Newtown, the Navy Yard, and Record Low Murder Rates

The murder rate in New York City fell again, and quite precipitously. In 2013 there were approximately 333 homicides in NYC, down from 419 in 2012. That’s a 20% drop! Homicide rates also dropped significantly in other big US cities, including LA, where homicide rates dropped about 13% in 2013. This is the lowest rate in Los Angeles since 1966. Murders were up in DC in 2013, after five straight years of falling. I would guess that this reflects a regression toward the mean and not a trend, but time will tell.

While some folks are aware of the general decrease of homicide in the US, every American knows about Newtown. After Newtown, I wore one of those rubber bracelets in honor of the children and teachers slain at Sandy Hook Elementary. Everyone was disgusted by Newtown, and then the Navy Yard shootings happened here in Washington in 2013. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that I see and hear more about “the scourge of gun violence” than I do about the very positive trends that point to our country being less violent.

That said, I am glad that there is outrage about school shootings and little complacency despite falling homicide rates. Nonetheless, the disconnect between perception and reality is a problem. Shouldn’t there be more coverage about the strides we’ve been making against violent crime? Do you sense that the US is a safer place, or do you feel less and less safe in the wake of mass murders that are relentlessly covered in the media?

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