The fear of crime is something that motivates people to lock their doors at night and to avoid eye contact on public transportation. But, according to Hampton Roads’ News Channel 3, much of that fear is misdirected. They cite a new study from the Pew Research Center that says gun violence is at its lowest in decades, and still falling.
The study says that gun crimes have continued to fall since the 1990s, when they peaked, and crime overall is down to levels not seen since the 1960s. But, Virginians and others across the country are more apt to believe crime is higher than before.
Most of those interviewed by NewsChannel 3 said they believed gun violence was worse. Across the country, 56% of people believe gun crime is higher now than in recent years. In truth, however, gun homicides have been cut in half, and other gun crimes have similarly fallen.
In Virginia, gun-related deaths fell from 318 in 2005 to 208 in 2011—a significant drop.
All crime has fallen, but violent crime in particular has taken a steady dip over the past several decades. And while law enforcement would love to take credit for this, the jury is still out on the reasons.
Despite crime falling, the public still “eats up” tough on crime rhetoric. People don’t only lock their doors at night, they lock them all day long, and set alarm systems. They want the police to act swiftly when crime is afoot and the police comply.
If you are on the “wrong side” of the law, you can expect to be treated as an example. Although laws and police in many states are gradually softening their approach—preferring to be smart rather than tough on crime—that isn’t always the case in Virginia.
Whether you are accused of a drug offense or a gun crime, the perception of crime often comes into play in how your case is handled. Prosecutors work to ensure you “learn your lesson” and to avoid future arrests. After all, they have an image to uphold and there is no greater insult for them than being labeled soft on crime.