After two years of generalized chaos, and an uptick in violent crime including murder rates, leading back to 2018, 2022 is on track to see a noticeable and welcome decline in murders for the first time in those 4 years. There are plenty of speculations as to why, though the waning effects of the Covid response are high on the list. Those who weren’t up in arms over police use of force were equally upset over state and federal institutions regulating daily life, and erosion of faith and trust in institutions is a seemingly relevant point in the discussion on why people were apparently more lawless on the balance after 2020.
Public announcements by police that they were unable or unwilling to pursue many non-violent crimes is another angle with some weight to it. Whatever the cause, (likely some combination of the above and more) the numbers paint a picture of a relatively large spike in violence, particularly murder rates, which rose above 6 per 100,000 residents for the first time since the late 1990’s. Still below the early 90’s peak of 9 per 100,000, it is a welcome sign that 2022 is so far on pace to see a decline. Much was made of the murder rate increase in the media, with many furiously drawing links between the phenomenon and the much more massive spike in gun sales.
2020 was a record-setting year for NICS (National Instant Check System) background checks for gun purchases at 21 million, and, one must assume, equally large spikes in person-to-person sales that do not require the crown’s permission, which was an easy target for gun control proponents. In a world where something as complicated as crime rates can be boiled down to a single factor, this makes some sense, but that world is not the one we live in. Illustrating this perfectly are the NICS stats for the following 2 years. Gun sales continue to spike with over 38 million in 2021, and 2022 is on track for a slightly lower 31 million amidst efforts to enact a new “assault weapons” ban. Seeing these trends occur concurrently with the ongoing drop in murder rates, puts paid to the simplistic concept that “more guns=more crime”.