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President Donald Trump repeated a debunked claim about the US murder rate on Tuesday, incorrectly telling a group of sheriffs that the country’s murder rate was at its highest point in 47 years.
“The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right?” Trump said at a White House meeting with members of the National Sheriffs Association, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Did you know that? Forty-seven years. I used to use that — I’d say that in a speech and everybody was surprised. Because the press 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, from 45 to 47 years.”
FBI statistics show that the US murder rate in 2015 — the most recent year with available statistics — was 4.9 per 100,000 people. That’s one of the lowest rates ever. The murder rate was that year less than half of the nation’s peak rate of 10.2 in 1980, or its second-worst year, 1991, when the rate was 9.8.
The 2015 murder rate was also notably lower than it was between 1996 and 2009, when it descended from 7.4 to 5.0.
Now, the 2015 figure did mark a slight uptick from the year before, jumping from a record-low 4.4 to 4.9. That marked an increase of about 11%, and was the highest one-year increase of the murder rate in 50 years. But the murder rate was still considerably lower than in previous decades.
As some reporters have noted, Trump may be confusing that one-year increase with the actual murder rate — but they’re not the same thing.
Trump frequently misstated the murder rate as a candidate on the campaign trail, and has repeated the falsehood since winning the election in November.