Saturday, November 2, 2013

Despite gun advocates' claims, Chicago is NOT the "murder capital of the U.S."

Murder rates indicate Chicago is a safer city than several other cities

The finer points:
  • Chicago is not the “murder capital” of the country
  • Many other metropolitan areas, with looser gun laws, have much higher murder rates than Chicago
  • Gun advocates are wrong to correlate murders with restrictions on gun ownership

Several media outlets have recently dubbed Chicago the newest “murder capital of the U.S.” after it surpassed New York as having the most murders in the nation this past year.

Many have used this new moniker as justification to blast Chicago’s strict gun laws. They ask, how can the “murder capital” defend laws that aren’t preventing violence?

Their prescription: strip the regulations on guns, and crime will decrease.
To gun rights advocates, the city provides stark evidence that even some of the toughest restrictions fail to make places safer. “The gun laws in Chicago only restrict the law-abiding citizens and they’ve essentially made the citizens prey,” said Richard A. Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.
But that argument overlooks several significant variables. For starters, calling Chicago the most murderous city in America is a mistake. It’s not even one of the ten most-dangerous cities in the country. While Chicago may have the most murders of any jurisdiction, without context the ranking of “murder capital of the U.S.” is a misnomer.

Looking at murder rates rather than sheer numbers, several cities deserve that ranking well before Chicago, many of them in states or jurisdictions where gun laws are fairly loose.

Murder rates are more reliable to use in order to distinguish the true “murder capital” because they reflect which cities are more violent, and which have a higher proportion of murder.

The rates calculate, on a scale of 100,000 citizens, which city has the most murders. In other words, if you shrank the size of Chicago to 100,000 (and grew other cities on the list to that number), how many murders would you see on an annual basis, and how would that compare to other cities across the country?

The results may surprise you. While Chicago’s rate is still significantly high at 18.46 murders per 100,000, it’s by no means the highest rate you’ll see.

Looking around the geographic area of Chicago, it’s clear that other cities, too, aren’t faring well, even in places with less regulatory gun laws.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has a close ranking to Chicago, at a rate of 15.18. St. Louis, Missouri, is almost double of what Chicago’s rate is, at a 35.46 murder rate. And neighboring Gary, Indiana, has an astonishing rate of 45.97 murders per 100,000, a measure that’s 2.5 times higher than the Windy City.

Other areas across the nation also show higher murder rates than Chicago. In Birmingham, Alabama, a state that ranks as the 7th best state for gun owners to reside in, the murder rate is 31.41 per 100,000. Atlanta, Georgia, has a similar rate (18.99) to Chicago’s, but with much looser gun restrictions, indicating that, perhaps to the dismay of gun-rights advocates, there may be a different reason as to why Chicago’s rates are high.

Jackson, Mississippi, has a rate of 35.80, and Little Rock, Arkansas, has a higher rate also, at 22.95. Two cities in the state of Louisiana have much higher rates as well: Baton Rouge is at 28.50 murders per 100,000, and New Orleans has an astonishing rate of 53.18 -- nearly three times as high as Chicago, despite much looser gun laws.

Although naming Chicago the “murder capital of the U.S.” fits into the gun advocates’ meme of “less guns, more crime,” it is an inappropriate label to bestow upon the city. Looking at the rates of murders, Chicago is far from perfect; yet, it is much safer than several other cities with looser gun control laws.

Gun advocates overlook this, of course, because the fact that a city with gun restrictions has such high murder numbers fits into their mantra of “failure.” Yet, their notions are incorrect. Correlations do not indicate causations; and looking at the history of Chicago, murder rates have actually decreased over time since restrictive gun laws have been in place.

1 comment:

  1. Calling Chicago the most murderous city in America is a mistake. very gangerous.
    "Chicago IT"