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Make America Safe, Again?

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?



  1. ebdoug wrote:

    This is one of those “what cha ma call its” It is coded language for the white male. No where does it say for “all Americans”

    When a man doing his job lies on the pavement with his hands in the air and gets shot, then handcuffed to lie there for 20 minutes until help arrives, “safe” is for one color skin only. “Why did you shoot me?” “i don’t know,” replies the cop

    Friday, July 22, 2016 at 3:27 am | Permalink
  2. Ralph wrote:

    More guns, and many more per capita, than ever before. More media outlets shamelessly competing for the same eyeballs, plus the exponential growth of shoot-from-the-hip social media, than ever before. More “free speech” anonymous money in politics than ever before. Yet feeling less secure, less satisfied and more politically and racially divided than anytime in recent history. Coincidence?

    If knowledge is power, fragmented knowledge is the power to fragment. IOW, a little knowledge can be dangerous. Especially with so damn many guns.

    Friday, July 22, 2016 at 6:17 am | Permalink
  3. Wildwood wrote:

    I have friends who have decided to not go into St. Louis anymore for lunch. There is crime, but it’s very subject to certain neighborhoods. There are vast areas where crime is rare. But those supposedly smart, die hard Pubs are fearful. They know where to avoid and when, but they’ve allowed fear to cloud their minds. If enough of us give into that fear the city will die and end up being a wild and terrible place, so I guess we are going to be eating in the city more often in the hope that it might make a small difference.

    Friday, July 22, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink
  4. PatriotSGT wrote:

    So I am trying to understand these “facts” and arguments. Regularly, this site and its contributers say or repeat the media that gun violence and gun ownership is on the rise, at an all time high, out of control. Even the President and his politians and Hillary say its a problem and we need more gun control.
    Yet the statistics quoted here suggest a direct correlation in the decrease of murders with and increase in gun ownership.
    So are the statistics wrong, or is it time to support gun rights?

    Friday, July 22, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    PSgt, I support gun rights and the second amendment. But that doesn’t mean that I want terrorists or hate groups to be able to get weapons of war on demand, or people with a history of mental instability get any gun at all.

    There have to be limits. Otherwise, wouldn’t the “right to bear arms” include nuclear arms? I don’t hear anyone supporting the right of Americans to own nuclear weapons, or even regular bombs.

    Bottom line is, we have a problem with mass shootings, despite the fact that crime in general is going down. We should do something about it. See

    Are you just pretending to not understand? Isn’t it common sense that we should have background checks on people when they buy guns, just like people who want to drive have their accident record reviewed and even have to pass a test showing that they know how to drive? Why not a background check, and a test so that we know that people know how to use their new gun, how to store it, etc.? I thought you were for this.

    I also can’t believe that the NRA got research into gun use and safety banned. We weren’t even allowed to look into making guns safer. That’s insane.

    Friday, July 22, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink
  6. Ralph wrote:

    Patriot – the scenario you hypothesized in your comment a few days ago (“Gun Rights or Gun Whites?”, IK 7/18 post) is, I would wager, not most people’s idea of a modern, enlightened society. It sounds more like the wild west we left behind a couple hundred years or so ago, or at least have tried to in most places. Feeling obliged to pack heat whenever I step outside (or even stay home) is not my definition of true freedom. It sounds more like a collection of free agents who have lost faith in its institutions and police force “to serve and protect” and have retreated to their bunkers, separated by fear, paranoia, and a curtain of lead. No thanks! Even back in the day, visitors to old Dodge City and other civilized outposts of the day would have to check their firearms with the Sheriff while in town. You know, to keep the peace. But the Second Amendment had a very different interpretation than it does today. I invite you to check out the history of the Second, as interpreted by various Supreme Court rulings.

    This issue did not even exist when I was a kid in the 60s, but I take your point, to the extent of the present reality on the ground. The bad guys often now have bigger guns than the police, ergo the arms race and the militarization of urban and even small town police forces who, understandably, are feeling defensive and on a hair trigger, given recent events. Background checks are often spurious or non-existent, whether at gun shows, in parking lots or on the black market. 3D printing technology of guns is becoming better and more common, and it seems the regulatory train has pretty much left the station.

    So it’s no surprise some may feel naked and defenseless without a piece at their side or under the pillow (or both). The NRA has done its job well. I guess they won’t consider their mission truly accomplished until we see fit to disband all police forces nationwide as unnecessary because every man, woman and child will have enough guns to “protect” ourselves from each other. Let Freedom rip!

    Friday, July 22, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink