The rate of gun-related murders has dropped by almost half in the U.S. since the early 1990s, even though more than eight of 10 Americans say otherwise, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
The report, released amid a nationwide debate over whether to enact new measures to curb firearms violence, shows that gun- related killings peaked in 1993 at seven deaths per 100,000 Americans before descending rapidly to 3.8 deaths per 100,000 by 2000. By 2010, Pew found, the rate had fallen to 3.6 deaths per 100,000 people.
Yet a majority of Americans, 56 percent, say gun crime is higher than it was in 1993, while 26 percent say it’s the same, according to the survey by the Washington-based group. Just 12 percent told Pew the rate was lower.
“Despite national attention to the issue of firearm violence, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is lower today than it was two decades ago,” the study said.
The mass shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school in December boosted support for gun-control legislation, according to another Pew poll, taken in January. Legislation supported by the White House that would have tightened background checks for gun purchases was defeated in the U.S. Senate last month; Democrats are trying to revive the measure.
The biggest drop in gun violence occurred during the 1990s after starting to rise in the 1960s. The poll, taken from March 14-17, has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.
To contact the reporters on this story: Frank Bass in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;