Shootings have been getting a lot of attention over the last few years. This year the number of nationally reported shootings seems to be more than I can remember in the past. I have no proof of that, but its how I perceive it. Meanwhile, politicians try to tell us what is wrong and what should be done to fix it. Main stream media has also been making a big deal of shootings and telling us what should be done about it. The message I’m getting from the people making the most noise is that there are more shootings and we should do something about allowing people to have or get guns. Assault rifles and high capacity magazine are often demonized as well. Seeing as how I don’t trust a politician and the F.U.D. spreading US news media has long since lost any idea of objective news reporting, I decided to look up some information about people being killed in the United States. All of my data has come from the FBI’s website: https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/crimestats
I gathered data from that site to the best of my abilities. I used the data to create a Google Docs spreadsheet which I used to create some charts to help visualize the information. This data is free to anyone who takes the time to look at it. If errors were made in my data entry, please make me aware of it and I will correct it. I believe a lot of the data speaks for itself. I’m not a statistician, but I think some of the simple things that I learned from looking at the data are correct.
The first chart shows the rate of the number of violent crimes committed in the USA per year. It clearly shows a trend of declining violent crimes.
Annual number of violent crimes in the USA
This next chart shows the annual number of murders caused by all firearms. From what this shows, there were more firearm caused murders in the early 1990’s than there have been in the last few years. If you ever hear someone telling you that there are more people being killed by guns now, this data shows otherwise.
Annual firearm caused murders
After looking at that, it got me to thinking. The rate of number of murders per year is not a completely meaningful trend. I felt that population was a relevant statistic for how many people are being killed by firearms. So I took the US population data found on the FBI website and used that to show how relevant the number of murders per year were compared with population growth. My thinking was if the population rate were changing, this could affect the murder rate. To make the numbers more relevant I took the population and divided it by 100,000 people so we could see how many people per 100,00 were being killed. According to the data, despite a population increase, there is a firearm murder rate decrease. This says that while nearly 6 in 100,000 Americans were being killed with firearms in 1992, in 2014 that had dropped to about 2.5 in 100,000 Americans being killed with firearms. This makes a case that people getting shot and killed with guns is happening less often than it used to. Are things getting better?
Firearm murders per 100,000 US population
Now that I can see that people getting killed with firearms is not getting worse, I thought it would be interesting to see by what method people are getting killed. The pie chart below breaks out the type of weapon used to kill people. Clearly, murders by use of handguns are the most frequent. Surprisingly, evil assault rifles is at the bottom of the list which is below knives, personal weapons (fists, arms, legs, feet), blunt objects (such as baseball bats), and shotguns.
Cause of murders by percent 1992-2014
I hope this allows you to see some of the data that is out there so you can decide what the urgency might be about people being killed by firearms.
I believe we are just getting the usual F.U.D. (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) from politicians and news outlets. Bad people using guns to kill people is not something that is getting worse. Clearly, assault rifles with high capacity magazines are not the most urgent item in need of legislation. Statistics show that violent crime is becoming less common. I believe that the main cause for concern is the devaluing of human life among people. I don’t know how you put a statistic to that, and I certainly don’t know how you legislate morality. Just because a talking head on TV, radio, or your favorite website claim one thing, does not always mean it is the truth.
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