Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Media Coverage Regularly Ignores Guns as the Primary Driver of Violent Crime, New CAP Analysis Finds
Press Release

RELEASE: Media Coverage Regularly Ignores Guns as the Primary Driver of Violent Crime, New CAP Analysis Finds

Washington, D.C. — The recent rise in violent crime is top of mind for voters and lawmakers alike, and the one common driver largely responsible for the increase in violent crime, in both rural and metro areas, is guns. Nationally, 80 percent of homicides in 2020 were committed with a gun, and gun homicides rose by 35 percent from 2019 to 2020—the largest annual increase on record. Despite the skyrocketing rate of gun violence, a new CAP analysis released today finds that the media has failed to adequately highlight guns as the true driver of rising violent crime in its coverage.

For example, the analysis finds: 

  • Only 3.5 percent of stories from news outlets that mention “homicides” or “murders” in their headlines or metadata also mentioned the word “gun” or a synonymous variation over the past year.
  • In the year preceding the Uvalde, Texas, shooting, only 8 percent of online stories in popular mainstream outlets mentioning “murders” or “homicides” in their headline or metadata include any mention of “guns” or similar variation in their headline or metadata.
  • Only 11 percent of online stories in mainstream outlets mentioning a “rise” or “increase” in “violent crime” in their headline or metadata include any mention of guns.
  • Guns were only mentioned within 15 seconds of the mention of “homicides” 29 percent of the time on major cable news networks, including 48 percent on CNN, 15 percent on Fox News, and 62 percent on MSNBC.

“Newsrooms have a responsibility to fairly and accurately report on these issues, and they should not take for granted that their audiences build gun violence into their assumptions about violent crime,” said Will Ragland, senior director of the Advocacy team at CAP and author of the analysis. “The public needs to understand that gun violence is the primary driver of violent crime, and policymakers at all levels of government must strengthen gun laws, which evidence shows can reverse this trend.”

Click here to read:Media Coverage Often Ignore Guns as the Main Driver of the Recent Rise in Violent Crime” by Will Ragland

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Tricia Woodcome at twoodcome@americanprogress.org.