Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Perception of (violent) Crime problem is a nationwide epidemic, Pew reports

Posted By on Wed, May 8, 2013 at 4:30 PM

HOW YA LIKE ME NOW? New Pew study could give former APD Chief Richard Pennington something to smile about.
  • Joeff Davis
  • HOW YA LIKE ME NOW? New Pew study could give former APD Chief Richard Pennington something to smile about.
Somewhere, former Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington is having an "I told you so" moment. According to a new Pew Research Center study, the "perception of crime problem" that Pennington famously declared was running rampant in this city during his tenure is not limited to Atlanta.

Atlantic Cities writes about the Pew study - which addresses the national decline in gun homicides and violent crime over the last 20 years - in a piece titled, "Why Do So Many People Think Gun Violence is Getting Worse?"

Based on Pew's research, national firearm homicides declined by 49 percent between 1993 and 2000. Non-fatal gun crimes also dropped dramatically during the same time. Yet, only 12 percent of the national population surveyed by Pew believes crime involving guns decreased over the last two decades. Fifty-six percent of those questioned think it's increased.

So why the huge discrepancy between the real crime numbers and the perception of crime cited in the report? It has to be the uptick in high-profile mass-shootings, Atlantic Cities writer Emily Badger surmises. But before she gets to that point, she makes an interesting assumption in posing the question, which may not ring true locally:

If gun violence has dramatically declined in America, and many cities are safer today as a result - and plenty of people moving back into them seem to intuitively understand this - why do so many people think gun violence is getting worse?

The part in the middle about "plenty of people" returning to cities is no doubt a reference to the continuing gentrification occurring in cities across the country. But the suggestion that a majority of new city dwellers "seem to intuitively understand" how much safer cities are from gun violence today presumes that this segment of the population was equally tuned into the inner-city crime stats two decades ago when many newcomers were still living comfortably in the 'burbs.

Seriously doubt that. Though it should be noted that a large part of Atlanta's so-called "perception of crime problem" during Pennington's tenure (2002-2009) revolved around a noted increase in property crimes.

Of course, in the current political environment these new Pew stats are ripe for creative interpretation. As for the 20-year drop in violent crimes, Atlanta emcee and noted gun advocate Killer Mike recently made the same declaration during a recent NYC radio interview on Power 105's the Breakfast Club morning show. The whole interview is great, but his pro-gun stance comes between the 19:00-25:35 minute mark. He makes such a strong case for owning firearms for protection that it almost feels like the progressive thing to do.

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