August 23, 2014 by David K. Sutton
What Civil Liberties Are You Ready To Give Up To Feel Safe?
I wrote an article in February 2012 positing crime is not at an all-time high, and I backed it up with statistics.
While the 50-year low for murder per 100,000 was in 1962 and 1963 with 4.6 per 100,000, those years were actually down a bit from the rest of the 1960s which ranged from 4.8 to 7.3. What was the 2010 number? – 4.8 per 100,000 – That’s a tie with 1961. Yes, you read that correctly. The murder rate, indexed to population was at a near 50-year low in 2010. Compare that to the worst year, 1980, when the rate was 10.2 per 100,000.
The purpose of that article, the charts, and the statistics was not to say we are the safest we have ever been. The purpose was to illustrate that crime trends are going in the opposite direction of public perception. Ask the average American their thoughts on crime now compared to the past, and most will tell you crime is at an all-time high, but this is simply untrue, and I believe the gap between reality and perception has major implications for what civil liberties people are willing to give up to feel safe.
The importance of this misaligned perception cannot be overstated. The impression that crime is out of control is what allows the Department of Homeland Security to arm local police forces as if they are preparing to invade a foreign country. This notion that we must be tough on crime, and there can be no nuanced approach to combating crime, contributes to a shoot first mentality, ending in the death of unarmed citizens, like the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Yes, we are not as safe as we were in the 1960s, but we are much safer than we were in the 1980s and the early 90s. Cable news and the local news mentality of “if it bleeds it leads” is a contributing factor, but to what degree I am unable to say. The question is, do you still believe crime is worse than it has ever been? And if you believe this, why do you reject the statistics that say otherwise? And what civil liberties are you ready to give up to feel safe?