A comforting report from msnbc.com highlights what they see as an incongruous silver lining in the country’s persistent economic doldrums: “Americans, take solace: While your chances of landing a job these days might not be great, you’re also less likely to be murdered, or robbed or to have your car stolen. The rate of major crimes in the U.S. continues to drop – even during the recent recession and its aftermath – and crime experts aren’t sure why.” Their “experts” explain that in every recession since WWII, there’s been an increase in crime rates. Criminologist and UC Berkeley law professor Franklin Zimring provides an appetizing visual by pointing out that, “What’s pushing it down is the mystery meat in the recipe of recent years.” But when he says “recent years,” what, precisely, does he mean?
According to recently released FBI crime statistics, the number of violent crimes — murder and non-negligent homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault — reported in the first six months of 2011 declined 6.4 percent compared with the first six months of 2010. The number of property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft) decreased 3.7 percent for the same time frame.
The report is based on information from more than 12,500 law enforcement agencies and shows the continuation of a downward trend in crime that began in 2008.
Hmmm, I wonder. Is there anything else that’s happened? Something that started in 2008 that might explain the drop in crime rates? Well, according to an October, 2008 story from the New York Times:
Sales of handguns, rifles and ammunition have surged in the past week, according to gun store owners around the United States who describe a wave of buyers concerned that an Obama administration will curtail their right to bear arms.
But is that just an anecdote or was that part of a bigger trend? According to the FBI, NICS checks (which are indicative of firearm sales) have been steadily rising since 2007. Looking at the 60 months of NICS checks from January 2007 through December 2011, there have only been eight months where sales didn’t rise over the previous year’s sales. In layman’s terms, people have been buying more guns each year than they did the year before. And the media have been all over this story for years.
So how does a non-credentialed, non-professorial, non-criminologist, non-journalist with no experts to call on connect these dots when a senior editor at msnbc.com can’t? It’s almost as if he’s wearing ideological blinkers or something. Perish the thought.