Ryan McMaken over at Mises.org brought to light a Pew Research Center report that found that the murder rate in the U.S. has been cut in half over the past 20 years or so from 7 per 100,000 to 3.6 per 100,000, in spite of widespread proliferation of guns. The gun death rate has already dropped over the same time period, though not as drastically. In 1993, it was about 15.2 per 100,000. Twenty years later in 2013, it was down to 10.6.
Despite these numbers, a majority of poll respondents thought that the crime rate had gone up:
Despite the attention to gun violence in recent months, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is markedly lower than it was two decades ago. A new Pew Research Center survey (March 14-17) found that 56% of Americans believe the number of crimes involving a gun is higher than it was 20 years ago; only 12% say it is lower and 26% say it stayed the same. (An additional 6% did not know or did not answer.)
Men (46%) are less likely than women (65%) to say long-term gun crime is up. Young adults, ages 18 to 29, are markedly less likely than other adults to say long-term crime is up—44% do, compared with more than half of other adults. Minority adults are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to say that long-term gun crime is up, 62% compared with 53%.
These people must watch too much TV. You can blame shows that either glorify and romanticize violence, or make it look like it’s more prevalent than it really is, such as in crime dramas.
But even more than that, the news media love to fixate on violent crimes, particularly mass murders, simply because they’re shocking. They know that their viewers will be hooked to the tube if they sensationalize a mass murder. They do it for the ratings, which translate into more ad revenue.
People are so hoodwinked by the media that they don’t realize that the truth is that violent crime is down drastically, and gun ownership is up drastically. People’s perceptions are at stark odds with reality.