The American Conservative just published an anti-gun article by Zach Beauchamp of Think Progress (!). Throughout the article, Beauchamp keeps repeating the figure of “32,000 deaths from gun violence per year.” I guess this is supposed to shock the reader—it certainly seems like a big number. But it would be nice to know how this number compares to years, say, in the 1990s, when there was an assault weapons ban in effect.
For those wanting some context, the Department of Justice’s own Bureau of Justice Statistics (hardly a bunch of partisan gun nuts) publishes data on historic violent crime trends. Granted, their data don’t say anything about gun crimes versus non-gun violent crimes. But they do show that, contrary to Beauchamp’s implications, the murder rate has remained constant through high and low gun-control years.
Perhaps most importantly, they also show that, though the anti-gun Left likes to talk about modern America as if it were the Wild West, your actual likelihood of being the victim of any violent crime is much lower now than it ever has been before. The FBI reports that the decrease in violent crime has only continued since the BJS survey ended. NBC News covered that story earlier this year. (Whether they’re likely to bring it up again after Sandy Hook, however, is anyone’s guess.)
None of this is conclusive evidence against gun control—the anti-gun people could still say that crime would be even lower with more control. But it gives us at least one more reason to believe that crime can be effectively reduced without gun control.
Bureau of Justice Statistics survey:
National Crime Victimization Survey Violent Crime Trends, 1973-2008
To the best of my knowledge, the weird 2009 change in the murder rate comes from using a different reporting method. (See here, p. 2.)
Here are the FBI data: