You may have heard about a recent Pew survey poll that showed only 12% of Americans believe that gun crime has been on the decline in the last few years. Naturally, this misconception conflicts with the truth of the matter — that firearms related deaths have been declining every year since 1993. Even the BBC begrudgingly admitted to the facts . . .
The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics said firearms-related homicides had dropped to 11,101 in 2011 from 18,253 – a reduction of 39%.
Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center found gun homicides fell to 3.6 per 100,000 people in 2010 from 7 in 1993.
The figures were released three weeks after US senators rejected proposals to extend background checks on gun sales.
President Barack Obama has campaigned for tighter firearms laws after 26 people died in a school shooting in Connecticut in December.
Despite the drop, some 56% of Americans believe gun crime is higher than two decades ago and only 12% think it is lower, according to the Pew Reseach Center.
A quick aside about the Beeb. We (Robert, Dan and myself) were seated across the table from the BBC’s correspondent in the media center at the NRA Annual Meeting this past weekend. He tried to seem indifferent about guns and gun control, but instantly challenged any figure we brought up that portrayed guns in a positive light. He seemed unable to accept the possibility that guns aren’t the scourge that the network regularly makes them out to be. Which might explain their lack of eloquence when it comes to a story about how gun crime in the United States isn’t actually as bad as the public is lead to believe.
Yes, 924 adults (the size of the Pew study group) is a fairly small sample size, but that doesn’t mean the result is completely off the mark.
Assuming that the survey is valid, what are the odds that these numbers are the real reason behind the support for increased gun control regulations? Despite facts and logic being on the side of gun rights advocates, could the “feeling” that gun crime is worse than it is be fueling the emotion fueled decision-making process of low information voters? Perhaps, then, the best route to preserving the Second Amendment is educating the public about the truth of the gun crime numbers.
Then again, who has the time to watch a commercial about crime stats and logical arguments when you could be watching Kim Kardashian latest OB/Gyn visit on cable?