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There’s something strange going on in America. The FBI’s 2010 Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report tells of a a 5.5 percent drop in violent crime and a 2.8 percent decline in property crime. [NSF bullet points after the jump.] With the economy in the tank, you’d think that crime would be on the upswing. Well, you might, if you were one of those Patrick Kennedy-types who blames bad behavior on society. You know: less opportunity to succeed through gainful employment, more desire to take what ain’t yours. Gun rights supporters reckon the falling crime rate is down to surging firearms sales. You know: deterrence by Ruger. Me, I’m going with technology . . .

Smart phones help catch dumb people. And maybe the wired world decreases the rage and frustration that under and unemployed folk feel when they’re disconnected from their fellow man. Nah. I’m sticking with techno-busts. Or something.

But rising gun sales? As much as I’d like to believe it, I’m not feeling it. Connecting the two trends is false synchronicity, which is nowhere near as good as what the Police did.

Violent Crime

  • In 2010, all four of the violent crime offense categories—murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault—declined nationwide compared with data from 2009. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter declined 4.4 percent, forcible rape decreased 4.2 percent, robbery declined 9.5 percent, and aggravated assault was down 3.6 percent.
  • Violent crime declined in all city groups. Cities with populations of 250,000 to 499,999 saw the greatest decline in violent crime (6.9 percent). Violent crime in non-metropolitan counties decreased 6.4 percent, and in metropolitan counties, it declined 6.0 percent.
  • Murder and non-negligent manslaughter offenses dropped 25.2 percent in the nation’s smallest cities (under 10,000 in population). However, in cities with populations of 250,000 to 499,999, murder and non-negligent manslaughter offenses increased 3.0 percent.
  • All city and county groupings experienced a decline in forcible rapes except in cities with 500,000 to 999,999 inhabitants, which showed the only rise in forcible rapes (1.9 percent).
  • Robbery offenses decreased in all city and county groupings, with the largest decrease (10.9 percent) reported in cities with 500,000 to 999,999 inhabitants.
  • Aggravated assaults decreased in all city groups. Cities with 250,000 to 499,999 inhabitants experienced the greatest decrease (5.5 percent). Aggravated assaults declined in both county groups, with the largest decrease (5.8 percent) reported in non-metropolitan counties.
  • Violent crime decreased in all four regions of the country in 2010. There was a 7.5 percent decrease in violent crime in the South, a 5.9 decline in the Midwest, a 5.8 percent decrease in the West, and a 0.4 percent decline in the Northeast.

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  1. Even if your reticence is tongue in cheek (but I don’t think it is), the increase in firearms doesn’t have to be causative. More firearms may not cause crime to decrease, but it proves (again) definitively that more firearms doesn’t cause crime to increase. That’s enough to make the Helmke irrelevant.

  2. Lies, damn lies, and statistics…

    I guess my issue is this, true or not – it should not be used to support any argument for or against more liberalization of guns because being armed is a right, period. Whether violence goes up or down is a societal issue, not a legal or crime issue. Our stance against the gun-grabbers should always be founded in the RIGHT and not any possible correlational effect from an armed or disarmed society. BUT, it’s nice to have this in the back pocket for the sparring sessions I suppose.

    • One interesting thought to consider in all of this – if we take an argument that people will commit murder no matter what, and I do believe there is truth to that, but then apply an extreme I think it brings up an interesting topic for discussion. That is, could certain devices, weapons, make it easier to commit more murders more easily? Take the extreme, should people be allowed to buy nuclear weapons over mail-order, because, well, we have a right to arms and if someone is going to do mass killings we can’t do much to stop them anyway.
      Well of course that is preposterous, no one in their right mind would think civilians should be able to have nuclear weapons, let alone be able to EASILY purchase them, for the very reason that they make mass murder much too easy and it’s not safe for most people to have that.
      Ok so if we accept that people shouldn’t have nuclear weapons, where then is the line that we should draw? Certainly some things we can agree are not safe for people to own (Nuclear weapons), but others items that are potential weapons would be ridiculous to take away (hammer, knife, ice pick, etc…). So, where should the line be drawn? Certainly somewhere, but where? I think THAT is really the question in my mind.

  3. I think it’s common sense. if criminals start to realize that breaking into the car in the driveway or kicking in the front door on that house is more likely to be met with a bullet, then they think twice and go for something less dangerous. We have had more reports in the last year of property owners/residents fighting back here in SC than I ever recall. Having stopped an attempted home invasion myself in the 90’s, I tend to note things like this as I hear about them. Now I’m just looking for the day you can fire at will on those cars riding through the subdivision, thumping from the bass in their speakers…

  4. Perhaps pairing those cities/states crime rates with their respective posture on gun laws would make for a better argument. Otherwise, this was nothing more than a data dump.

  5. The US has more criminals in prison than any other country. With so many bad actors in the joint, it’s no wonder crime rates are falling. Also, it’s easier and more profitable for crooks to sell dope than to stick up their local 7/11. The stick-up men who can’t make the transition to drug salesmen are invariably morons who end up in the joint for longish prison sentences, further swelling the prison population and thus reducing violent crime against you and me. So why do we “need” guns? They’re our last line of defense.

    One question about my little thesis. If it’s true that violent men are drawn to dope dealing and away from armed robbery because dealing is easier and more profitable with less risk, then what would happen if drugs were to be legalized?

    • And then the liberals on the SCOTUS decide the answer to prison over crowding is….. “release”. Watch for the bounce. It is going to be huge, baby.

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