 percent, and aggravated assaults decreased 6.6 percent. Of 30 cities of 500,000 or greater population, 20 reported decreases in murders, two reported no change in their numbers, and only eight reported increases.
Given these figures, we shouldn’t be surprised that a prominent gun control messaging guide counsels its readers to “[a]lways focus on emotional and value-driven arguments about gun violence, not the political food fight in Washington or wonky statistics." This is sound advice from their perspective, as the facts sure don’t support what they are trying to do.