“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.