U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- A careful study of murders last year by a non-profit research institute called Just Facts concluded earlier this month that a U.S. citizen faces 1-in-179 odds of being murdered in his/her lifetime, rather than dying of other causes.
Just Facts President and co-founder James D. Agresti revealed in a lengthy report that the FBI murder data for 2021 is woefully incomplete, and the true number—based on an examination of death certificate data—is about 10,000 more slayings than the estimated 14,677 reported by NewsNation and other outlets, which is “Based on a misunderstanding of new FBI data,” Agresti wrote.
The problem may be worse than a simple misunderstanding, however.
Ammoland reached out to Agresti but did not receive a timely response.
According to the Just Facts report, “In 2021, the year Joe Biden became president, the FBI began making it far more difficult to access national estimates of murders and other crimes. The agency did this by dramatically changing the manner in which it reports such data.”
Ammoland has noted previously how the FBI’s new reporting platform is “user unfriendly.”
In the past, the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR) was a model of user-friendliness, with links to various subjects, including “Homicide” and “Violent Crime” and “Weapons.” There was even a state-by-state breakdown of homicide estimates with data on types of weapons used. It was used up to the 2019 report.
But last year, that changed as the FBI introduced the “Crime Data Explorer” when it released the 2020 report which, as noted by Just Facts, “contains a maze of vaguely worded links, drop down menus, and acronyms.”
Here’s how complicated the new platform makes it for users, as detailed by Just Facts:
“To locate the FBI’s estimate of murders for 2021 with this system, readers must:
- go to the Crime Data Explorer home page and scroll past three prominent links named “Crime Data Explorer,” “Law Enforcement Explorer,” and “Documents and Downloads” which lead to webpages with scores of menus and files that don’t contain the data.
- scroll to a section of the webpage titled “Explore by Location and Dataset: State participation depicts current year.”
- click on a dropdown menu under a header named “Dataset” and select the menu item that says “NIBRS Estimation Data,” which leads to another webpage.
- scroll to a section of the webpage called “NIBRS Estimation Viewer” and read the report that contains the data via a file viewer that sometimes fails to display the report or click on a link that says “Download NIBRS Trend Analysis Report.”
Thus, the Just Facts report is headlined “As Murders Soar, FBI Buries the Data.”
As reported by The Blaze, “Nearly 40% of U.S. police departments did not provide the FBI with complete crime data for 2021 by the March deadline.” When Ammoland reported on this year’s FBI Crime Report back on Oct. 7, we noted the same problem, describing it as a “fiasco.”
To remedy the situation and get to the truth, Just Facts dug into data from different sources, including the CDC, to determine a far closer homicide estimate for 2021.
“Homicide counts from death certificates are published by the CDC via two online data extraction portals,” Just Facts noted. “Both of these report 24,576 homicides in 2020, but they don’t yet present data for 2021. However, another CDC portal provides provisional homicide rates through 2021, reporting 7.5 homicides per 100,000 people in 2020 and 7.8 in 2021. Combining these three figures yields 25,559 homicides in 2021.”
A few lines later, the Just Facts report states: “Removing justifiable homicides to obtain an estimate of actual murders, about 24,493 people were murdered in 2021. This is about 1,000 more murders than in 2020, a 5% increase on top of a 28% increase the year before that.”
“To provide a sense of scale for this bloodshed,” Agresti wrote, “one out of every 179 people in the U.S. will eventually be slain if murders remain at the same rate as 2021.”
Another significant part of the equation was noted by Fox News: “Experts who have previously spoken to Fox News Digital pointed to calls to defund the police, the riots of 2020, the Ferguson effect — when police pull back amid a spike in violent crime and unrest — and the COVID pandemic for contributing to the bloodshed of 2020.”
Considering the magnitude of this statement, it becomes understandable why so many more citizens have been buying guns and applying for carry permits and licenses over the past two years. As Ammoland has frequently reported about Washington state, the number of active concealed pistol licenses is skyrocketing toward 700,000 by the end of this year. In a state with a population of about 7.3 million, this might translate to roughly one-in-eight qualified adults being licensed to carry.
Put this phenomenon on a national scale and the estimate could be well above 20 million, and that would not include the number of people carrying without a license/permit in the 25 states that no longer require such a document in order to be armed in public for personal protection.
Still, there is a significant and unanswered question: Why did the FBI make it harder to access crime data, including homicides?
In 2021, this correspondent tried repeatedly to contact the FBI media office for assistance in navigating the new “Crime Data Explorer” website. Calls and emails were not returned.
According to Fox News, “The FBI switched to a new recording program at the start of 2021 called the National Incident-Based Reporting System that aims to provide a more thorough snapshot of offenses, such as what weapons were used in an incident, types of property stolen and more detailed demographic information on victims and perpetrators of crimes.”
But it appears nearly 40 percent of law enforcement agencies simply did not, or could not, provide data to the new reporting system.
Ammoland found another problem with the data regarding weapons used in crimes. The listing is horribly confusing, as underscored by this sample from the Montana page. There are categories titled “Handgun,” “Firearm,” “Rifle,” “Other Firearm,” “Shotgun,” “Handgun (Automatic),” “Firearm (Automatic),” “Rifle (Automatic),” and “Shotgun (Automatic).”
It appears without question the Just Facts project has opened a proverbial can of worms, but the effort can certainly be used by gun rights and personal protection advocates to justify the continuing strong interest in gun ownership, the demand for competent instruction and training, and resistance to new gun control laws that make it harder for people to exercise their right to keep and (especially) bear arms.
About Dave Workman