Perspective needed on murders in America

Dec. 28, 2012

By John Seiler

Our country still mourns the victims of the horrible mass killing in Newtown, Conn. New gun-control legislation is being advanced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and in the California Senate by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco. More bills are likely to be introduced in the federal and state legislatures.

But the fact is that, despite the recent spate of mass killings, murders have been declining sharply for two decades across the United States, including in California. The data are easily available at the Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics database of the U.S. Department of Justice. Yet it’s hard to find opinion and news leaders who have checked this data. You can go to the site and access the data directly.

The database extends from 1960 to 2010. The embeded links get you to the closest part of the database. Then push “get table.”

I have obtained 2011 data from other sites and added it to the charts.

U.S. murder rate

Here is the chart of the U.S. murder rate per 100,000 population; 2011 number from here:

Murder Rate, U.S., 1960-2011

It clearly shows a sharp decline in the murder rate over the past two decades. Criminologists and demographers have several explanations. Probably the best is that most crimes, especially murders, are committed by young men between the ages of 15 and 30. Because of the Baby Boom that began in 1946 and ended in 1965, the birth rate doubled. When the Boomers entered the 14-30 age group in the early 1960s, the murder-rate doubled.

Later, the Boomers themselves had children at a much lower rate. So when their kids grew up, proportionally there were fewer of them; the population was aging. So crime rates fell.

The past 20 years also saw the passage of more flexible “conceal carry” gun laws in most states, although not California. Here, concealed weapons permits are granted mainly by county sheriffs. In rural areas, the sheriffs grant them fairly easily. In urban areas, including even supposedly “conservative” Orange County, the sheriffs are stingy.

Another factor credited for the crime drop of recent years has been cell phones. A person being stalked by a criminal can call for help immediately, instead of looking for a pay phone.

The increased abortion rate also has been used as a reason why murders and other crime dropped, but that theory was debunked by John Lott and others. Abortion was legalized in 1968 in California and New York, then our two largest states; and nationally in 1973 with the Roe vs. Wade decision. Adding 15 years, the years the aborted potential criminals would have been absent from the scene should have begun in 1983-88, so murders should have dropped. Instead, as the chart shows, murders surged as part of the crack cocaine epidemic.

California murder rate

Let’s now look at a chart of the California murder rate; the 2011 number is from here. It also has dropped sharply in the past two decades.

California’s passage of a three-strikes law 20 years ago was credited with a drop in crime, including murders. But in that period, crime dropped in states without three-strikes laws.

Murder rate, California, 1960-2011

Connecticut murder rate

Let’s now consider Connecticut, the site of the horrible murders. Its murder rate also has dropped sharply in the past two decades; 2011 number from here.

Murder rate, Connecticut, 1960-2011

There has been a slight increase in the last couple of years, to 3.6 per 100,000 people. But that rate still is below the rate in California and the nation as a whole.

I won’t put up another chart, but for 2012 New York City is projected to record its lowest murder rate ever. This has occurred despite — or because of — the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia vs. Heller, which threw out restrictive gun laws in such major cities as D.C., New York City and Chicago, all of which since have seen drops in murder and other crime rates.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been calling for strict gun control. And he has credited the murder drop to better police work. But the real reason murders have dropped is that more New Yorkers now are armed and can defend themselves. Potential killers no longer enjoy attacking universally unarmed victims.

Getting all the data

The point is that national tragedies such as the Newtown shootings should not be used to override rational analysis of what’s really going on.

In a similar fashion, when a plane crashes and kills hundreds of people, it gets international news coverage for weeks. But a local car accident will get a small mention in the local newspaper. Yet air travel remains far safer than travel by car.

The TV news shows and national newspapers have been using the Newtown tragedy to scare people into accepting radical new gun control measures. But I’ll bet few of our readers here have seen the above statistics on the general decline in murders, even though the data can be easily obtained and analyzed. I just plugged the numbers into the free online chart program, ChartGo.com.

This has occurred even as the number of guns in America now exceeds the number of people.

As the late Paul Harvey liked to say: That’s the rest of the story.

32 comments

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  1. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 29 December, 2012, 07:47

    True enough JS–

    Though not directly related to the gun control topic at hand—-

    Every idiot soccer mom I come in contact with behind the Orange Curtain is positively CERTAIN crime is rampant….and especially when it comes to child molestation and similar crimes. If I had a nickel for every time one of these airheads uttered “….things are different now….” as she drives her kids to school, rather then letting them walk or bike……..

    For that we have cable TV and the internet to blame as much as anything, I suppose. Crimes halfway across the country that most would never have heard about are now fodder for Nancy Grace. And to be honest, some crimes, especially involving children, are being reported more truthfully now than in the past, when they may have been swept under the rug and glossed over Penn State-style.

    Reply this comment
  2. Hondo
    Hondo 29 December, 2012, 08:35

    I don’t think we need a perspective at all. I am outraged beyond belief that we set up these killing zones for mass murderers at our nations schools.
    Parents should home school their kids till armed guards are at every school in America.
    I don’t care what the murder rate is, it is still way too dam high.
    The liberals have set up these killing zones across amerika where law abiding americans are without any means to defend themselves. In San Berdoo the democratic city attorney told people to lock their doors and get their guns because the city can’t afford to protect them.
    The reason I left the demoncratic party is because I refuse to take part in the genocide of black men that the welfare states policies have inflicted on those people. Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore, among other dem run cities, are slaughter houses for blacks and its the policies of the dems that did. Hundreds of school age kids in Chicago have been murdered this last year and if you try to talk about it you are considered a raciest. I believe the people who call you a raciest for bringing up the slaughter in Chicago, are part of the on going genocide of young black men there. I can’t think of any other reason.
    Take your kids out of those state sponsored killing zones that are our public schools and home school them.
    Hondo…….

    Reply this comment
  3. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 29 December, 2012, 09:53

    You don’t se mass murder by dynamite or bazooka in the US because those items are controlled or not lawful to obtain. There is no good reason big cap clips and assault weapons are legal….We are possibly the most stupid country on the planet….the killing will continue and frankly we don’t care.

    Reply this comment
  4. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 29 December, 2012, 09:56

    There is no “one reason” for our love of violence and murder. It is “overdetermined”. Typically though, a stupid people will burn out their efforts looking for “the” reason we have a killing field in our malls, public spaces, schools, transport etc etc. When we don’t find, “the ” reason, we move on to the next item de jour….

    Reply this comment
  5. BobA
    BobA 29 December, 2012, 10:15

    Ted:

    I own many guns with big clips and I never committed a crime in my life. I own them because I want them. Why should I not have the right to those weapons? Because you say so? Your freedom ends at the tip of my nose.

    Reply this comment
  6. Donkey
    Donkey 29 December, 2012, 14:30

    Ted, I do see you as RAGWUS feeder, only believing in purpose in your life, the control of all things in a citizens life.

    The reason you don’t have tnt, C4, or other combustables used for mass destruction in America not for the reason you surmise, because this happens all over the middle east and everything is illegal to own.

    With the exception of Oklahoma City and the first twin tower blast, most Americans have no interest in killing other citizens. That is why methods you declare are seldom used.

    You seek to enslave free Americans with your fear mongering, well read and informed Americans can see past your feigned cowardice (let the state protect you) propaganda. Where was the state when the kids and teachers at Sandy Hook needed help? Yea, that’s right coward, nowhere to be found!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  7. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 29 December, 2012, 17:20

    Poor Duncey says–
    ” …most Americans have no interest in killing other citizens. That is why methods you declare are seldom used.”

    Duncey—OPf course most Americans do not kill—-But if mass shooters in this Country could get these things, they’d use them. Thanks for playing. Always fun to spin you and BobA up!

    BobA— Was it Jefferson, Adams, Gerry, Madison or who? That wanted to you to have the fun war toys you have? Hi cap mags? Please send money to your NRA and tea bag masters at once!

    Reply this comment
  8. BobA
    BobA 29 December, 2012, 18:38

    Ted:

    The only reason libtards like you want to disarm people is because you and your ilk fear what will happen to you when enough people have had enough of socialism.

    By the way Ted: I granted myself the right to buy Hi-capacity ammo clips. I also want a dozen nukes, 5 stealth fighters, 2 M-1 Abrams tanks and a trident submarine for my “personal protection”. Do you know where I can buy a cheap UFO equipped with gamma ray blasters and capable of superluminal speeds?

    Reply this comment
  9. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 29 December, 2012, 20:34

    BobA– The UFO you want is in area 51. Or possibly in Roswell. You know, where the guvment is hiding the alien bodies….

    Reply this comment
  10. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 December, 2012, 21:13

    Teddy, the only “alien body” is that pea passing as your brain 😉

    Reply this comment
  11. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 29 December, 2012, 21:51

    0 for 15 ™!

    hmmmmm

    I guess we’ll see, huh?

    Reply this comment
  12. BobA
    BobA 30 December, 2012, 07:51

    Ted:

    I specifically asked you because aren’t you an alien from Uranus? Your secret is safe with me.

    Reply this comment
  13. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 December, 2012, 09:12

    Ted:

    I specifically asked you because aren’t you an alien from Uranus?
    ==

    LOL….Teddy just got owned!

    Reply this comment
  14. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 30 December, 2012, 14:22

    I just got “owned”? With a 7th grade Uranus quip? Are you guys children?

    Please try harder.

    0 for 15 ™! soon!

    Reply this comment
  15. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 December, 2012, 16:01

    I just got “owned”? With a 7th grade Uranus quip? Are you guys children?
    ==
    BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Still spinnning you like a top 😉

    Reply this comment
  16. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 30 December, 2012, 16:12

    LOL—– Hey Poodle—- should you let the grownups have their blog back yet?

    Reply this comment
  17. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 December, 2012, 20:57

    Hey Teddy, when you going to stop spamming the board????

    Reply this comment
  18. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 31 December, 2012, 06:40

    LOL I guess Poodle’s not ready yet!

    0 for 15 ™ ! soon?

    Reply this comment
  19. BobA
    BobA 31 December, 2012, 07:35

    Ted:

    Lucky you. I could have said you’re an alien from a planet orbiting VY Canis Majoris (a hyper-giant in the Canis Major constellation). It’s the largest known star in the observable universe (approx. 1400 x the diameter of our sun).

    Reply this comment
  20. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 31 December, 2012, 08:19

    Teddy- the PROLIFIC SPAMMER from VY Canis Majoris..I live inside his head so much he pays hommage to me on every post! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  21. BobA
    BobA 31 December, 2012, 08:28

    Careful Rex. There’s a large “quantum singularity” in the center of Teddy’s head that’s akin to a roach motel. You can check in but you can’t check out!!

    Reply this comment
  22. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 31 December, 2012, 10:13

    They can’t stop thinking about me!

    Reply this comment
  23. BobA
    BobA 31 December, 2012, 13:11

    Ted:

    You have a interesting way of drawing attention to yourself without saying anything that exhibits an intellect. Ever thought of a career in TV journalism? You’d be perfect for the job.

    Reply this comment
  24. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 31 December, 2012, 13:42

    You’re not so swift yourself little buddy!

    Sorry.

    Reply this comment
  25. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 31 December, 2012, 17:02

    Careful Rex. There’s a large “quantum singularity” in the center of Teddy’s head that’s akin to a roach motel. You can check in but you can’t check out!!

    Teddy Steals pea brain IS a ROACH MOTEL, but I like taking up occupancy there 😉

    Reply this comment
  26. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 31 December, 2012, 20:44

    I owe HUGE rent to the tiny french poodle!

    OCD– he can’t stop!

    Reply this comment
  27. BobA
    BobA 31 December, 2012, 23:09

    Teddy:

    You fixation on tiny dogs is revealing. I hope it’s just a platonic relationship and nothing more. Your incessant use of the term “little buddy” is suggestive of something a little, shall we say “twisted”?

    Reply this comment
  28. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 1 January, 2013, 00:39

    Teddy:

    You fixation on tiny dogs is revealing.
    ==
    Hahahhahaha..teddy is so consumed by my superior intellect he goes crazy with the copy and paste 😉

    Reply this comment
  29. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 1 January, 2013, 10:59

    Good Job little buddies! Still thinking about me and not the subject of gun rights!!

    Hurry post NOW slave trolls!

    Hurry!!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  30. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 1 January, 2013, 14:29

    Type lil one..tyoe NOW 🙂

    Reply this comment
  31. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 1 January, 2013, 17:10

    Good Job Poodle!!!!

    0 for 14 ™!

    Reply this comment
  32. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 1 January, 2013, 18:54

    Type now troll, I OWN you 😉

    Reply this comment

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