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Picture of a Panic: Fear of Crime and Actual Crime

The Gallup Poll does a great job of juxtaposing two trends. On the one hand, we have Americans who are consistently convinced each year that crime has worsened compared to the year before:

Gallup poll question: Is there more crime in the U.S. than a year ago, or less?

And on the other hand, we have actual crime report data from the Department of Justice, which shows that violent crime has been falling year after year:

Uniform Crime Report Data shows Violent Crime Fall

The property crime rate is falling too, by the way.

We’re safe.
We’re panicking.
Cut it out.

1 comment to Picture of a Panic: Fear of Crime and Actual Crime

  • manning120

    This has to be looked at together with the gun control controversy that seems to rage on despite dropping crime rates. My impression is that gun violence is not going down in tandem with the violent crime rate. The NRA and its supporters seem to think wide availability of firearms, with the loose controls in effect thanks to NRA lobbying, suppresses crime generally, and violent crime in particular, by causing potential criminals to obey the law out of fear that their intended victims might shoot them or otherwise stop them with firearms. Of course, the NRA doesn’t rest its case for expanded 2nd Amendment rights solely on the declining crime rate, but the decline definitely fuels the NRA’s thinking.

    I say we should analogize this to the decline in airline accidents. No one would argue that we can relax control of the airline industry because the accident rate is going down. Each accident brings on new studies, regulations, and laws to prevent more accidents. The same ought to be true with respect to gun control.

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