WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — Gun homicides have dropped steeply in the United States since their peak in 1993, a pair of reports released Tuesday showed, adding fuel to Congress’ battle over whether to tighten restrictions on firearms. The findings throw cold water on one of the main arguments made by gun control advocates, that more firearms regulations are needed because gun violence is spiraling out of control.
A study released Tuesday by the government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that gun-related homicides dropped from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011. That’s a 39 percent reduction.
Another report by the private Pew Research Center found a similar decline by looking at the rate of gun homicides, which compares the number of killings to the size of the country’s population. It found that the number of gun homicides per 100,000 people fell from 7 in 1993 to 3.6 in 2010, a drop of 49 percent.
Both reports also found the rate of non-fatal crimes involving guns was also down by around 70 percent over that period.
But perhaps because of the intense publicity generated by recent mass shootings such as the December massacre of 20 school children and six educators in Newtown, Conn., the public seems to have largely not noticed the reductions in gun violence, the Pew study shows.
The non-partisan group said a poll it conducted in March showed that 56 percent of people believe the number of gun crimes is higher than it was two decades ago. Only 12 percent said they think the number of gun crimes is lower, while the rest said they think it remained the same or didn’t know.
First Lady Michelle Obama. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
That may have something to do with the dramatic anti-gun rhetoric coming from anti-gun advocates. First Lady Michelle Obama last week told students at a Chicago high school that kids across the nation “wake up and wonder whether they’re going to make it out of school alive” because of guns.
In March, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) told MSNBC that so-called “assault weapons” wereclaiming the lives of “millions of kids.” Of course the statement is incorrect, but it was such an inaccurate statement it boggles the mind how he came up with that figure.
In 2011, the total number of gun homicides in the U.S. was 8,583. Using the 2011 total gun-related murder rate, it would take more than 116 years for one million people to be killed by a firearm.
These are just a few of the many example when gun control advocates have resorted to baseless emotional arguments to demonize guns and exaggerate the effect of gun violence. Now, 8,583 gun murders every year is 8,583 too many. However, we can’t have an honest debate about gun violence if we aren’t holding to the truth.
The trend in firearm-related homicides is part of a broad nationwide decline in violent crime over past two decades, including incidents not involving firearms.
But handguns play a major role in violent crime. The Justice study said that in 2011, about 70 percent of all homicides were committed with a firearm, mainly a handgun.
The data was released three weeks after the Senate rejected an effort by gun control supporters to broaden the requirement for federal background checks for more firearms purchases. Senate Democratic leaders have pledged to hold that vote again, and gun control advocates have been raising public pressure on senators who voted “no” in hopes they will change their minds.
Gun rights advocates have argued that people are safer when they are allowed to own and carry guns. Those supporting gun control say that with more background checks, gun violence would drop because more criminals and mentally unstable people would be prevented from getting weapons.
TheBlaze on Tuesday reported on some interesting FBI statistics that revealed California had the most gun murders in 2011 and a high gun murder rate, despite being named the state with the strongest gun control laws by the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence that same year.
Additionally, Washington, D.C., another state with strong gun regulations, topped the 201 list for total gun murder rate with 12 homicides per 100,000 people.