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Justice Department: Gun Murders Down 39 Percent From 1993 to 2011
New report says non-fatal gun crimes down 69 percent
By STEVEN NELSON
May 7, 2013
According to a report released Tuesday by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of firearm-related homicides declined 39 percent from 1993 to 2011. Non-fatal firearm crimes dropped 69 percent during the same period. There were 11,101 firearm-related homicides in 2011, the report said, compared to 18,253 in 1993. The decline was part of a multi-year downward trend. In 2011, there were 467,300 non-fatal firearm crimes, according to the report, down from 1.5 million such crimes in 1993. The steep decline was also part of a multi-year trend. [POLL: Americans Incorrectly Believe Gun Crimes Increased]
President Barack Obama frowns as he speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House about a bill to expand background checks on guns that was defeated in the Senate, April 17, 2013.
[READ: Joe Biden's Gun Advice Could Land Wife in Jail] The report, which used data provided by the BJS National Crime Victimization Survey and other government agencies, comes amid an intense push to establish new gun laws in the wake of high-profile mass shootings. Republican senators defeated a proposal in April to mandate background checks for all gun sales. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted that gun control measures would be voted on again later this year. During the time gun-related violence decreased, gun sales appear to have increased. Although a comprehensive tally of year-by-year firearm sales is impossible to determine with precision, FBI statistics for the number of NICS background checks performed suggest an upward trend in gun sales since the late 1990s. Around 9.1 million of the background checks - mandated by a 1993 gun control law and launched in 1998 - were performed in 1999, compared to 16.4 million performed in 2011. [SCHUMER: 'We're Going to Bring This Bill Back']
[MORE: Gun Control Bill Hits a Wall ... But Just For Now?] The data released Tuesday showed that a very small fraction of crime victims used a gun to defend themselves. "In 2007-11, about one percent of victims in all nonfatal violent crimes reported using a firearm to defend themselves during the incident," said the press release accompanying the report. "A small number of property crime victims also used a firearm in self-defense—about 0.1 percent of all property victimizations." The report said that 60 percent of state prison inmates arrested for a gun-related crime obtained their guns legally: 37 percent from family or friends, 10 percent from a retail or pawn shop and just 2 percent from a gun show or flea market. More News: Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention Chief Arrested for Sexual Assault 3 Missing Women Found in Cleveland, 3 Men Arrested Chris Christie Admits to Lap-Band Surgery
Steven Nelson is a reporter at U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at email@example.com. Read more stories by Steven Nelson
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Tags: gun control and gun rights
Study: Despite drop in gun crime, 56% think it's worse
By Meghan Hoyer and Paul Overberg
3:25 p.m. EDT May 7, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS The rate of gun homicides dropped 49% between 2010 and 1993 56% of Americans believe gun crime is worse today than it was 20 years ago 84% believe in recent years, gun crime has either gone up or stayed the same
Violent gun crime has dropped dramatically in the past two decades, but the majority of Americans think it's more of a problem now than ever, according to a Pew Research Center study released Tuesday. According to the survey, done in March, 56% of Americans believe gun crime is worse today than it was 20 years ago. And 84% believe in recent years, gun crime has either gone up or stayed the same — when the reality is that it has dropped significantly. The rate of non-fatal violent gun crime victimization
dropped 75% in the past 20 years; The gun homicide rate dropped 49% in the same period, according to numbers Pew researchers obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Bureau of Justice Statistics. "The public doesn't get its feelings out of crime statistics," said Alfred Blumstein, an urban systems professor at Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University. "The public gets its feelings from particularly notorious events, and what the press talks about." The recent attention on the massacre in Newtown, Conn., other mass shootings and even the spate of shootings in Chicago have fueled a perception that crime is up, even though in most cities it has dropped overall, he said.
GUN-RELATED HOMICIDE RATE
The gun-related homicide rate has dropped over the past two decades.
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1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010
Source: Pew Research Center; Centers for Disease Control
Meghan Hoyer and Paul Overberg
"It's not just gun crime — it's all crime has gone down," said David Hemenway, a professor at Harvard's School of Public Health. "But from the news, it sounds like school shootings are way up. Certainly since Newtown, these things are huge news. So people believe things must be worse." Hemenway called Pew's findings "not surprising at all." Others who survived captivity: USA NOW video
May 07, 2013
NON-FATAL VIOLENT GUN CRIMES
The victimization rate in non-fatal violent gun crimes has dropped by 75% in the past two decades.
800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0
285.4 245.7 221.6 195.3 205.9 161.4 181.5
1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011
Source: Pew Research Center; Bureau of Justice Statistics Meghan Hoyer and Paul Overberg
He said a recent case that attracted national news, where a 5-year-old boy in Kentucky accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old sister, was an example of a relatively commonplace event that, in light of the national focus on guns at the moment, became national news. "Every week or so, something like that happens," he said. "But that's the focus now, so people are not surprisingly misled. People worry about the wrong things. What people worry about are things that are salient in the news — things that happened recently, things that they have no control over."
AMERICANS' IDEAS ABOUT GUN CRIME
The Pew Research Center survey asked: Compared with 20 years ago, has the number of gun crimes in America gone up,
gone down or stayed the same? (%)
GONE UP STAY SAME
Source: Pew Research Center Meghan Hoyer and Paul Overberg
GONE DOWN DON'T KNOW
Pew researchers began their work before the elementary school shooting in Newtown in December 2012, said D'Vera Cohn, a co-author of the study. Pew plans a larger study of crime trends and public awareness later this year, she said. The survey found that women and the elderly were less likely to be victims of crime, but were more likely to believe gun crime had increased in recent years. Men, who were more likely to be victims, were more likely to know that the gun crime rate had dropped. Starting in 1993, homicides and robberies began to drop. Blumstein said that was in part due to the decline of the crack cocaine trade, which from 1985 to 1993 fueled a 25% increase in those crimes. Violent crime rates remained relatively flat through much of the 2000s, but then dropped by about 8% in 2009 and again in 2010, Blumstein said. Hemenway said researchers can't point to a singular reason why gun crime has dropped so significantly. The report points to the aging population, high incarceration rates and a drop in crime internationally since the mid-1990s as contributing reasons. "I think the big reason gun crime has gone down is because crime has been down," Hemenway said. "There's no huge thing — there's been no major changes in gun policy," There is a fear of a knee-jerk response based on the public's erroneous perceptions of crime, Blumstein said. For example, in the late 1980s, politicians instituted increasingly tough mandatory sentencing laws to lock up what some had deemed a new type of "super predator" involved in the street drug trade. The result has been overcrowded prisons and a number of first-time offenders serving overly long sentences, Blumstein said. As politicians weigh in on gun control, he said, they're very aware that many citizens believe that gun crime has gotten worse. "The public says 'I'm concerned, do something,' and the political system has to respond to that," he said.
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