Oh, you crazy Americans! Here you are, obsessed with guns, thinking you need them to stop some leering thug from invading your home and taking everything you have. Truth be told, you don't have to worry about that nearly as much as, say, 20 years ago. A new Pew Research Center poll says while the gun homicide rate has dropped a substantial 49% since 1993, most Americans (56%) think gun crime is higher now than 20 years ago.
In fact, gun death rates in the last part for the first decade of the 21st century had plunged to a level not seen since the 1960s. So why do so many think we're on the verge of a gun violence apocalypse? There are no easy answers, but a few reasons come to mind. The perceived increase in the frequency of mass shootings may have something to do with it. Perhaps the consequence of allowing too many people who have no business possessing weapons played a contributing role.
An interesting sidebar to the Pew study is this. In answer to virtually every question, blacks and Latinos think gun violence is up at a higher rate than whites. This might be attributed to another sad fact. According to the study, 72% of the gun homicide victims in 2010 were black and Latino. Together, this group made up 29% of the total population.
So could there be another reason why so many Americans have an upside down view of gun violence? At the risk of dogging my own profession, does the media have anything to do with it? Media is, after all, an easy target. People know they can blame the media for just about anything, and they also know the media won't change unless forced to by revenue concerns.
One could take some comfort in the notion that we're not killing each other as often as we did 20 years ago.
Question is, if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?
You tell me.
Listen to The RL Morning Show with Mark Riley weekdays 6 AM to 9 AM. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkRileyMedia.