Despite heightened media attention surrounding gun violence, two reports have actually confirmed that gun homicides have declined since the 1990s.
“A study released Tuesday by the government's Bureau of Justice Statistics found that gun-related homicides dropped from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011,” reports ABC 12. “That's a 39 percent reduction.”
A separate report, they say, conducted by the private Pew Research Center, found a similar decline. The rate of gun homicides, which compares the number of killings to the size of the country's population, finds that, per 100,000 people, the number of gun homicides has actually fallen since 1993 (7 for every 100,000 people, to only 3.6 in 2010). This, they say, is a drop of 49 percent.
Both reports also are telling of non-fatal crimes involving guns, which were also down over that period of time, though by an entire 70 percent.
Despite this glaring evidence, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll in March that shows quite a discrepancy between fact and public opinion. The majority (56 percent) of people, the survey determined, believe that the number of gun crimes is actually higher now than it was at its true peak in 1993. Only twelve percent of participants said they “think the number of gun crimes is lower.” The rest of the participants either stated that they believe the level of gun violence is the same, or that they didn’t know one way or the other.
And this data was released just three weeks after the US Senate “rejected an effort by gun control supporters to broaden the requirement for federal background checks for more firearms purchases,” says the Huffington Post. “Senate Democratic leaders have pledged to hold that vote again, perhaps by early summer, and gun control advocates have been raising public pressure on senators who voted ‘no’ in hopes they will change their minds.”
Apparently, researchers dispute over the reasons why gun violence has declined, though many attribute it to the changing age of those in the baby boomer generation. “The crime rate was higher in the 1960s and 1970s when many in that large generation were teenagers, an age when higher proportions of people commit crimes,” studies show. Accordingly, “crime rates dropped in the early 1980s as that generation aged, rose in the latter part of that decade as the use of crack cocaine grew, then dropped again in the 1990s as the nation's economy improved.”
One questions, then, if there is a correlation between rises and lulls in economic activity and the emergence of gun violence. Though our days of heightened gun homicides are seemingly a thing of the past, will a new, oppressed and rebellious generation have a similar reaction to that of their predecessors?