The number of U.S. homicides has been falling for two decades, even though the number of guns has been growing every year.
Af Maria Arcel
Numbers from the FBI shows that there have been over 15% fewer murders by weapon from 2007 to 2011 in The United States. In 2007 the number of murders by weapons was 14,916 and in 2011 the same number was 12,664.
But there hasn’t been any more gun control in the same period of time – and therefor experts find it hard to explain, why we see this positive development.
Professor at New York University and specialist in criminal law James B. Jacobs says that nobody can answer the question with one hundred percent certainty.
“It is kind of a mystery why the numbers of murders has dropped so dramatically. Nobody knows exactly why this is. A lot of experts are trying to figure it out – but there is no clear answer to that question”, he says – but he still has his theories:
“One of the things we know is that the police has become better. They have more focus on violence prevention – they are concentrated on the hotspots where crimes occur and are one step ahead. Also more people are being sent to prison, so that’s another reason for the decrease in gun violence and murders – more of the bad guys are in prison.”
Professor at Carnegie Mellon University and expert in criminal justice, Dr. Alfred Blumstein agrees with the theories – but underlines, that nobody knows for sure, what the real reason is:
“This is a very interesting discussion. But it is very hard to explain why we are seeing this development” he says and continues.
“I know of no gun-control legislation enacted since 2001 that could account for the effect we are seeing. So this is definitely not the reason” – he explains.
In several polls we see that the American people believe that the number of murders are increasing – even though the opposite is actually the case.
Professor James B. Jacobs blames the media for this misunderstanding.
“They are not good enough to tell the positive developments – even though the gun violence is the lowest in 40 years.
And Dr. Alfred Blumstein agrees: “People always think crime is increasing, particularly since media play by the rule of “if it bleeds, it leads”
But despite the numbers of decreasing murders and increasing amount of weapons – research shows that where there are more guns there are more homicides. According to a report from The Harvard University – researchers proved through data from 26 developed countries, that where there are more guns available, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide and in particular firearm homicide.
And James B. Jacobs isn’t surprised by the research. He is not sure, that the lack of gun control in the US has anything positive to do with the decrease in the murders – but he acknowledge, that the two developments have been following each other:
“Every year the amount of guns in the US continues to grow, and every year the gun violence continues to drop. The discussion about how gun control may or may not affect the gun violence in a positive way – is a very difficult discussion. Because our logic tell us that of course there will be less violence with less guns, but at the same time we can see, that the amount of guns are increasing and the violence is decreasing – so there is no simple answer to the discussion” he says.
Dr. Alfred Blumstein isn’t only sure that the lack of gun control has no positive effects – he also thinks we would see even fewer murders if the US implemented more legislation.
“The Supreme Court decision and the Second Amendment of the US Constitution serve to make guns widely available – and yet we see the numbers of homicides by weapon drop. But homicide trends are affected by much more than legislation – and the trends over the last 20 plus years have been very interesting, mostly declining sharply – about a 45% drop – from about 1993 to 2000, flat until about 2008 and then declining fairly slowly again” – he explains.
According to The Guardian, the Americans have become more and more against gun control in the last decade. In 2004, 37 percent of the American people wanted to protect their gun rights, where 58 percent wanted more gun control. These numbers have changed dramatically over ten years – and in 2014, which is the newest numbers, 52 percent of the population wants to protect their gun rights and only 46 percent wants more gun control.