Monday, November 21, 2005

2004 FBI Uniform Crime Report

Crime in the United States 2004 It's funny but I don't recall anything in the news about the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2004 being released. This could very well be my fault for not paying attention, but I became aware of it today and decided to have a look.

The statistics are from 2004 and were released by the FBI on October 17, 2005, but it seems the MSM only reported on it after the data was scrubbed by Quitno Press to produce a ranking of the most dangerous and safest cities. I guess I understand why this is. The full report is a 538 page Adobe PDF file. (The first link above is NOT to the PDF, but the FBI's main site for the report.) In addition to the PDF, which is available in sections on the main site, the tables are also available in spreadsheet format.

The news is generally good. Violent crime is down and the disturbing up-trend that began in 2000 seems to really have reversed itself.

Click on any of the diagrams below to see them full size.

As the Crime Clock shows, there is still much to be done to make our streets safer.
US Crime Clock 2004

Violent Crime:

Overall violent crime was down 2.2% from 2003 to a rate of 465.5 per 100,000 people. This is down from a high 758.2 per 100,000 people in 1991.
US Violent Crime Rate 2004

Murder and Nonnegligent Homicide

The rate of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter fell to 5.5 per 100,000 in 2004. This is down 3.3% from 2003, and down 0.8% from 2000. This is down from a high of 9.5 per 100,000 in 1993.

US Murder + Nonnegligent Manslaughter 2004

In the cases where supplemental data was available, the relationship between murderer and victim was unknown 44.1% of the time. Of the other 55.9% of cases - where relationships (if any) were known - 76.8% victims new their killers and 23.2% were killed by strangers.

The domestic violence component of murder was particularly chilling.
The 2004 data also revealed that 33.0 percent of female victims were killed by their husbands or boyfriends, and 2.7 percent of the male victims were slain by their wives or girlfriends. (Based on Tables 2.4 and 2.11.)
These statistics highlight why I believe women trying to get out of abusive relationships need to be armed, and furthermore they need to be armed everywhere they are on a known schedule: to-and-from work, picking-up and dropping-off kids at school or daycare, to-and-from religious services.

Justifiable homicides by a private citizen (as opposed to police) were down to 229 in 2004 from a high of 247 in 2003. Of those 229 justified killings, 170 or 74.2% were done using a firearm.

Forcible Rape

Rape is the one component of Violent Crime where the news is not so good. Although the rate of Forcible Rape is down 0.2% from 2003, it is still 0.6% higher than it was in 2000. The rate of 32.2 per 100,000 female inhabitants is down from a high of 42.8 per 100,000 female inhabitants in 1992.

US Forcible Rape Rate 2004
A word about "Forcible Rape." The FBI treats "statutory rape" as a non-violent crime unless the victim is very young, and men cannot be raped. If a man is attacked, that is counted under aggravated assault. (This is at least true for the Uniform Crime Report. The Victimization Survey - which is produced by a different methodology, the results of which cannot be compared to the UCR - tracks all of this differently. See the Bureau of Justice Statistics for more info. See especially the National Incident Based Reporting System, as NIBRS is the basis for the UCR.)

As this next chart shows, there was a surge in violent crime that began in 2000. This seems to have reversed itself overall, but the effects in rape can still be seen.

Rape - percent change since 2000

Robbery

The robbery rate was down 4.1% from 2003. The rate was 136.7 per 100,000 in 2004 down from 142.5 per 100,000 in 2003. This rate is 5.7 percent lower than the 2000 rate, and it is down off a high of 272.7 per 100,000 in 1991.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault accounts for 62.5% of all violent crime. The rate in 2004 was 291.1 per 100,000 down from 295.4 per 100,000 in 2003 for a decrease of 1.5%. This rate is 10.1% lower than the 2000 rate. The highest rate of Aggravated Assault was recorded in 1992 when the rate was 441.9 per 100,000.

US Aggravated Assault Rate 2004
Unfortunately the FBI does not track relationship data on Aggravated Assault the way they do on Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter, so it impossible from this report to draw any conclusions about domestic violence.

My Conclusions:

Something or several things happened in the late 1980's and early 1990's that changed the overall situation for violent crime in the United States. I think they are relatively easy to identify. Get tough on crime laws became popular in the mid to late 1980s. "Three strikes and you're Out" laws that send habitual violent criminals to jail for life are one example. Improvements in the various aspects of Castle Doctrine, such as Oklahoma's "Make My Day" law, that gave homeowners more ability to defend themselves made crime riskier. In essence the "cost" of crime went up dramatically in some areas.

I don't think you can rule out the 1987 passage of Florida's "Shall Issue" concealed carry law. Certainly Florida was not the first state to have a concealed carry law, nor was it the first state to have the "Shall Issue" form of the law, but the passage of Florida's law in 1987 was a catalyst for many states passing similar laws, or changing "May Issue" laws to "Shall Issue" taking the discretion away from bureaucrats over your right to defend yourself. All of these things made crime more risky - victims could no longer be counted on to be "helpless victims." Some would be armed citizens.

Certainly there is a demographic component to some of these numbers, but I don't think you can dismiss the work done by police departments, and the improved situation for self-defense. I only wish that more women would avail themselves of these means of self-defense, so that we might see the number of rapes and the number of domestic-violence murders decrease in years to come.

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