Is violent crime rising?

Experts said these increases buttress reports from the FBI and many mayors and police chiefs that violent crime is beginning to rise after a long decline. . . .

This report tells us more the serious events — robbery and gun crimes — increased and the FBI already told us homicides increased," said criminal justice professor James Alan Fox of Northeastern University. . . .

Professor Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University said the rise in gun violence was particularly troubling.

"A major police effort to confiscate guns helped bring down the surge in violent crime that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s," Blumstein said. "But gun distribution is easier now because we have begun to back off gun control."

Backed by the National Rifle Association, the Bush administration has been cool toward gun control measures.

The statistics bureau's victimization report found that the overall violent crime rate was unchanged in 2005 from the year before, at just over 21 crimes for every 1,000 individuals over age 12. . . .

1) Does one year make a trend? Could be, but it is really hard to see any pattern in robbery rates over the last five years. The same is true for gun crimes. Because of the comparisons drawn in the piece regarding the Clinton administration, I have put down some numbers for violent crime. Just so that you can see that since the last full year of Clinton's administration, the violent crime rate has fallen by 23 percent (15 percent since 2001). Since so much weight is put on robbery, it has fallen by 19 percent since the end of Clinton (7 percent since 2001, though again I think that it is hard to see any pattern since 2001).

Robbery Rate
1985 5.1
1990 5.7
1995 5.4
1998 4.0
1999 3.6
2000 3.2
2001 2.8
2002 2.2
2003 2.5
2004 2.1
2005 2.6

How does one use the violent crime numbers reported to justify the statement that experts believe that "violent crime is beginning to rise after a long decline"?

Violent Crime Rate
1985 45.2
1990 44.1
1995 46
1998 35.9
1999 32
2000 27.3
2001 24.6
2002 22.7
2003 22.2
2004 21
2005 20.9

2) Despite all their claim that people are being harmed more because of the increase in robbery rates last year, the share of robberies involving injury has actually fallen. Going from 56.3 percent in 2004 to 49.6 percent in 2005 and the longer term decline is even greater.

3) It would be nice if the AP provided even a little balance in academics who it interviewed.


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