For an alternate viewpoint, see “Point: America’s Murder Rate Dropped Historically — but Not in All States; Here’s Why.”

There may be no tenet of faith so fundamental to the cult of gun control than the idea that more guns equate to more crime — a theory that was soundly disproven in 2023. Just four years after the biggest recorded one-year spike in our nation’s homicide rate, it looks as if the United States may have just gone through the biggest one-year decline, an impossibility according to gun control activists.

There are millions more guns around than there were four years ago, yet the vast majority of cities reported fewer homicides than they did in 2020. That includes several cities where permitless carry recently took effect. Atlanta reported a 22 percent decline in murders. Toledo, Ohio, saw a 34 percent drop in the homicide rate, almost identical to the 33 percent decline in Oklahoma City. The mayor of Miami boasted that the city had the fewest homicides since 1947, even though gun-control activists predicted the state’s permitless carry law would lead to more violence when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law last year.

Those same advocates also asserted that the demise of “may issue” concealed carry laws, which required applicants to demonstrate a justifiable need to have a firearm in self-defense, would also lead to more dangerous cities. There’s no evidence that the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen had any detrimental effect on public safety last year. Indeed, in the first full year that “shall issue” concealed carry was in place, Baltimore recorded fewer than 300 homicides for the first time in nearly a decade. At the same time, Los Angeles and New York saw 10 percent declines, even as more citizens were lawfully carrying firearms in self-defense.

Meanwhile, some of the most gun-controlled locales in the country saw their violence grow worse last year while it remained stagnant in many others. For instance, the District of Columbia reported the most murders in more than two decades. Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut, saw double-digit increases in homicide, with New Haven’s murders spiking by almost 65 percent. Seattle witnessed a 20 percent rise in the number of homicides, while the number of murders in Oakland, Calif., and San Francisco were almost unchanged from 2022.

The truth is that most U.S. cities had fewer murders last year regardless of the amount of gun-control laws in place. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given the local nature of violent crime, which is typically driven by fewer than 1 percent of a city’s population and who are already well-known to local police and the criminal justice system. The most effective crime-fighting strategies are those that target the most likely and prolific offenders, which means that gun-control laws aimed at legal gun owners are wildly off-target.

Those strategies vary wildly from city to city, just like their crime rates. And their effectiveness depends far more on the individuals guiding those programs than any legislation signed into law by a governor. Take Kansas City and St. Louis, which operate under the same Missouri gun laws but saw the number of homicides veer off in different directions last year, increasing by 7 percent in Kansas City while dropping by more than 20 percent in St. Louis.

Gun-control advocates may want to point at Kansas City’s woes while ignoring the progress made in St. Louis, but if we’re serious about improving public safety, we need an honest accounting of what’s working, what isn’t, and yes, what can be done without infringing on the fundamental right to armed self-defense. The data are telling us that more guns don’t equal more crime, but unfortunately, the gun control lobby and their allies in elected office don’t seem to be listening.