June 19, 2024

Have Gun Homicide Rates Really Declined?

Many people, including this writer, believe that the number of gun crimes in America has increased over the years.  In reality, the number of gun homicides and violent gun crimes have dramatically declined over the past 20 years.

An in depth survey conducted by Pew Research shows that 45% of Americans think that gun crimes have gone up in recent years while 39% think that crime rates have stayed the same.  In reality, the actual number of U.S. gun homicides has plunged by 49% since 1993.  Researchers have no definitive reasons for the large drop in gun homicides and crimes committed with guns.  Some speculate that violence declined as baby boomers got older, while other researchers cite the high rate of imprisonment and reduced violence related to the drug trade.

Courtesy: pewsocialtrends.org

Courtesy: pewsocialtrends.org

The Pew Research survey had a number of fascinating facts about crime and gun violence in America, some of which are cited  below.

Young males constitute the large majority of gun homicide victims.  The firearm homicide rate for males of all ages is five times larger than it is for females.  Men and boys account for 84% of gun homicides and 69% of gun homicide victims are in the age range of 18 to 40 years old.

Although gun homicides have declined dramatically since the early 1990’s, gun violence has remained relatively stable since 2000.

The gun homicide rate since 1993 has declined by 49% even as the population increased.  Violent crimes committed with a firearm had a huge decline of 75% since 1993.

Courtesy: pewsocialtrends.org

Courtesy: pewsocialtrends.org

In 2010, there were a total of 31,672 deaths from firearms but the large majority of gun deaths was due to suicide which accounted for 19,392 deaths.  After subtracting suicide deaths there were only 12,280 deaths committed by firearms which is a remarkably low number considering the size of the population (315 million people) and the fact that guns are widely owned and easily available in America.

The majority of gun death victims are black, accounting for 55% of all gun deaths in 2010 with only 13% of the population.  Whites were 25% of the victims and Hispanics 17%.

The number of guns owned by Americans has increased by roughly 100% since 1968.  The per capita rate of gun ownership is  approximately one gun per person, which equates to about 315 million firearms of all types held by private citizens.  It was not clear to researchers how many households owned guns or whether the share of gun owning households had changed over the years.


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