What’s Missing From The FBI’s Causes of Crime List?

 (courtesy fbi.gov)

One of our readers was perusing the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports web page—as our readers are wont to do—and found this little gem:

Make valid assessments of crime

It is incumbent upon all data users to become as well educated as possible about how to understand and quantify the nature and extent of crime in the United States and in any of the more than 18,000 jurisdictions represented by law enforcement contributors to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the various unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. Historically, the causes and origins of crime have been the subjects of investigation by many disciplines. Some factors that are known to affect the volume and type of crime occurring from place to place are . . .

• Population density and degree of urbanization.
• Variations in composition of the population, particularly youth concentration.
• Stability of the population with respect to residents’ mobility, commuting patterns, and transient factors.
• Modes of transportation and highway system.
• Economic conditions, including median income, poverty level, and job availability.
• Cultural factors and educational, recreational, and religious characteristics.
• Family conditions with respect to divorce and family cohesiveness.
• Climate.
• Effective strength of law enforcement agencies.
• Administrative and investigative emphases of law enforcement.
• Policies of other components of the criminal justice system (i.e., prosecutorial, judicial, correctional, and probational).
• Citizens’ attitudes toward crime.
• Crime reporting practices of the citizenry.

AJ comments:

Now, sure, they said “some factors” that influence crime rates, but one would think that if gun laws had any appreciable effect on crime rates the good old FBI would have certainly made it a point to list that. However, they mostly listed what I call “people” factors, reinforcing the idea that crime is a people problem, not a gun problem, or even a gun law problem.


  1. avatar Loyd says:

    Shhhh! Don’t tell the Antis, or they’ll publish another Mother Jones article with “revised” statistics and cry about how the FBI is in the pocket of the “gun lobby”.

    1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      well, the FBI (Fast n Furious) and CIA (Syrian rebels aka terrorists) sure know how to move product quickly. If anything, this administration has given me the confidence to not sell my S&W and Ruger stock any time soon.

      1. avatar Tomy Ironmane says:

        Ruger I can believe, but S&W is kinda losing its polish from a customer service standpoint, IMO. The problem with buying stock in a firearms company is I can’t tell who was bought out by whom without a scorecard.

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    Well, I didn’t see any mention of two major causes of crime: Robert Hanssen and Lon Horiuchi.

  3. avatar tdiinva says:

    Inanimate objects don’t commit crime. We don’t classify bad behavior by animals as crime Only people commit crime so the factors that determine crime rates are all demographic. If gun control advocates were honest they would admit that they know that banning guns will probably result in more crime but fewer people will die and the price paid in increased rapes, assaults and home invasions will be worth it.

  4. avatar Layne says:

    After watching Alaska State Troopers for a while, I would say climate does NOT play a role in the volume or type of crime. Snow certainly helps with tracking criminals though.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Maybe they should have said season or weather instead. Crime does tend to flower when winter gives way to spring and summer.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Sunday nights in the dog days of summer were the worst for family beefs. Hot weather and drinking all day.
        Worse beating I ever took was from a drunk, half naked, lesbian midget… True story.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          Okay, give. You can’t lead with that and NOT tell the story.

        2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          Her GF had left her, so she decided to get drunk. She passed out. Friends became concerned and called 911. I got there and she’s topless, puking tequila-vomit all over herself. The ex-GF showed up, saw that the little one was drunk and started to leave. The passed out 4’5″ topless one woke up and decided she was going after her. Outside. Where all the neighborhood kids were. I grabbed the back of her shorts and she spun around in some kind of ninja move and hammer fisted me right on the nose. Cut my forehead, bloody broken nose, I’m trying to hold her, but she’s covered in vomit-sweat-tequila. I can’t see anymore cause of blood and sweat in my eyes (and the broken nose makes your eyes water anyway), My partner tasered her. Then it was off to the ER for her and me… fun times.

        3. avatar Swarf says:

          That is a fantastic story, Tom.

        4. avatar Ing says:

          So…it was a topless lesbian midget NINJA. That explains a lot.

          That story was every bit as awesomely weird as I thought it might be. Thanks for making me laugh…and I’m sorry. Not sorry enough to stop, but still sorry. 🙂

        5. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          If I’m in Oregon, or you in Kansas, we positively must crack a few beers and swap stories.

          Right now it’s laughing ’til I cry time. Drunk lesbian midget Ninja. Bee-ootiful!

        6. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          EDIT: Half-naked. You just can’t make this sh¡t up!

