A report released earlier this week by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) shows that firearm-related homicides have dropped 39 percent and nonfatal gun crimes have decreased by 69 percent from 1993 to 2011. Despite a popular misconception that gun crime has risen, the study now shows that crimes committed with a firearm have in fact been slashed. Ten years ago, 18,253 homicides were committed with a firearm, compared to the 11,101 fatalities in 2011. Similarly, non-lethal gun crimes have dropped from 1.5 million in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.
The Pew Research Center also released their report on the decrease of gun crime in America, including survey which found that many Americans believe that gun violence has increased significantly. According to the Pew survey, 56 percent of Americans believe that gun crime is higher than two decades ago while only 12 percent believe it has lowered. The cause for this misconception may be attributed to a number of mass shootings in recent years, including the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut.
The Pew survey showed that the gun debate that followed the Newtown shooting received significant public attention, and reducing gun crime has became a major priority for lawmakers. Otherwise, media has begun to shy away from crime stories, with news broadcasts dedicating only 17 percent of their total airing time to crime in 2012, compared to 29 percent in 2006.
Researchers have many theories about what led to the decrease in gun crime, including sociological factors, stricter laws, and a general decrease in property crime worldwide. Some have even pointed to the decrease in lead exposure, which can cause violent and aggressive behavior.