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Archive for Thursday, October 19, 2000

U.S. murder rate still high

October 19, 2000

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— We are going to inundate with figures today. We are doing so because statistics especially crime statistics best illustrate a primary societal difference between the United States and the rest of the industrialized world.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation released a report dated Oct. 15, 2000, reporting that serious crime in the United States had decreased 7 percent from 1998 and 16 percent from 1995. It is the eighth consecutive year in which crime has decreased. The number of murders in 1999 was estimated to be 15,533, an 8 percent decrease from 1998 and 28 percent decrease from 1995. Moreover, "the recorded rate of 6 [murders] per 100,000 inhabitants was the lowest figure since 1996," according to the report. However, the report also showed that cities with populations of more than 1 million residents showed the lowest rate of decline in murders down from 13.5 to 13.0 murders per 100,000 people. New York, the largest city, showed an increase in murders for last year, from 633 to 671 murders.

"Bear in mind that the U.S. rate that we are so pleased about is 6 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. The question is why is the rate four to six times greater than our civilized trading partners' rates?"

According to James Alan Fox, a professor at Northeastern University, "The big cities were the first to go up in the 1980s, the first to come down in the 1990s. Now the lowest murder rate declines suggest they'll be the first to stabilize. Murders and crime can't go down forever." For the Los Angeles-Long Beach region, there were 9.5 murders per 100,000 residents. The murder rate for Las Vegas was 9.8 per 100,000. New York's murder rate was 7.9 per 100,000. New Orleans had a murder rate of 16 per 100,000.

Comparing the homicide rate of the United States with those of other nations, one finds that the United States still has a much higher murder rate than the world average. The homicide rate in Canada for 1998 was 1.8 per 100,000. Canada has generally seen a decrease in murders since 1976. France's murder rate in 1994 was 1.12 per 100,000. Japan's was 0.62 per 100,000 in 1994. Great Britain had a murder rate of 1.41 per 100,000 in 1992. And Germany's was 1.17 per 100,000 for 1994.

Bear in mind that the U.S. rate that we are so pleased about is 6 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. The question is why is the rate four to six times greater than our civilized trading partners' rates? For more than a decade we have begged for the placement of more police on the street, and not until the Clinton administration took office did this actually happen to a significant degree. But we need more police out there. After all, the first duty of government is to provide for the public safety.

We have also called for a national police academy a West Point for police to create a highly motivated, highly trained cadre for our nation's police.

We have advocated the licensing of firearms, but the National Rifle Assn. has thwarted this by talking people into believing that advocates of licensing want to take away their members' guns. Hogwash. We have advocated increasing expenditures to clean up the nations' slums that act as breeding grounds for criminals.

These and other recommendations will undoubtedly one day come to pass, and future generations will look back upon on us and wonder what took us so long.

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