A year after President Joe Biden signed bipartisan legislation to curb gun violence, data is showing a drop in the number of homicides and other crimes.
While polling has shown that many Americans believe crime is on the rise, NBC News reported on Dec. 16 that it has actually dropped significantly in 2023 compared to 2022. FBI data for the third quarter of the year showed that violent crime was down 8% compared with a year ago and that property crime had dropped 6.3% to its lowest level in more than 60 years, according to an analysis by criminologist Jeff Asher. It also showed that the murder rate is down to where it was before a COVID-19 pandemic spike.
In Milwaukee, the number of homicides has dropped by 23% in the year to date from its level in 2022, according to the Milwaukee Police Department.
In his 2017 inaugural address, President Donald Trump promised an immediate end to what he called the “American carnage” in urban areas. The nation’s homicide rate in fact went up from 5.1 homicides per 100,000 people in 2019 to 6.5 in 2020 on Trump’s watch. Republicans baselessly blamed the rise in crime on weak enforcement by Democratic-led city governments and on anti-racism protesters.
It is not clear yet what caused the pandemic crime spike or the subsequent drop. But in the interim, Congress enacted a law aimed at curbing gun violence.In June 2022, Congress passed and Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a gun safety compromise package that expanded background checks for gun buyers under age 21, boosted funding for mental health and school safety, provided grants to states that adopt red flag laws to temporarily disarm those judged an imminent danger to themselves or others, and closed a loophole that had allowed some with previous domestic abuse convictions or restraining orders against them to access firearms.
Wisconsin Republican U.S. Reps. Scott Fitzgerald, Mike Gallagher, Glenn Grothman, Bryan Steil, and Tom Tiffany all voted against the reforms, as did Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. The state’s House and Senate Democrats voted in favor.
Republicans in Congress have blocked Democratic bills that would implement universal background checks, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and temporarily disarm those judged to be an imminent danger to themselves or others.