New research from John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, reveals that a shockingly large percentage of Americans believe that most violent crimes involve a firearm. This is not true.
As Lott recently wrote “a new survey finds that people are badly misinformed about how much violent crime involves guns. The average likely voter is way off, thinking that over 46% of violent crimes involve guns. In fact, the true figure is less than 8%. Not surprisingly, those who believe that most violent crime involves guns are more likely to view gun control as the solution.”
Part of the reason for this view may be the result of President Joe Biden’s (D) continual misrepresentations about violent crime and firearms. As Lott noted, in four major speeches on violent crime and gun control since taking office, Biden mentioned “gun” or “firearm” 179 times, and “weapon” (sometimes connected with “assault weapon”) another 31 times.
In those same speeches, Biden refers to the words “crime,” “violence” or “violent” 94 times, with the words “murder” or “homicide” used seven times.
Biden’s overall message—shared without much of a critical view from the media—is that “guns” and “firearms” are the problem, not the criminals committing the crimes. The solution, according to Biden and fellow anti-gun activists, is ever-more gun control.
“But,” Lott noted, “this ‘guns first’ approach to reduce overall violent crime ignores a basic fact—over 92% of violent crimes in America do not involve firearms. Although Biden blames guns for the increase in violent crime, the latest data show that gun crimes fell dramatically.”
That data came right from the federal government; specifically, it came the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey. In the latest year available, 2020, that survey indicated that just 7.9% of violent crimes, including aggravated assaults, murders, rapes and robberies, involved the use of a firearm.
Lott’s research on both the actual percentage of violent crimes involving firearms versus the public perception of guns and crime is bolstered by a number of other studies.
For example, a 2019 survey conducted by APM Research Lab discovered that Americans were generally unaware that suicides account for 60% of all gun deaths in the United States.
So what did Americans think were the leading causes of gun deaths? According to the APM survey, one-third of American adults believed that “murders other than mass shootings” were the top cause of death by firearms, while one-quarter thought mass shootings were actually the leading cause of gun-related deaths.
In reality, according to “The Impact of Mass Shootings on Gun Policy,” a working paper published by the Harvard Business School, mass shootings accounted for just 0.13% of all gun deaths in the United States and 0.34% of gun murders committed between 1989 and 2014. Although the term “mass shooting” varies in its definition depending on the source, in this case, the authors defined a “mass shooting” as involving three or more victims that were not romantically related, and these researchers used state and federal law enforcement statistics for their data.
Meanwhile, a survey of 1,000 likely voters done in April 2022 by McLaughlin & Associates found that some of these respondents believed that over 80% of violent crimes involved firearms. Overall, 33% of those surveyed supported more gun-control laws, while 28% wanted more strict enforcement of current gun laws. At the same time, just 36% of those surveyed thought the response should be to focus on arresting violent criminals.
Americans who believe most violent crimes are committed with guns “consistently support more gun control,” Lott noted. “Those who don’t believe that instead want to focus on arresting violent criminals and keeping them in jail.”
Unfortunately, the mainstream media focuses on and sensationalizes the small percentage of violent crimes where firearms are used and essentially ignore the 92% of violent crimes that are committed without the use of a firearm.
Since the vast majority of these violent crimes do not involve the use of firearms, how will more gun-control laws reduce our nation’s violent crime rates? It’s a question ignored by anti-Second Amendment politicians, the mainstream media and gun-control activists.