Despite the headlines about mass shootings, like last week’s in Oregon, in terms of people’s day-to-day lives and the stories in local media, violent crime is less of an issue today than it was in the United States in 1994. The numbers are still high when compared to other developed countries, but low compared to where the country used to be.
That may have played a role in peoples’ attitudes about gun control. The epidemic of violence that dominated news coverage in the late-1980s and early-1990s gave way to news stories about dropping crime rates and safer cities. That’s become the dominant crime story over the past two decades. It’s one thing see coverage of a senseless horrific shooting somewhere far away from you. It’s another thing to see crime scene tape a few blocks away and personally know victims.
The latest data suggest those declines may be starting to reverse themselves, particularly in big cities and if that rising trend continues, attitudes on gun control may shift.