On Wednesday, the Justice Department released a crime report that indicated violent crime and property crime rose in 2011, apparently ending a two-decade long decline in crime rates.
Per the report, between 2010 and 2011, violent crime jumped 18 percent, from 19.3 to 22.5 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older.
Violent crime is defined as rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault.
Of those subcategories, aggravated and simple assault spiked 22 percent, which was the largest and only statistically significant increase.
In other words, there was no measurable difference in rape, sexual assault, or robbery and the 22 percent increase in assaults is solely responsible for the overall 18 percent increase in violent crime.
For reference, aggravated and simple assault are crimes that involve a threat but no weapon and which typically result in minor injuries.
To put this all in perspective, the report said although the 18 percent increase appears to be large, it’s actually a sign of how low crime rates have dropped over the years. To put it another way, the perennially low rates make even the slightest change appear disproportionally large.
Overall, the report states that crime remains at “historically low levels.” And since 1993, the rate “of violent victimization declined 72 percent.
With respect to total property crime, it shot up 11 percent in 2011, from 125.4 to 138.7 victimizations per 1,000 households. Total property crime consists of household burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft.
Like with violent crime, the majority of the total rise can be pinned to an increase in one subcategory. In this case, household burglary jumped 14 percent, from 25.8 to 29.4 victimizations per households.
One thing to note is that this DOJ report contradicts a preliminary report issued by the FBI back in June, which showed a 4 percent decline in violent crime in 2011, when compared to 2011 (for more on this report, click here).
Thought to be the most comprehensive report on annual crime statistics, the FBI’s complete Uniform Crime Report is due out on Oct. 29.
Experts suggest that discrepancies between the two reports could be an indication of a failure of law enforcement around the country to reliably submit crime data to the DOJ and FBI.
“It calls into question whether police departments, either subtly or overtly, are discouraging reporting,” Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, told HuffPost Crime.
“There’s real pressure on police departments to have the numbers going down all the time,” O’Donnell added.
So, what does this crime data mean for gun owners?
At the national level, crime still remains at “historically low levels” (both reports confirm this) and gun ownership continues to rise as more people obtain concealed carry permits, which means that (as I’ve said multiple times before) more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens does not increase crime rates. This, of course, is good news.
The other thing to take away from all of this is to remember that despite how infrequent it may occur, crime still exists. There are bad people out there. As such, continue to hone your skills and constantly be looking for ways to improve your self-defense posture (This last point is rather obvious, but it bears repeating. You can never have enough range time or practice preparing for an attacker or home invader. If it does go down one day, you want to be as prepared as possible).