Homicides increased by 8.6 percent in 2016 according to the newly-released FBI Uniform Crime Report, with an estimated 17,250 homicides, although the expanded homicide data for that year shows a total of 15,070 slayings.
More than 6,500 victims were white, more than 7,800 were black and more than 2,300 were Hispanic or Latino, the report says. Of all those murders, 11,004 involved firearms, demonstrating once again that one doesn’t need a gun to commit mayhem. More than 1,600 people were stabbed or slashed fatally and another 472 were beaten and/or stomped to death.
One other thing remained constant, according to a five-year data history that is part of this year’s report. Rifles of any kind – presumably including so-called “assault rifles” – accounted for a fraction of the murders in 2016. Out of all those homicides, only 374 were specifically attributed to rifles, although the report does note that 3,077 people were killed with “firearms, type not stated.”
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Still, this tends to create a problem for anti-gunners who have lobbied for a ban on “assault rifle” lookalikes. They do not contribute much to the homicide problem, even if a percentage of the “not stated” guns were rifles.
According to the FBI, overall violent crime went up 4.1 percent last year over the previous year, but property crime declined 1.3 percent from 2015. That continues a 14-year trend.
Is the problem more guns, or gun laws that apparently don’t work?
Arizona, which has “constitutional carry” without any sort of required permit, posted 336 murders last year, of which 227 involved firearms. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, as of Sept. 24 there were 321,291 active concealed carry permits in the state, where they have a “shall issue” law for those who qualify and want a permit for reciprocity reasons.
Neighboring California, with some of the strictest gun laws in the country and a “may issue” scheme that leaves many people unarmed, there were 1,930 homicides last year, of which 1,368 involved firearms, according to the FBI chart.
But there is not a firm pattern on this. Texas reported 1,459 murders last year, including 1,066 that involved guns.
New York, with its stronger gun laws, had an estimated 628 murders, opposed to the 611 reported in 2015, but fewer of those slayings involved guns. The spike was in stabbings, showing that when someone is determined to kill, they’ll find a weapon.
One thing these figures once again prove is that when the gun prohibition lobby talks about “33,000 people a year die from ‘gun violence,’” they are including suicides and accidental deaths along with homicides under the term “gun violence.” Second Amendment advocates say that is disingenuous at best.