The FBI Crime Report for 2022 says homicides declined last year by about 6.1 percent, but for the third year in a row, the agency’s data is offered through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and the Summary Reporting System (SRS), resulting in a user-unfriendly platform not nearly as understandable as the last Uniform Crime Report for the year of 2019.
In its coverage, The Guardian stated in its headline, “The FBI released its annual national crime stats. The data is horribly incomplete.”
“Since 1930,” The Guardian explained, “the FBI has collected data from local police departments and shared the data annually through their Uniform Crime Reporting Program. In recent years, however, the bureau had been transitioning to a new data collection system, the national incident-based reporting system (NIBRS), which, according to the agency, offers more granular and better-quality data.”
But is it? According to the 2022 report, “there were 15,047 homicide incidents, and 16,485 offenses reported in the United States by 13,293 law enforcement agencies that submitted National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data, and covers 75% of the total population.”
In the 2019 report, and in previous years, the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) posted the estimated number of homicides. There was a chart showing the number, plus details about the weapons used (i.e., handguns, rifles, shotguns, cutting instruments, blunt objects/instruments, etc.). Under the NIBRS reporting system, when one looks at the weapons types, one finds the following classifications: Handgun, Firearm, Rifle, Other Firearm, Handgun (Automatic), Firearm (Automatic), Shotgun, Rifle (Automatic), Other Firearm (Automatic), Shotgun (Automatic). There is a separate line for “Unknown,” but no reference to whether this is for “unknown firearm” or simply some other weapon. Ditto a line for “Other” without any explanatory reference. Making sense of this list, when compared to the old user-friendly UCR platform, is difficult, if not impossible.
When the FBI first unveiled this NIBRS system, repeated calls, emails, and voice messages to the FBI in Washington, D.C. for an explanation of the data went unanswered.
As noted by The Hill, “The FBI relies on reporting by local law enforcement agencies to compile its report on the state of crime around the country. The agency estimates its data covers about 94% of the population.”
In past years, the FBI UCR had two specific categories for justifiable homicides, one for police and the other for private citizens. They are nowhere to be found in the NIBRS system, at least not easily.
According to an FBI news release announcing the 2022 report, “In December 2015, the CJIS Advisory Policy Board (APB) endorsed the NIBRS transition and the FBI Director approved in February 2016. The FBI announced to law enforcement agencies it would transition to the more comprehensive NIBRS collection. Last year, the data was exclusively collected via NIBRS. Both the NIBRS, 2021 and Crime in the United States (CIUS), 2021 releases were based solely on NIBRS submissions. While in the transition period to NIBRS, the UCR Program published a limited release of the traditional CIUS, 2021, along with a trend study comparing 2020 and 2021 crime data using a selection of the new NIBRS estimation data.
“For the 2022 data year,” the news release continues, “to provide nationally representative data, the FBI accepted NIBRS data and SRS data submissions from agencies. NIBRS data was submitted by 13,293 law enforcement agencies whose jurisdictions covered more than 256 million United States inhabitants. SRS data was accepted from 2,431 non-transitioned agencies representing 55,441,278 inhabitants. These agencies added an additional 16.6% population coverage, bringing the total national population coverage for Crime in the Nation, 2022 to 93.5%.”
A line in The Guardian story is telling: “Before the transition to NIBRS between 95-97% of US police departments submitted their data.”
The “good” news in the 2022 NIBRS report is that the “FBI’s crime statistics estimates for 2022 show that national violent crime decreased an estimated 1.7% in 2022 compared to 2021 estimates:”
- Murder and non-negligent manslaughter recorded a 2022 estimated nationwide decrease of 6.1% compared to the previous year.
- In 2022, the estimated number of offenses in the revised rape category saw an estimated 5.4% decrease.
- Aggravated assault in 2022 decreased an estimated 1.1% in 2022.
- Robbery showed an estimated increase of 1.3% nationally.
A report in the New York Times noted that the 6 percent decline in murders from 2021 to 2022 found unidentified “experts,” saying the “preliminary data for 2023 indicates that the decline has accelerated this year.”
“Overall,” the NYT reported, “violent crime was down slightly in 2022 over 2021, the report said. But firearms were used in almost half a million violent crimes across the country, about the same number as in 2021, the report said.”
The second sentence in the above paragraph may tell readers more than intended. Guns are still being used in crime, which likely means more proposals for restrictions on law-abiding gun owners and would-be gun buyers. Meanwhile, criminals do not appear deterred.
About Dave Workman
Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.