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It may not feel like it, but Americans are much safer than they were decades ago

The past two months have been filled with horrifying news. There was the worst mass shooting in US history at a gay club in Orlando, Florida. Two high-profile police shootings killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. There were horrific acts of anti-police violence in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And the Republican convention is now trumpeting the slogan, "Make America safe again."

But as awful as recent events are, they don't represent a growing problem with gun violence in America. In fact, since 1991, the murder rate, along with all violent crime, has plummeted in the US, making this one of the safer periods in American history.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't care about horrifying acts of gun violence. The US still leads the developed world in both gun deaths and overall homicides — in large part, according to the empirical research, due to the nation's abundance of guns. There are also signs that murders have ticked up in the past year in some US cities, although this does not seem to be a fully nationwide trend and it's not clear if this will hold in the long term.

But in these moments, it's comforting to know that we have made some progress. As horrific as mass shootings and school shootings are, Americans are much less likely to be killed in a murder than they have been in generations.

If you want to learn more about the incredible crime drop and the theories for why it happened, check out Vox's explainer:


Watch: America's gun problem, explained

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