America anguished during the Persian Gulf crisis over the possibility that many of its men and women would return home from that conflict in body bags. Yet, public debate rarely focuses on the fact that every day, in this country, almost 65 Americans get put in body bags -- casualties of the crisis in our streets.
A new FBI report documents a staggering degree of carnage: In 1990, the FBI found, approximately 23,600 Americans were murdered; more than 100,000 American women were raped, 642,000 Americans were robbed and more than 1 million were victims of aggravated assault. Worse, violent crime is increasing; the newest numbers represent the biggest rise in murder, rape, robbery and assault since 1986.
Sadly, America has now become a more dangerous place than virtually any other industrialized country -- more violent, indeed, than almost any other place outside a war zone. And the violence is widespread: Though one-quarter of all murders last year occurred in cities, for example, the biggest jump in murder rates -- 21 percent -- was in towns with fewer than 10,000 people.