Conservatives have been saying it for months and now new data back up the claims. America isn’t a shooting gallery. Our schools are not war zones. And there is no gun violence epidemic. According to Pew Research, homicides rates have stabilized, with the overall gun death rate dropping 30 percent since 1993:
Several mass shootings this year have brought renewed attention to the issue of gun violence in America, and President Obama has again called for Congress to change the nation’s gun laws.
But the increased spotlight on guns does not reflect the overall gun violence trend in the country. Although most Americans think the number of gun crimes has risen, the U.S. gun homicide rate has actually stabilized somewhat in recent years, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of death certificate data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The nation’s overall gun death rate has declined 30% since 1993. This total includes homicides and suicides, in addition to a smaller number of fatal police shootings, accidental shooting deaths and those of undetermined intent. For example, in 2013 there were 467 fatal police shootings, up from 333 in 2009.
Yet, Pew did note that suicides are growing, which is something that needs to be tackled, hopefully in congruence with reforming our mental health system. In 2013, Pew found there was a 49 percent drop in gun homicides between 1993-2010. The Bureau of Justice Statistics marked a 39 percent drop in gun-related homicides between 1993-2011, roughly the same period. Recently, the FBI noted a 3.9 percent drop in gun homicides between 2013 and 2014. The numbers might be different, but the conclusion is the same: gun homicides are down.
So, there is no need to curb Second Amendment rights with onerous and ineffective new gun laws, like expanding background checks, which have proven to be unable to stop mass shootings. Oregon has a universal background check law. Chris Harper-Mercer was still able to commit an horrific shooting at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg since he didn’t break any laws, nor was he involuntary committed for mental health issues. Most mass shooters buy their firearms legally, and share a character profile that’s found in millions of young men who don’t commit murder. So far, the gun control crowd has offered no serious policy solutions in trying to curb gun violence; it’s mostly grounded in talking points more appropriate for a fundraising mailer than a policy debate.