New Jersey – -(AmmoLand.com)- The FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2020 was recently released and everyone’s going gaga over it. As we should. Truth be told, the FBI Crime Report does offer up very important statistics. Pretty much they are the standard of where we’re to turn to for the raw data on violence, murder, property crimes, etc. Over the last few weeks there has been a good deal of reporting on the statistics, but how do they measure up? Honestly, I was personally not going to dive into the numbers just to dive into them to discuss them because they were released, however, I’ve been moved to do so based on the different headlines I’ve been reading since the report dropped. Generally, I’ll reference the reports when needed, but the rollout of the statistics doesn’t usually have me over the moon. Just a different data set to look at.
Three different headlines I feel illustrate some of the gaps in mainstream media.
Overall crime in N.J. decreased in 2020, but violence spiked during COVID-19 pandemic
Murders in NJ up around 25% last year, but overall crime down
To be fair, one of those headlines was from January of 2021, but was looking at the data directly available in New Jersey at that time, not the FBI statistics.
First, what moved me to even bring this up: “FBI Crime Report 2020: Violent Crime Down In New Jersey Again“. Published through the Patch network of news, by Montana Samuels, reporting from Mahwah, NJ. Patch reporting, at least in New Jersey, is generally pretty good. It’s one of the many news aggregates I’m subscribed to. According to the website AllSides, the Patch is considered “Center” in it’s bias rating. Well, that very may well be true if one looks at Patch through the country, however, in New Jersey, most of their reporting, when there is a bias, it’s left of center. This article is no different, as I find the work to be a sugar coating of what else was going on in the Garden State in 2020.
From the first two lines of the article:
Violent and property crimes decreased in New Jersey last year, according to data released by the FBI in its 2020 uniform crime report.
In New Jersey, the FBI estimated crime statistics based on reports from all 577 of the state’s law enforcement agencies.
Then to the sixth and seventh paragraphs:
The data shows violent crime went down in New Jersey from 2019 to 2020. Property crime went down during the same period.
In fact, the continued decline in these numbers completed a decade long trend in the state, which has seen both violent and property crimes decrease since 2010, according to the data.
Okay, so this is good news for those of us that do live in the state of New Jersey, kinda. However, that’s really a sugar coating. Because looking at the numbers things are not all that bright in the state that made tolls cool. In fact, the remaining 2/3rds of the article does bring up the fact that murders rose in New Jersey, but then there is a hard left turn and digression talking about, you guessed it, so-called “gun control” efforts.
Most types of violent and property crime occurrences were down as well, including rape, arson and robbery. Aggravated assault and homicides, however, did see an increase from 2019 t0 2020.
During the 2010s, the state’s homicide rate fell to the lowest point in 2019, at a mark of 3 homicides per 100,000 per year. The number rose past levels last seen in 2017 this past year, at a mark of 3.7 homicides per 100,000 people.
Neither the state Attorney General, nor the New Jersey State Police, responded to a request for comment on the numbers, but Gov. Phil Murphy perhaps provided some insight into how seriously the state is taking the issue of gun violence.
Of course, Murphy and the State Police have no comment on this. Murphy allegedly made us all safer by enacting all those new “gun control” measures he was so proud to sign. Taking in a question about the state’s stance on “the issue of gun violence” would perhaps be admitting failure. Murphy, you did not make us safer. Bravo for stripping us of our rights and having a zero net effect on the state’s murder rate. However, I’m going to toss you a small bone here. What Montana failed to report was the breakdown of those murders. From the Crime Data Explorer for New Jersey for 2020, we have the following chart:
The Chart As Text:
Weapon Number Handguns 156 Firearms, type not stated 71 Knives or cutting instruments 55 Personal weapons (hands/fists/feet/etc.) 13 Other weapons or weapons not stated 11 Blunt objects (clubs/hammers/etc.) 9 Fire 8 Asphyxiation 3 Rifles 2 Strangulation 1 Shotgun 0 Narcotics 0 Poison 0 Drowning 0 Other guns 0 Explosives 0 TOTAL 329
Okay, so yes, looking at this chart, more than the majority of murders were committed in New Jersey with firearms. The tally of 156 handguns, 71 not stated firearms type, 0 shotguns, and 2 rifles adds up to 229 murders. 69% of the murders were committed with a firearm of one sort or another. Even though there is still a 30% of other weapons and means used to murder in New Jersey, Montana, much like Governor Phil Murphy, wanted to focus on the gun. That’s fair, no really. How about just focusing on the fact that people are murdering each other? Does it really matter how they do it? What about the root causes? Let’s not go there.
What else is interesting about those numbers? The 2 murders were committed with rifles. Two. Read that Governor Murphy, two rifles. So by advocating for a .50 caliber ban or any further limitations on AR-style rifles (which a bill has been introduced in the past on this subject of further neutering semi-automatic long guns) would be moot. Keep your hands off the rifles, the statistics show they’re not a problem. .6% – that is six tenth of a percent of the murders in 2020 were committed with rifles. Blanket statement, keep your hands off all the firearms, clearly so-called “gun control” does not work.
Montana continued in his article to cite the latest “agreement” that Murphy got into with three other states as if this will have an effect.
