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. That’s a 39 percent reduction for the math challenged like well you know.
The Pew Research Center found a similar decline int the rate of gun homicides, which compares the number of killings to the size of the country’s population. Pew found that the number of gun homicides per 100,000 people fell from 7 in 1993 to 3.6 in 2010, a drop of 49 percent.
Because of the intense publicity generated by recent high profile shootings such as the 20 school children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, the public seems to have not noticed the reductions in gun violence, the Pew study states.
The non-partisan groups said a poll it conducted in March showed that 56 percent of people believe the number of gun crimes is higher than it was two decades ago. Only 12 percent said they think the number of gun crimes is lower, while the rest surveyed think it remained the same or no opinion voiced.
The Pew and the Justice reports also found that non-fatal crimes involving guns were down by roughly 70 percent over that period. The Justice report said the number of such crimes diminished from 1.5 million in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.
The research data was released three weeks after the Senate rejected an effort by gun control supporters to broaden the requirement for federal background checks for more firearms purchases. Senate Democratic leaders have pledged to hold that vote again, and gun control advocates have been raising public pressure on senators who voted no.
Many Senators and pro constitutional groups say the gun control groups have emphasized the wrong approach to controlling firearms violence.
One Senator, Thune, said lawmakers should aim instead at preventing future mass killings by improving mental health programs and increasing the records that state governments send the federal background check system so the checks can do a better job of keeping guns from people who shouldn’t have them.
Gun control supporters said the numbers have declined but remain too high, with U.S. rates of gun killings remaining far greater than most other nations.
The Justice study said that in 2011, about 70 percent of all homicides were committed with firearms.
The trend in firearm-related homicides is part of a broad nationwide decline in violent crime over past two decades, including incidents not involving firearms.
Researchers differ over all the reasons why gun violence has declined, many attribute it to the aging of the baby boomers. 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.
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, analysts say.
The Pew report also said the gun suicide rate is 6.3 per 100,000 people, and there were 19,392 suicides by firearms in 2010. That rate has declined more slowly than the firearms homicide rate, with 6 in 10 gun deaths now suicides, the highest proportion since at least 1981.
The Pew study mainly utilized federal data from the Centers for Disease Control, and the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey, a household survey conducted by the Census Bureau.