President Trump has unintentionally repeated false information in a meeting on Tuesday. However, this wasn’t just a small slip in front of a few people.
On Tuesday morning, in a meeting with the National Sheriffs Association (which is made up of a group of more than 3k sheriffs from all over the country), President Trump uttered a flat-out falsehood: That the murder rate in America is at its peak in nearly 50 years.
He was quoted as telling the sheriffs, “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” He then said that the news was at fault for not publicizing this awful development before adding, “But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess 45 or 47 years.”
However, our country’s murder rate isn’t at the highest it’s been in half a century. In fact, it is nearly at its lowest point – a fact that was released by the FBI itself. Murder rates are one of the many yearly statistics that the FBI gathers.
To help understand how this might have been misinterpreted, we have to look at how the information is gathered.
Murder rates are defined as ‘the number of murders and non-negligent homicides per 100,000 residents.’
In ’57, the rate was a meager 4.0 per 100k residents, a figure which rose to 10.2 by 1980. However, it then began to drop, hitting 7.4 in ’96, 6.1 in ’06, and nearly down to 4.4 just 3 years ago in 2014.
It did go up to 4.9 in 2015, but that’s hardly a reason to claim that rates were higher than they’d been in 47 years. Murder rates have been on a steady decline even with population growths from 265 million in ’96 to 321 million in ’15.
As a whole, the violent crime rate has also been dropping in America. Covering aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder, the violent crime rate peaked in 1991 with 758 crimes per 100,000 residents. 2015’s 373 per 100,000 residents yet again saw a huge decline – more than half.
This is not ‘new’ news. While campaigning for the presidency, he made the same claim many times. This left many to speculate what he might have actually meant. Many suspected that he got confused about the one-year increase in the murder rate with what the actual murder rate was. This is because the murder rate rose a staggering 11% in just 2015 alone, but the rate of 4.9 per 100k still remains well below the high levels of the 70s and 80s.
Here is the quote regarding the murder rate:
President Trump stated, “And yet the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years. I used to use that, I’d say that in a speech and everybody was surprised. Because the press [gestures to reporters] doesn’t tell it like it is. It wasn’t to their advantage to say that. but the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, 45 to 47 years.”