Crime Is Still at Historic Lows

Some are playing up news stories or writing editorials with clickbait headlines featuring violent crimes as a way to stoke fear in the minds of Americans to achieve political goals, but the fact is that you’re safer walking down the street today than the early 1970s.

Last week the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual Uniform Crime Report, which offered a look at crime in the United States in 2015. The data were gathered from state and local law enforcement agencies across the country. While the 2013 and 2014 reports showed that violent crime declined almost across the board, this year’s report shows that violent crime rates, including homicides, increased.

It won’t be long before the report is already being used as an excuse for why Congress should not pursue criminal justice reform this year, but this logic is incredibly short-sighted and looks past the bigger picture of what we know about crime in the United States.

Since the early 1990s, crime has been in rapid decline. An October 2015 report from the Pew Research Center noted that gun-related homicides, excluding suicides, decreased by nearly 49 percent between 1993 and 2014. The nonfatal firearm victimization rate also declined by roughly 75 percent over the same period.

Violent crime has not been at this low of a rate since the early 1970s, before the crack epidemic that began in the mid-1980s. Current property crime rates have not been this low since the mid-to-late 1960s.