This week, the FBI estimated that the number of violent crimes decreased 5.5 percent from 2009 to 2010, including a 4.4 percent decrease in the number of murders. Because the U.S. population increased during the period, the figures imply that the total violent crime per capita rate and the murder rate decreased more than six percent and five percent, respectively. Based upon the preliminary data, it appears that violent crime fell to a 37-year low and murder fell to a 47-year low. The FBI will report final figures for 2010 later this year. We’re repeating ourselves, but, as has been the case for quite a while, the decrease in crime coincided with an increase in the number of privately owned guns—particularly handguns and detachable magazine semi-automatic rifles. For example, Americans bought over 400,000 AR-15s in 2009, and trends in AR-15 sales over the last few years suggest a similar number for 2010.
Those who have followed the gun control issue for a few years probably have noticed that with crime declining and gun numbers rising year after year, gun control groups have all but abandoned their previously perennial claims that more guns equal more crime. Even their friends in the news media don’t believe it anymore.