More than 24,000 Americans were murdered in the United States last year, more than in any other year in the nation's history, a study by Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats showed.
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., chairman of the committee, said Monday President Bush has done too little "to fight this epidemic - an epidemic that may claim 100,000 lives under his administration."The report said Utah had 52 homicides in 1991, an 18 percent increase over 1990.
The report blamed the increase on hard-core drug addiction, the availability of high-powered weapons and the rising number of violent youths joining gangs and participating in other criminal activities.
Biden said that with the administration's support a major anti-crime bill could be sent to the White House in the first days of the session.
Although the House approved the bill late last year, it was stopped in the Senate by a session-ending filibuster because it included a waiting period for the purchase of a handgun. The bill did not include a ban on semi-automatic weapons.
"The toll in human suffering is too great to delay any longer," Biden said in a cover letter. "The violent trends that are killing our neighbors, our children, our friends and family must be reversed - or else we will face yet another grim record-setting year in the 12 months ahead."
The report said that on the basis of the latest information from state and local officials showed that 24,020 Americans were murdered in 1991.
"Thus, it seems that our nation's second consecutive murder record year ended just days ago," Biden said, "A year which saw the rest of the world become safer for America saw this nation become less safe for its own citizens."
The three factors cited - drugs, weapons and violent youths - "show no sign of declining and, in fact, some signs indicate that these problems are actually accelerating.
"Unless we embark on a major offensive against drugs, deadly weapons and violent young criminals now, the rercord carnage will continue to skyrocket in the days, months and years ahead," Biden said.
The report disclosed that the 24,020 murders last year compared with 23,438 the year before; that the national murder rate has soared by more than 25 percent from 1985 to 1991; and the average citizen is twice as likely to be killed as he was 30 years ago.