        7. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          Yes Sir, or a single malt scotch. On me.
          I’ve been told by more than a few that I should write a book. ‘Cause you can’t make this up!
          Geez, the guy arguing in the street wearing Homer Simpson boxer shorts backwards. Giving a ticket to a former governor.
          Pulling over a train cause he blocked traffic too long.
          Filing a report to get a warrant for Bill Clinton’s arrest for treason. (I got in trouble for that one).

        8. avatar bontai Joe says:

          Tom, thank you or that story, it was the best laugh I’ve had all week, and I needed it. Sounds to me like you have a really good book in you and should get to writing it soon!

      2. avatar Joe T. says:

        I can’t find the source at the moment, but somewhere north of 85% of all riots occur in the month of August. It’s been attributed to the level of heat.

        1. avatar Joe Wright says:

          Got your ass kicked by a Smurf. Know all about the nose job. Had the same thing done in a martial art class. Make you want to pee yourself.

        2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

          95° is the worst temperature.

          When it’s cooler than that people are still reasonable, and much above that it’s too hot to move, but at 95° people get irritable and don’t mind giving lessons.

  5. avatar Mike123 says:

    You boys are missing the biggest factor. The honesty of the reporting agency. Historically, NY, Chicago, and just about every police department in NJ massages their data.

    A couple years ago the NYPD blamed a crime wave on a LEO who decided to accurately report crime. What the NYPD does is to bump down the crimes one notch, rape to aggravated assault, agg assault to simple assault, robbery to theft, etc.

    1. avatar Avid Reader says:

      Read Second City Cop and you’ll see that Chicago is seriously cooking the books.

      1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

        Detroit used to do the same thing (and got caught) and now St. Louis wants to combine its data with the county to “smooth” out the numbers. . . . .

        1. avatar Joe Wright says:

          I was raised in St Louis, left in 69, at age 19. Nothing has changed, other then the color of the place. Cops used to carry throw down guns , in case they shot a black guy, “HE HAD A GUN”. My brother and I got stopped and questioned one day, across the street from our house. I was put in the car and my brother was questioned, then we switched. After they let us go, my brother showed me a .38 he swiped out of the glove box, never heard form them again. Had to convince my brother to get rid of the gun, told him there might be a murder on the gun.

    2. avatar Jonathan -- Houston says:

      “Massages their data” may be putting it too kindly. From what I hear from a couple of my researcher friends in academia, some PD’s crime reporting approach is more like “torture their data until it confesses.”

  6. avatar Andy says:

    I can tell, from experiencing it first hand, the UCR stats are skewed by little police departments intentionally misreporting crimes to make it look like their city/town/borough/county/township has a lower crime rate and lower violent crime rate than it actually does. Then you have cities like Chicago that just fail to submit the report in the prescribed format.

  7. avatar Anonymous says:

    Interesting read.

  8. avatar Don says:

    But… But… they forgot the NRA and AR-15s


  9. avatar Federale says:

    How about the presence of large numbers of Trayvon Martins?

    1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      @Federale – Corrected it for ya.

      “How about the presence of large numbers of Saint Trayvon Martins?”

  10. avatar John E> says:

    It is better to look at the UCR as well as the National Crime Victimization Survey at the BJS here:


    Higher than UCR, it also has a slight bias toward exaggeration (especially among juveniles). But when you blend the two together you get a more holistic view of crime.

  11. avatar ropingdown says:

    The list omits ‘rate per 100K of addiction to hard drugs or alcohol, For serious crime that should be very high on the list.

  12. avatar mark says:

    How about the person responsible for the crime? I see what you’re getting at ( prevalence of guns doesn’t lead to crime), but I read the list and missed anything related to the bum who commits the crime. Environmental factors are elements. Understanding why a crime is committed is the correct pursuit, not why a crime occured… Like when they say that a gun went off. Crimes are committed, not occurances.

  13. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    They also missed another aspect of gun laws, as laws affect rate of ownership and deployment, and therefor likelihood of DGU and crime in general.

    More guns=less crime, remember.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      EDIT: Oh, we’ll; never mind. Forgot it was causes of crime, not general statistics.

      Still, rabid gun laws, while not actually causing crime, do facilitate it.

    2. avatar Julian says:

      It seems to me that Flint and Detroit don’t really fit that particular narrative. Detroit probably has the highest murder rate in the country, yet MI does not have heavy handed gun control laws. I think that rather than gun control laws causing crime, they are largely a poorly thought out reaction to a high rate (or fear) of violent crime.

  14. avatar gringito says:

    Never before have I seen such a confusing presentation of data as the one on the mentioned FBI website…

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