US presidential race issues: Crime and gun violence

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Election Issues of 2016: Crime


No one is a big fan of crime. That's why presidential candidates spend a lot of time talking about it during election season.

"And then you found out, there's tremendous crime, there's tremendous drugs pouring across the border," Donald Trump said during a recent campaign speech in Los Angeles.

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(MAIN) 2016 issues: Guns, domestic violence, rape, death sentences
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US presidential race issues: Crime and gun violence
People hold up signs as they attend a rally against gun violence, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 08: A makeshift memorial is shown along the sidewalk in the Lawndale neighborhood where a 22-year-old man was shot and killed over the Labor Day weekend on September 8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The murder was one of nine reported in Chicago over the long weekend, with another 46 shot and wounded. Many major U.S. cities, including Chicago, are experiencing a surge in homicides and other violent crimes this year. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 10: Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va., speaks during a rally on the East Front lawn of the Capitol to demand that Congress take action on gun control legislation, September 10, 2015. Andy Parker, far right, whose daughter Alison, a reporter for WDBJ-TV reporter, was killed on air last month, looks on. The event, titled #Whateverittakes Day of Action, was hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety and featured speeches by political leaders and families of gun violence victims. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
A demonstrator helps hold a large "Come and Take It" banner at a rally in support of open carry gun laws at the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Signs are viewed on the outside wall of Roanoke Firearms on August 28, 2015, in Roanoke, Virginia. With mass shootings seemingly on a daily basis, it appears no place in the United States is safe from carnage: not churches, not schools, not even the morning newscast.The shocking on-air murder of a young reporter and a cameraman by a disgruntled former colleague August 26, 2015 has once again renewed calls for stricter gun controls.That is simply not going to happen, experts said, and the trend in recent years has actually gone in the opposite direction.'You can't get rid of them,' Harry Wilson, a professor at Roanoke College in Virginia -- near the scene of the latest shooting -- told AFP. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
The Big Boyz Gun store is seen August 28, 2015, in Blue Ridge, Virginia. With mass shootings seemingly on a daily basis, it appears no place in the United States is safe from carnage: not churches, not schools, not even the morning newscast.The shocking on-air murder of a young reporter and a cameraman by a disgruntled former colleague August 26, 2015 has once again renewed calls for stricter gun controls.That is simply not going to happen, experts said, and the trend in recent years has actually gone in the opposite direction.'You can't get rid of them,' Harry Wilson, a professor at Roanoke College in Virginia -- near the scene of the latest shooting -- told AFP. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 21: Police cordon off the scene in lower Manhattan where two people were shot at the Federal Immigration Court on August 21, 2015 in New York City. One man was killed and another injured in the late afternoon shooting. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Gun rights lobbyists and gun owners rally in support of concealed carry gun legislation in front of the Illinois State Capitol March 5, 2014 in Springfield Ill. Supporters hold their first rally since concealed carry legislation was passed, and within days of the first permits being issued in Illinois, gun rights advocates are expected to be in a celebratory mood, outlining efforts to tweak current concealed carry legislation, and work against any efforts to implement an assault weapons ban. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
CENTENNIAL, CO - JULY 16: Tom Teves, the father of Aurora shooting victim Alex Teves, is iterviewed after a verdict was delivered in the trial of James Holmes at the Arapahoe County Justice Center on July 16, 2015 in Centennial, Colorado. Holmes was found guilty on all counts in the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo by Theo Stroomer/Getty Images)
C-Jay, right, who was shot in the back, his mother, second from right, Rosa, 7, center and Arla Graham, 10, of the Brooklyn participate in a rally at City Hall park during the third annual Brooklyn bridge march and rally to end gun violence Saturday, May 9, 2015, in New York. Organizers said the proliferation of guns results in an average of more than 80 deaths a day across the country. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
FILE - In this April 18, 2013 file photo, community gun safety advocates and members of the public hold signs during a rally and vigil to honor victims of gun violence, sponsored by Colorado Ceasefire, on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol, in Denver. When a gunman opened fire inside a packed movie theater in July of 2012, killing 12, it helped revive the national debate over gun control. But, as the trial of theater shooter James Holmes is scheduled to begin Monday, April 27, 2015, Colorado’s gun debate has quieted down. “It’s in a sort of gridlock,” said nonpartisan Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)
Conley Hennigan wears a holstered banana with "glock" written on it, during a rally in support of open carry gun laws at the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
FILE - In this March 4, 2013 file photo, opponents of proposed gun control bills being considered by the Colorado Legislature hold signs to those passing in cars, in front of the State Capitol, in Denver. When a gunman opened fire inside a packed movie theater in July of 2012, killing 12, it helped revive the national debate over gun control. But, as the trial of theater shooter James Holmes is scheduled to begin Monday, April 27, 2015, Colorado’s gun debate has quieted down. “It’s in a sort of gridlock,” said nonpartisan Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)
People calling for gun control demonstrate on a street a few blocks away from the site of the National Rifle Association convention Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, whose daughter was killed in the 2012 theater shootings in Aurora Colo., and Annette Holt, right, who lost her son Blair to gun violence, speak in support of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, left, as he is endorsed by the Gun Violence Prevention Political Action Committee and the national Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, in Chicago. The groups were joined by families of gun violence as Quinn continues to battle for votes in a tight race against Republican opponent Bruce Rauner. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Gun-rights activists celebrate Patriots' Day at the steps of the Utah capital in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 19, 2014. The rally focused on supporting the Second Amendment right to own firearms. About a dozen of the attendees carried long rifles and assault weapons, while a few others had holstered pistols. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Sharon Mausey sells hats and shirts supporting concealed carry gun legislation to gun rights lobbyists and gun owners at the Prairie Capitol Convention Center Wednesday, March 5, 2014 in Springfield Ill. Participants will march through Springfield to the state Capitol's for a rally before lobbying various representatives. It's the first rally since concealed carry legislation was passed, and within days of the first permits being issued in Illinois. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 20: About 1,000 people participate in the March for Black Lives in support of the nine people shot to death at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church earlier this week and for others killed by police violence June 20, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Suspect Dylann Roof, 21, was arrested and charged in the killing of nine people during a prayer meeting in the church, one of the nation's oldest black churches in the South. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
In this Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015 photo, mourners hold candles at a vigil on Nevada Capitol grounds in Carson City, Nev., honoring fallen Carson City deputy Carl Howell. Howell was killed earlier Saturday after a shootout during a domestic violence call. The suspect in the confrontation died on the scene. (AP Photo/Michelle Rindels)
Sherwood Police Lt. Jamie Michaels, left, and Detective Heather Meadows read accounts of domestic violence placed on painted cutouts after a news conference at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Monday, July 20, 2015. Arkansas lawmakers Monday said measures approved by the Legislature earlier this year are aimed at preventing domestic violence and helping victims. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
A woman protests against domestic violence as she joins other women's rights advocates in an International Women's Day march in downtown Los Angeles, California on March 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPT 15: Beth Ferrier of Denver wipes away a tear as she listens to testimony from other women who describe being victims of sexual assault. Ferrier, along with Helen Hayes from Morin County, CA, left, and Heidi Thomas, far right, say they were victims of assault by Bill Cosby. They sit at a table with Rep. Rhonda Fields, second from right. Accusers in the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby join Rep. Rhonda Fields in a stakeholders meeting inside the Colorado State Capitol in Denver to discuss a bill written by Fields to abolish the Statute of Limitations in sexual assault crimes and cases. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Tobias Summers sits in court before the verdict is read at Los Angeles Superior Court Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. Summers has been found guilty of repeatedly raping a 10-year-old girl after kidnapping her at knifepoint from her Los Angeles bedroom before letting her go and fleeing to Mexico. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Looking in the direction of the victim's family, former St. Paul's School student Owen Labrie, right, enters the courtroom with his defense attorney J.W. Carney for closing remarks in Labrie's rape trial at Merrimack Superior Court Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, in Concord, N.H. Labrie is charged with raping a 15-year-old freshman as part of Senior Salute, in which seniors try to romance and have intercourse with underclassmen before leaving the prestigious St. Paul's School in Concord. The defense contends the two had consensual sexual contact but not intercourse. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter, Pool)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, responsible for Boston Marathon bombing, was sentenced to death on May 15, 2015.

(AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Investigation, File)

Neb. state Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha smiles during a debate before lawmakers gave final approval to a bill abolishing the death penalty with enough votes to override a promised veto from Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts. The 32-15 vote on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in Lincoln, Neb., was bolstered by conservative senators who oppose capital punishment for fiscal, religious and pragmatic reasons. on a bill to abolish the death penalty. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Colorado theater shooter James Holmes is led out of the courtroom after being formally sentenced on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015 in Centennial, Colo. Holmes was sentenced to life in prison without parole by Judge Carlos Samour Jr. Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others in the July 20, 2012 ambush. (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via AP, Pool)
District Attorney George Brauchler, backed by the families of those killed and wounded, speaks with members of the media after Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes was formally sentenced, outside Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo., Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. Holmes was sentenced to multiple life sentences without parole for perpetrating the July 20, 2012 attack that left 12 dead and 70 wounded. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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And yet, crime ranks very low among issues Americans consider most important. Nationally, violent crime rates are actually much lower than they've been in the past — even if more Americans believe the crime rate is up compared to last year.

Still, crimes, and what happens to criminals, continue to capture our attention. And while overall, crime may be down, the U.S. still leads the world in mass shootings — with an average of more than one a day so far in 2015.



Gun crimes are tricky territory for politicians. Generally, Democrats want more gun controls, while Republicans want to leave them alone or have fewer restrictions.

"And there is so much evidence that if guns were not so readily available ... then maybe we could prevent this kind of carnage," Hillary Clinton told supporters while in Ankeny, Iowa.

"I do not support any proposed gun control which would limit the right to gun ownership," Sen. Rand Paul said in a campaign ad.


As far as punishment for criminals goes, American voters generally support the death penalty in certain situations. A Gallup poll found that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to support it.
One of the most controversial aspects of the death penalty is how it's carried out.

Executions using lethal injection were botched in Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona and led critics to challenge the method.

"I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault," Clinton said during a campaign ad.

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Violence against women has become another campaign issue for some candidates. Sexual assault on school campuses has increasingly become a national issue. And sexual assault in the military is another topic some candidates are talking about.

While crime itself will probably always be a talking point during elections, debates are more likely to highlight specific issues such as the death penalty or gun control.

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