If you were to regularly watch and read the news (both local and national), you might take note that there are tragic acts of violence and hatred happening around us. And you might start to question if crime has risen … and if things have possibly gotten worse over the years.
It seems as if every headline printed in newspapers or discussed on television today is inundated with pessimism and riddled with sensationalism. And many reporters have been criticized (and exposed) for exaggerating the facts. More often than not, news stories have become overly hyped for the simple fact that ratings and readership may rise if people find the stories interesting … and, quite possibly, if those stories fit a certain “agenda.”
Undoubtedly, it has become more and more difficult to decipher what is truth and what is bias. And it seems that the media is no longer telling the news and is now just selling it. So when it comes to violent crime around our nation, what is real and what are we supposed to believe? Are murder numbers through the roof? Are mass casualty events on the rise?
Less Violent Crime
Interestingly enough, according to Pew Research, “Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply over the past quarter century. The two most commonly cited sources of crime statistics in the U.S. both show a substantial decline in the violent crime rate since it peaked in the early 1990s.” For example, using FBI numbers, violent crime in America fell by 49 percent between the years of 1993 and 2017. In 2013, the violent crime rate was the lowest since 1970. As well, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) shows that the overall crime rate fell 74 percent during that time span.
*Want to sort out the fact from the fiction? Check out the USCCA’s newest resource!
But according to a Gallup poll from November 2014, despite major declines in the nation’s violent crime rate, a majority of Americans believe there’s more crime in the U.S. than ever. In fact, 63 percent believe crime is up, even though crime statistics released by the FBI in November 2014 (the same month and year) revealed that the estimated number of violent crimes decreased by 4.4 percent when compared to the previous year.
Pew Research Center surveys found a similar pattern of possibly misled and misinformed Americans: “In a survey in late 2016, 57 percent of registered voters said that crime in the U.S. had gotten worse since 2008, even though FBI and BJS data show that violent crime and property crime rates declined by double-digit percentages during those years.”
More Concealed Carry Permits
Meanwhile, there has also been an explosion in the number of concealed carry permit holders in the United States, with a noticeable jump from 2.7 million in 1999 to 14.5 million in 2016. In fact, the rates of Americans qualifying for permits has increased from 240,000 annually just a decade ago to 1.83 million in 2018 alone. And that figure doesn’t account for individuals who live in states without permit requirements.
In addition, research from legal scholar Dr. John Lott, Jr. at the Crime Prevention Research Center has shown that “states with the largest increases in gun ownership also have the largest drops in violent crimes.” Why? Responsibly armed citizens “reduce the number of attempted crimes because criminals are uncertain which potential victims can defend themselves.” (Read about Lott’s research in depth in his book More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws.)
That information doesn’t seem to make the headlines though. While there is substantial data showing LESS violent crime in our nation, there is only MORE media hype about crimes, especially those committed with firearms. And, disappointingly, we continue to see horrific stories of what the media likes to call “gun violence” and hear their cries for more and more gun control.
It’s no wonder the public perception of crime is at odds with the data. And, ultimately, an even more damaging offense than the sensationalism the mass media is incorporating may be the information they are intentionally leaving out.
About Beth Alcazar
Beth Alcazar, author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals, associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and creator of the Pacifiers & Peacemakers blog, has enjoyed nearly two decades of working and teaching in the firearms industry. Beth is passionate about safe and responsible firearms use and enthusiastic about teaching others. She is certified as an instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.