Recently, the FBI reported that the nation’s total violent crime rate decreased 0.9 percent from 2013 to 2014, consisting of decreases of one percent in murder and six percent in robbery, and increases of 1.8 percent in rape and 1.3 percent in aggravated assault. Of these four types of violent crime under the Uniform Crime Reporting system, the decreases took place in the two in which guns are more likely to be used than in the two in which guns are less likely to be used. Further indicating that the decrease in violent crime was more emphasized where firearm-related violent crimes are concerned, the percentage of murders committed with firearms decreased 1.6 percent.
Viewed in conjunction with reports going back to 1960, the new data mean that violent crime is at a 44-year low and robbery is at a 48-year low. When FBI reports prior to 1960 (not available online) and earlier historical data are also taken into account, murder appears to be at an all-time low. The downward trend in violent crime has continued during a period in which FBI and ATF data indicate that Americans have been acquiring firearms in record numbers.
Comparable to previous years, in 2014, less than six percent of murders were committed with rifles and shotguns of all types, while knives and other edged weapons were used in 13 percent of murders, hands and feet in six percent, bludgeons in four percent and various other non-firearm weapons were used in smaller percentages.
As in previous years, there was no correlation between the states’ gun control laws and their crime rates and trends, anti-gun activists’ state “gun control scorecards” notwithstanding. Some states that have the most restrictive gun control laws have high violent crime rates and some have low rates, some have worse crime trends and some have better trends, and the same is true for states that have less restrictive gun laws. The FBI reports that a variety of factors, not including gun ownership rates or gun control laws, determine the type and volume of crime in each jurisdiction. Viewed in conjunction with reports going back to 1960, the new data mean that violent crime is at a 44-year low and robbery is at a 48-year low. When FBI reports prior to 1960 (not available online) and earlier historical data are also taken into account, murder appears to be at an all-time low.
Also as in previous years, cities accounted for a disproportionate share of violent crime. For example, the murder rate for metropolitan areas was 4.7 per 100,000 residents, as compared to 3.9 for cities outside metropolitan areas, and 3.0 for non-metropolitan counties. Certain cities were particularly responsible for the disparity between metropolitan areas and rest of the country, including Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Milwaukee, New York City, Philadelphia and the District of Columbia.
The murder rate in Detroit, which is subject to Michigan’s handgun registration law, was nearly 10 times the rate for metropolitan areas generally, at 43.5 per 100,000 residents. The rate in Baltimore, subject to Maryland’s handgun registration and waiting period law, and its “assault weapon” and “large” magazine ban, was not far behind, at 33.8 per 100,000. By comparison, the murder rates in Jacksonville and Miami, the largest cities in the state where the Right-to-Carry movement began in 1987, were far behind, at 11.2 and 19.2, respectively. Chicago accounted for the most murders of any city, followed by New York City, Detroit, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
The drop in crime in 2014 was not limited to crimes of violence. Property crime dropped five percent, including an 11.1 percent drop in burglary.