“Since ’91, Americans have acquired over 170 million new firearms and violent crimes have declined by 51%,” the NRA recently tweeted, a comment that’s been repeated endlessly by conservative media. The problem with this idea: Most of the drop in violent crime came well before the recent spike in gun sales.
Gun sales only started taking off around 2005, with by far the highest spikes coming during the Obama years as gun manufacturers told gun collectors Obama was coming to steal their guns, so they better buy tons of them (so Obama could steal them? I’m not saying it makes sense):
But most of the drop in violent crime came before 2000. In fact, the biggest drop came during the mid-to-late-1990s, when gun sales were falling or flat:
And if you look at the rate of firearm homicide deaths, virtually all of the drop came before 2000 – again, well before the big spike in gun sales began:
While there are a range of ideas about the real cause of the drop in violent crime, cuts in brain-harming lead pollution remain the leading theory.
…I think the logic behind buy guns before Obama comes for them is premised on the idea that he would not actually try to seize already purchased guns, but would make it nearly impossible to purchase in the future so get them now while you still can.
For whatever reason, the fact remains that the timing of the peak in gun ownership and decline in violent crime is as described in the thread-starter.
The link to the article about lead pollution is particularly interesting. It uses a similar technique to show that that the infamous “broken windows” strategy of the NYCPD had little or nothing to do with the decline in violent crime in NYC. As it turns out, that decline began before the program began. Similar declines were also observed in cities across America that did NOT implement the program.
The most compelling association is, instead, with the climb and then decline of leaded gas in automobiles. As leaded gas use increased, violent crime increased. As leaded gas use decreased, violent crime decreased.
The NRA and GOP right wing continue to shout the same lies about guns and violent crime — in a “post-scientific” America, it is difficult to counter the combination of flagrant dishonesty and extreme wealth.
Check sociology and criminology textbooks of the 70s and 80s. Their prediction was the aging of America would change the rate of violent crime. Violent crime is a young person crime. Many outgrow the urge for violent actions or get maimed or killed in violent youth or come to the realization that there are better places to spend a life than in a cage.
This, being a political world, many credit the rise in gun sales, Prozak, police agencies, mayors, or prison programs for the drop in violent crime. (Anyone mention sunspots?) Actually, it was bound to happen.
The paraphrase JFK: Good news has a thousand fathers, bad news is orphaned.
…that gun violence tends to be a young person crime is that those involved get cut down themselves before they have a chance to grow older.
I wish you would pay more attention. Howlandlewnatick already said that . . .