During the Prohibition Era (1920's and 1930's), the US saw a steep increase in murder rates. After a noticeable decline following the end of Prohibition, murders began to rise again and Nixon's declaration of war on drugs served as the main catalyst.
The downward trend beginning in the 1990's could be a result of several factors, including the rise of prescription and OTC drug abuse, and quicker and more efficient medical responses.
Overall, the murder rate has been steadily lowering into the new century and may continue to do so, in spite of highly publicized shootings that ruffle the feathers of public opinion. Another spike is not guaranteed nor imminent, but to rule one out entirely would be naive.
Using history as my guide, the next catalyst will be increased gun control, and possibly a ban on most if not all guns. Take Chicago for example as a microcosm of what can happen if the country with over 3 million guns adopted stricter gun laws. Not all cities are like Chicago, but it is suffice to say that more laws doesn't mean less crime. In fact, it can result in the opposite.
History says that Prohibition, the War on Drugs, and the soon-to-be Gun Ban have one thing in common: They give power to the bad guys.
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Without divulging into specifics, There is a common sense reason why there would be a correlation here. Laws encourage illegal activity. Yes its ironic but its true.
Prohibition is a good example. When alcohol was made illegal, it didn't stop people from wanting to drink it. As per usual the gov't didn't account for the human factor. They assumed that like a computer, they could just write a line of code saying "Don't do this" and everyone would follow it 100% of the time. All it meant was now people had to be more creative and or forceful about how they got their liquor. As a result, crime took over the liquor market with gangs and the mob controlling much of its production and sale, since it its legality made it impossible to produce in controlled and regulated environments.
The same thing can be said about drugs. I won't bother linking stats because I think everyone can agree that there are a large number of deaths that result from the drug trade (i.e. gang member kills another person over drugs). If everyone could buy pot at the gas station like a pack of cigarettes, this wouldn't be happening. Granted they might find something else to fight over but that's besides the point here.
Everyone knows that laws do not prevent things, they simply give the judge a means to punish. Murder is illegal, but that doesn't stop people from killing each other, it just gives us something to charge the killers with.
I won't deny that in some cases, laws can at least curb the activity as with murder but murder is an extreme example so probably not the best one. I assume this question is pointed at gun control, in which I have to agree, there is no evidence that stricter gun laws stop violent crime, and in many cases there is evidence to the contrary. Britain added more gun laws not long ago and have see about a 30% increase in violent crime. Vice verse, switzerland gives every male a rifle at 18 and teaches them how to use it (through 1yr manditory military service). They have the lowest crime rate in the developed world. During the assault weapons band that expired in 2004, there was little drop in violent crime, hence the reason the supreme court through it out. It basically was a pointless law. I live in Chicago, which has very strict gun laws, yet our murder rate is on of the highest in the us. May residents are pushing for concealed carry as a result so that they can defend themselves from the rampant crime.
Like you said, this entire debate is about emotions. The news shows one horrific event and everyone gets their panties twisted, when in reality nothing has changed. Two gang members shoot each other in TX and its headline news because its at a school, yet this happens every day in Chicago and nobody cares. That's why I call the bluff of any gun control advocate. There is nothing to back up their claims, They are uneducated about guns types, calibers, and the like, hence the false classification of assault rifle or "high powered".