Violent crimes committed with firearms in Florida exploded last year while the state’s overall crime rate dipped slightly, says the Orlando Sentinel. Murders statewide totaled 1,129, a 28 percent increase from a year earlier. The number of slayings with a firearm soared 42 percent. Robberies climbed 13.4 percent and those with a gun rose 20 percent, the data show. “This is not good, to put it mildly,” said University of Central Florida sociologist Jay Corzine, who has been studying the region’s rising violence. “That’s just a huge increase, comparatively.”
This comes one year after then-Gov. Jeb Bush attributed Florida’s declining crime rate to gun ownership. Arthur Hayhoe of the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence blames the skyrocketing statistics on the accessibility of guns — both legally and illegally. Law-enforcement officials in Orange County attribute much of last year’s violence to street criminals and drug dealers with guns. “Several gun stores have been robbed here and in the county, and they’re being stolen from people’s cars and homes,” Orlando police Sgt. Barbara Jones said.