“Firearm-related homicides dropped from 18,253 homicides in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011,” according to a report by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, “and nonfatal firearm crimes dropped from 1.5 million victimizations in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.
There were seven gun homicides per 100,000 people in 1993, the Pew Research Center study says, which dropped to 3.6 gun deaths in 2010. The study relied in part on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49 percent lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew,” according to the Pew study. “The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75 percent lower in 2011 than in 1993.”
All of that is good news — but many Americans don’t seem to be aware of it. In a survey, the Pew Research Center found that only 12 percent of Americans believe the gun crime rate is lower today than it was in 1993; 56 percent believe it’s higher.
In an effort to explain that finding, the Pew researchers noted that while mass shootings are rare, they capture public interest and are often viewed as touchstone events that help define they year in which the crimes occur. As examples, they cite three shootings in the past two years, in Tucson, Ariz.; Aurora, Colo.; and in Newtown, Conn.
The U.S. gun crime rate peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Pew study says, ending years of growth in gun violence that began in the 1960s. But the rate of suicides committed using a firearm hasn’t fallen as fast, they add, noting that 6 out of every 10 gun deaths in America stems from suicide.
To me, the more important number is the number of fire-arm related assaults – not murders. Sometimes the difference between an assault and a murder is the quality and access to quality emergency care and/or the bad guy’s aim.