And They Tell Me You Are Brutal

Chicago has been a bloody place lately. Over the Fourth of July weekend, there were 82 shootings, 16 of which were lethal.

The reflex of the Left, as always, is to call for more (and in keeping with the relentless impulse of both the Left and of democracies generally, more centralized) government control. Here’s the Washington Post:

It is innocent people in these cities and countless other localities marked by gun violence who must bear the consequences of Congress’s abdication on gun control.

Chicago already has highly restrictive gun laws, including a complete ban on firearm sales within the city limits. This awkward fact leads gun restrictionists to put the blame on looser gun laws in neighboring communities. One must ask, however: if that’s the problem, then why don’t those communities have anything close to Chicago’s gun-crime rates?

In Chicago, a city of 2.7 million people, fewer than 8,000 people are licensed to own a gun – less than 0.3%. The city’s gun-homicide rate is about 18 per 100,000. In Vermont, by contrast, where 42% of the population are gun owners, the rate of gun murders in 2010 was 0.3 per 100,000. So Chicago has a gun-homicide rate about 60 times Vermont’s, despite Vermonters being 150 times as likely to own a gun. To put that another way, in Chicago the ratio of the gun-homicide rate to the percentage of citizens who legally own guns is nine thousand times higher than it is in Vermont.

That is not a small discrepancy. You can draw your own conclusions — demographics might be of interest, if one is looking for sturdier correlations — but it’s awfully hard to make the case that guns themselves are the root cause here, or that further restrictions of the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens elsewhere in the country are going to solve Chicago’s problem.

Policing — obviously! — matters, and there have been changes since Rahm Emanuel took office as Mayor. Read about them here.

In 1914, one century ago, Carl Sandburg wrote a poem about Chicago. In the present context, one line stands out:

And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.

In that same year Chicago recorded 217 homicides overall, out of a population of roughly 2.4 million. That’s a rate of 9 per 100,000, and it includes all the ways a person can commit murder. This is half the current rate of gun homicide in Chicago. In 1914, there were no gun laws whatsoever.

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  1. Bill says

    Emmanuel Rahm is just like his former boss–determined to destroy the current government structure. The destruction of police efficiency had to be deliberate. A lack of law and order provides an opportunity for martial law and federal takeover. None of this is accidental.

    Posted July 10, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink
  2. JK says


    Crap! Looking for gun crime in Iowa … well, Iowa lacks the gun law Chicago has.

    Still. What does it take for the most “gun crime”

    Pretty simple actually, more gun statutes!

    Posted July 11, 2014 at 1:09 am | Permalink
  3. RKV says

    3% of the US population commit 40% of all murders. Guess which 3% that is? If the 3% committed murder at the same rate as the rest of the population which European country would the US average be similar to? You do the math.

    Posted July 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink
  4. RKV says

    Answer: Finland
    rate/100,000 about 1.7

    2012 US rate (total)
    about 4.6 per 100,000

    Posted July 12, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink
  5. DJ says


    If you remove black and Hispanic perpetrators from the statistical data, then the murder rate in the USA would be that of Finland.

    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:39 pm | Permalink