Murphy, along with New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a Memorandum of Understanding to share crime gun data in “an effort to prevent gun violence and enhance public safety.”
What this means is that agencies from each of the four states can share crime gun data across state lines in an effort to cut down on the illegal firearms trade.
“Firearms trafficking networks frequently engage in criminal activities on an interstate basis, and in order to prevent gun violence in our communities, we must work collaboratively as a region,” said Murphy. “By sharing vital gun crime information with New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, we are equipping our law enforcement agencies with the necessary resources and intel to analyze, track, and deter gun violence. Our multi-state approach reaffirms our collective commitment and shared goal of ending gun violence in our communities and enhancing public safety throughout our region.”
All that amounts to is more chest-beating, “look at me, I’m doing something” non-sense, rolled out right before the election. Mr. I’m tough on “gun violence” Murphy froths at the mouth like a rabid dog whenever he has an opportunity to talk about firearms. Such was the case in the recent debate with Jack Ciattarelli as reported a couple of weeks ago (Murphy vs Ciattarelli NJ Gubernatorial Debate, Guns & Half Truths from Murphy ~ VIDEO).
As for this sharp decline in property and other violent crimes? The answer is simple. No, Phil Murphy did not concoct some sort of magical formula that made the crime go down. People were home, therefore they were not getting robbed, raped, and or burglarized. During the lockdowns of the pandemic, it made it too difficult for criminals to get down with their normal modus operandi. Okay, if Murphy wants to take credit for the decline in these other types of crime because he’s a tyrant, and he shut the state down, go right ahead. But there was no magical policing going on. It was simply people being locked up and locked down.
The other articles brought up look at this a bit differently than the Patch piece did.
From January 2021, “Overall crime in N.J. decreased in 2020, but violence spiked during COVID-19 pandemic“, an NJ.com article. NJ.com would best be described as a left-of-center news source with a heavy bias of anti-gun views. Generally speaking, NJ.com does not report pragmatically on the subject of civil liberties. But, I’ll give them credit where credit is due, their headline addresses the spike in violence. From the first few lines of the article:
While New Jersey is on pace for a double-digit drop in overall crime in 2020, violent crimes surged in some areas during the coronavirus pandemic, breaking records and bucking years of violent crime declines.
As of Nov. 30, 2020, New Jersey police departments reported 149,501 cases of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft – the seven crimes tracked by the FBI for statistical comparison. That’s down from 171,954 such crimes at the same time a year earlier, New Jersey State Police statistics show.
The 13% drop is largely attributed to major decreases in the three nonviolent crimes of burglary, larceny (theft) and auto theft, which coincides with pandemic lockdowns and stay-at-home orders earlier in the year.
With more people in their home during quarantines, burglaries dropped nationwide, as did shoplifting thefts when businesses closed as well, a Council on Criminal Justice report on COVID-19′s effect on crime shows.
For example, residential Bergen County had 90 burglaries for every 100,000 residents in 2019. As of Sept. 30, 2020, the rate had dropped to 58.
Violent crime, however, soared in urban areas and cities. Overall, New Jersey homicides had increased 23% as of Nov. 30, 2020. “It’s been a very challenging year,” Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said.
The reporting above pretty much does speak for itself. There was no real sugarcoating there, however, the noted rise of crime in certain areas etc. is attributed to the “pandemic”. Not some sort of inability of the Murphy administration to make meaningful changes in the state. Again, that whole so-called “gun control” thing, you might as well toss that out the window Murph.
Then there is the NJ 101.5 article “Murders in NJ up around 25% last year, but overall crime down“, which cuts right to the chase. NJ 101.5 can be described as being right of center in their reporting, but accurate.
Murders increased last year in New Jersey at the fastest pace per capita since 2003, though not as much as they did nationally, according to data in an annual FBI crime report issued Monday.
The murder rate in New Jersey climbed from 3 per 100,000 residents in 2019 to 3.7 per 100,000 in 2020, up 23%, reaching the highest it has been since 2016. But the national murder rate rose faster, from 5.1 to 6.5 between those two years, reaching a level last seen in 1997.
They don’t mince any words but go right to the fact that murders were up. That is meaningful. While the rest of the population jumps up to click their heels because fewer people were robbed while they were staying locked in their houses, at least someone is putting in their headlines the fact that murder went up.
The FBI Uniform Crime Report is a very important tool. As of now, it does not seem to be tainted, as would be expected from the US Government these days. However, we need to read between the lines when looking at “reporting” on these statistics. Again, the subject was not one I was explicitly seeking out to bring up, but the sugar coating of some of the reporting really has to make us wonder what are these reporters actually doing?
The numbers were there. All of them. Why not actually look at them?
Instead of taking a far left turn and digressing into a non sequitur about another meaningless program that needs no introduction from Phil Murphy and his ilk. A program that does not address the simple question of why so many people are murdering each other. Why not at least admit that “Hey, rifles are not the problem. Keep your ARs and repeal the laws limiting them.” or say “Man, those gun-control laws Murphy singed really did squat.” No, we get more pandering from the leftist media that tried to turn our rise in murder into a positive thing. Yeah, no, it’s not. No matter how many homes were not burglarized and people not robbed because we were caged like animals through 2020, none of these numbers are a cause to celebrate.
About John Petrolino
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .