Hurricanes batter the coast. An earthquake rocks our southern neighbor. North Korea rattles the saber. A psychopath kills 59 people and injures hundreds more at a country music festival. It’s easy to get lost in the bad news that sometimes hits too close to home.
So how about some good news? The violent crime rate in America remains historically low and is concentrated in just a few places.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “Violent crime still remains near the bottom of the nation’s 30-year downward trend.” There has been a slight increase in the murder rate in places like Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. but other cities and suburban and rural area rates remain stable.
Violent crime is concentrated in a few places. The Crime Prevention Research Center found that 68 percent of murders occurred in just 5 percent of US counties.
Why have crime rates decreased over the past quarter century? Nobody knows for sure. Research shows minor correlations between reduction in crime and economic activity. Even so, the crime hit a 40 year low in 2010 during the recession. Low alcohol consumption and more police on the beat also correlate to lower crime rates. Could there be other reasons? Higher rates of gun ownership among potential victims, for example. Possibly.
Unfortunately, a lot of Americans don’t know the good news. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center, over half of Americans thought crime was worse than it was in 2008. The data show that crime has gone down.
While it’s easy to watch the news and feel less safe, and politicians pushing more government in our lives may imply otherwise, Americans are safer than they were thirty years ago.
What are your thoughts?
If violent crime is actually dropping, how do we continue the trend? And do we have a right to self-defense, or should we let government keep us safe?