In light of the publicized mass shootings, pundits and politicians are calling for action. Certainly, there are some policies that should be considered. However, these policies need to be informed by accurate numbers and statistics. Unfortunately, most Americans believe many things about gun violence that aren’t true.
One article that appeared in the Washington Post earlier this year warned that “Most Americans incorrectly think gun-murder rates have gotten worse, not better.” Also, suburban and small-town women had the least accurate views about the murder rate. Some believe this demographic group will be swing voters in the 2020 election. In case you are wondering, the murder rate between 1995 and 2017 dropped by almost half.
It is easy to understand why people might not know this since every time there is a shooting, we are subjected to wall-to-wall coverage. Of course, that is not always true. In the days leading up to the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, there were 60 shootings in Chicago. There were so many in fact, that one hospital had to stop accepting patients on Sunday because the trauma center was maxed out.
Gun violence isn’t uniform. Most firearm murders are concentrated in a few areas. Over half of all murders occur in just 2 percent of the nation’s 3,142 counties. And a high percentage of those murders are linked to gang or drug activity.
Also, a high percentage of gun deaths are due to suicides. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year publish data on gun deaths. In any year you pick, gun suicides outnumber gun homicides, sometimes by as much as two-to-one.
There will be a major push this year to change current policies in an effort to stem gun violence. As we are debating these issues, it is crucial the pundits, politicians, and even voters have an accurate understanding of the statistics associated with gun violence.