The FBI released the Preliminary Seminannual Uniform Crime Report for the first six months of 2013 on Tuesday. According to the statistics found in the report, all of the offenses in the violent crime category—including murder, forcible rape, assault, and robbery—showed a significant decrease in early 2013 from the same period in 2012. This drop in violent crime coincided with one of the largest booms for gun sales in recent history.
The FBI report was compiled with data submitted by 12,723 law enforcement agencies in the United States for the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Compared to 2012, the first half of 2013 was marked by an across-the-board decrease in crime. The numbers of murders in January to June 2013 decreased by 6.9 percent, forcible rapes declined by 10.6 percent, aggravated assaults declined by 6.6 percent, and robberies by 1.8 percent. Arson and property crime also plummeted in 2013.
The biggest decrease of crime occurred in small towns with fewer than 10,000 residents, which averaged a drop of 9.2 percent in violent crime. The largest population group—cities with more than one million residents—saw a drop of 4.7 percent in violent crime. Regionally, the largest drop in crime occurred in the Midwest with a 7.4 percent decrease, followed by 5.9 percent in the South, 4.3 percent in the Northeast, and 3.7 percent in the West.
The FBI report does not speculate on any causes for the drop of crime in early 2013, and admits that some data may be incomplete. Some gun rights advocates, however, point out the decrease in crime coincided with a surge in gun sales. In just the first five months of 2013, law enforcement agencies processed more than 10 million background checks. To put that in perspective, only 14.4 million background checks were processed in the whole of 2010. New gun owners also contributed to the sales boom, with the National Shooting Sports Foundation reporting in a survey that 25.8 percent of customers in late 2012 and early 2013 were first-time buyers. Overall, gun sales have been in an upswing in recent years, but experts point to recent gun control legislation for spurring on sales.
When Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a package of gun control bills into law last year, customers swarmed retailers ahead of the law’s effective date of October 1. State police had to hire a team of data entry personnel to keep up with the sudden flood of background checks and some sources reported more than 1,000 firearms being sold a day in the weeks leading up to October.
You can view the FBI report here.
Image courtesy the Federal Bureau of Investigation