The theme of the first night of the Republican national convention was “Make America Safe Again”. As Rudy Giuliani put it:
The vast majority of Americans today do not feel safe. They fear for their children, they fear for themselves. They fear for our police officers, who are being targeted with a target on their back. It’s time to make America safe again.
So if we are going to make America safe again, when was it safe before? Giuliani answered that question by saying that Donald Trump “will make America, like the president I worked for, Ronald Reagan, once again be the shining City on the Hill.”
There’s just one problem. America is far safer now (under Barack Obama) than it ever was under Ronald Reagan. When Reagan was president, there were an average of 20,377 murders a year. The most recent year for which the FBI has records is 2014, when there were 14,249 murders. That’s a drop of 30%, and it doesn’t even account for the fact that the US population has grown by 35%. The per capita murder rate has dropped from 89 people per million, to 46 people per million. That’s right, we are about half as likely to be murdered now as when Reagan was president. This might be explained by the new car gun safe laws and new accessibly laws, but for now, it will be hard to tell without more data.
During the Reagan administration an average of 101 police officers were intentionally killed every year. Under Obama, that number dropped to 62, the lowest number ever recorded.
And there has never been a safer time to be a child in America.
The national crime rate peaked in 1991 (when George H. W. Bush was president) and has been declining ever since. It is currently around half what it was at its peak. Violent crime (the definition of what should make us feel unsafe) has fallen by 51%.
But Giuliani is right, Americans don’t feel safe. 70% of Americans think the crime rate is increasing — and that percentage has been going up — even though they are safer now than they have ever been.
Could it be because of fear mongers like Giuliani and Donald Trump?
Also published on Medium.