Report: You Stand 1 Chance in 179 of Being Murdered; FBI ‘Buried’ Data

More people are arming for self-defense these days. Part of that should be preparedness training at a gun range. iStock-488768604
A recent report about the odds of being murdered in the U.S. underscores the increased interest in armed self-defense.

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.

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About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Dave Workman

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Safegunowner

Great article.
Whether confusing the data is intended or not,
40% of LE dept not reporting obviously skews the data.
Willing to bet money the missing data contains some high numbers.

Last edited 13 days ago by Safegunowner
Hazcat

If you make the base numbers in any system unreliable and unreadable you can then report anything you want. Same as Covid deaths, the 2020 Census, and the last two elections (at least). All part of the plan.

Oldvet

I’d take those odds on the lottery !

Rodoeo

Wouldn’t we all….

Last edited 13 days ago by Rodoeo
Bigfootbob

Dave, this is a frightening article on several fronts. Thank you for reporting this. I’m going to push this article out everyone needs to see this.

OlTrailDog

Perhaps the 40% just didn’t have the knowledge or patience to negotiate the digital maze of the new system and finally concluded “This is bullshit.”, “I’ve got a job to get done.”. This would also raise the question of how much of the 60% of the data entered was accurately entered or was it crammed in just to get a task fraught with ambiguity and uncertainly ‘done’. For example, I really didn’t know that owning an “automatic” handgun, firearm, rifle, or shotgun was even possible in MT.

Finnky

Why would it not be legal to own an automatic firearm in MT? It is legal in most states, just expensive and a hassle. I imagine the usual suspects have banned them (CA, NY, NJ, MD, etc) but legal elsewhere.

That said the only automatic I’ve seen in person was here in Texas. It was a G18 owned by an Ociffer – they are “the only ones” and “special” so are excused from most laws.

OlTrailDog

Sure, I will give you that it is technically and legally possible to own an “automatic” weapon in MT. However, as you illustrate in your reply, the odds of owning and committing a crime with an automatic weapon is minuscule. So much so, that keeping the statistics on such phenomenally rare circumstances would not really be worth the effort of entering the data. This is especially true when taken in context of there not being any categories listed in the article for “semi-automatic” weapons.

Finnky

How can you call homicide using “automatic” weapons rare? Far as I know there have been at least 3 in the country since NFA passed. One death per 30 years is obviously a crisis of unimaginable import! We need to stop worrying about risk of any non-violent death to focus on this HUGE issue. Personally, I’m more concerned with inflation. Am aware of only one suspected homicide among all the people I’ve known – person whom I did not care much for who may have been deliberately given an overdose. Meanwhile inflation is hurting every person I know. Physical violence… Read more »

OlTrailDog

Hear ye, hear ye.

DIYinSTL

Presumably the 3 homicides you reference are with legally owned automatic firearms. From what I gather in the numerous articles on this site, “glock switches” are all the rage with the inner city gangs and have likely been involved in several murders.

MICHAEL J

Inconvenient truth is just one enemy of government censorship. Directives from the top down will bear this out. False narratives including omissions of actual statistics serve only those who hold power over the uninformed.

USMC0351Grunt

Another excellent job in reporting, Mr. Workman. I seriously think it’s time for Ammoland to start, if not already doing so, winning highly respected journalism awards.

uncle dudley

I find it very hard to believe anything out of the FBI, their track record over the past ten years or so is to say very tainted.
Also, with the southern border being overrun with illegals every day wouldn’t that change the estimate they put out since the population increases.
Time for a reboot of this agency.

Roland T. Gunner

I would not believe anything these days if it weren’t for my Lucky Astrology Mood Watch.

Trussman

I actually have resorted to the magic 8 ball from my childhood.

gregs

i saw a similar article about this new reporting system and it said only two law enforcement agencies in florida turned in the info. i asked our local police department if they had received federal money to implement this new system and if they actually did reported the last years crime data using this new system. crickets for three weeks then they repeated my email and asked if this is what i requested. the games they are playing with me are going to hurt when i file a complaint with the attorney general. the city of homestead does have a… Read more »

DIYinSTL

You can be sure that the number of robberies and burglaries is way under-counted since CA says to not even bother calling it in if the theft or damage was under $1,000. I suppose the folks in Portland, Seattle and New York City don’t waste time with a phone call and just start sweeping up the broken glass.

Ral3312

Does the FBI have one damn thing left that we the people can believe? IT MUST BE RIPPED OUT BY THE ROOTS AND REPLACED BY SOMETHING NEW AND HONEST

Roberzilla

Well, apparently, the system was changed by Brandon to obfuscate, Surprise! But, the analysis is misleading, because a high proportion of murders includes minority gang members. We are not all equally at risk. More serious is the math: There are 330,000,000 people in the U.S.; so, dividing by 179, we get 1,843,575. murders. That figure is far above reality.

Last edited 13 days ago by Roberzilla
DIYinSTL

My guess is that the quoted odds are supposed to be over a lifetime, not just in one year. But even then 1 in 179 is too high. 1 in 3 or 4 thousand would be closer.

Matt in Oklahoma

Whew and I thought I was gonna have to wait till Alzheimer’s got me and I was a burden to my family.

Rodoeo

Depending on where you might find yourself in this country now it’s a 1:1 chance
I’m thinking of taking my chances with the animal kingdom’s apex predators. You have a much better chance with them. Then again, without a firearm they will run down and eat you just as fast.

Last edited 13 days ago by Rodoeo
MikeRoss

1 in 179 doesn’t sound reasonable, I’d like to see a more detailed explanation of how they came up with that number.

Finnky

(Number of Americans) divided by ((annual number of murders) multiplied by (life expectancy)
Very rough numbers
350M lives / (25000 murders x 80 years) = 350M / 2M = 175
So lifetime odds are ~1 in 175 using made up guess numbers (excluding 25k annual murders from article). Seems awfully close to articles179 number.

Bucketboy

Oh we wouldn’t want to show that the lib run cities are dens of crimes would we. That might hurt tourism (if you’re dumb enough to visit one of these places)

3l120

1 in 179 would be great in the south end of most cities. Elsewhere, they are bad odds. Real bad odds. Same as, 1 in 179 are great odds for folks of color, for the rest, bad odds. Just the way it is…

John Dow

Of course, those odds are nationwide. Depending on where you live or work, your odds could be worse, or could drop to near meaningless.Chicago vs Wall, SD – take your pick.