Surprise: Murders in Chicago at lowest level in nearly 50 years!


You may have heard or read today that there was a rash of shootings in Chicago over the weekend, and at least seven people were killed (HERE).

But you probably have not heard something Chicago Police spokesman Adam Collins SAID this morning:

While we’ve had fewer murders to date this year than any year since the mid-1960s, there’s more work to be done and we won’t rest until everyone in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety.

Did you get that? Fewer murders to date this year than any year since the mid-1960s.

How can that be? How do we reconcile that with what the politicians and the media and the pathological Chicago-haters have been telling us. Chicago is supposed to be the murder capital of America, isn’t it?

Well, perhaps it’s supposed to be, to hear some people tell it. But the reality is something else, as we see HERE:

Both the mainstream media and the right-wing echo chamber repeat persistent lies about Chicago’s gun crime. Whether intentionally or negligently, the media continues to perpetuate false statements about guns and homicides in Chicago and those falsehoods get repeated uncritically through blogs and social media on a daily basis. Regardless of one’s position on issues like gun control, it is important that when Chicago is used as an example, that all parties to the debate have the correct facts at their disposal….

In an article titled “Deadly Distinction: Chicago Has the Highest Murder Rate in the U.S.,”  BET News perpetuated the myth that Chicago has the highest murder rate in the United States. The article went on to state “It’s well-known that gun violence is an issue for many inner cities across the U.S. But Chicago, in particular, has the most alarming rates, almost double that of New York City.” But then the article compared Chicago to only one city, New York City. Based on that single comparison they concluded that Chicago has the highest murder rate in the nation.

Sure, they were probably repeating what has been repeated over and over in the media, but a simple fact check of FBI crime statistics that are publicly available would reveal over two dozen cities with higher homicide rate’s than Chicago’s rate of 15.9 murders per 100,000 residents. Chicago is not even close to having the highest rate for murders. Of cities over 100,000 population, Chicago does not even crack the top 25. It ends up in 26th place. If you include all of the cities above 40,000 that the FBI keeps homicide data for, Chicago winds up ranking 41st, a far cry from number one.

Indeed, even if Chicago doubled its homicide total it still would have finished with a lower murder rate than nine US cities including Camden, New Orleans, Flint, Detroit, Gary (IN), York (PA), St. Louis, Newark and Wilmington (DE). The top four cities (Camden, New Orleans, Flint and Detroit) had homicide rates that were more than triple Chicago’s rate, and cities like Ft. Myers, Florida and Gulfport, Mississippi that receive very little media attention had homicide rates that were considerably higher than Chicago’s rate of 15.9 per 100,000. I guess saying Chicago is number 41 would not have the same ominous ring to it.

On April 10, 2013 CNN Health’s Jen Christensen wrote an article titled “Chicago’s record murder rate: Don’t blame guns alone.”…[T]he title and the text implied that Chicago had a record murder rate in 2012. Where this myth originated is not clear…

The 506 homicides Chicago recorded in 2012 did not even approach the city record. In 1974, Chicago had 970 homicides, nearly double the total in 2012. Every year from 1970 to 2003 and the year 2008 all exceeded the 2012 homicide total in Chicago. Reporting a homicide rate that is just barely over half the record rate as a record is irresponsible journalism. We would not tolerate CNN’s weather page calling a 75 degree July day in Phoenix a record high, so why should we tolerate such blatant misreporting of Chicago’s homicide statistics?



  1. Camden has 77,000 people- Chicago has 2.7 million- how odd that you accuse others of “unfair comparisons”

  2. jojo: You just don’t get it, do you?

    Murder rates are calculated on a per-capita basis. The fact is that the average resident of Camden is at greater risk of being murdered than the average resident of Chicago.

    By the same token, the city in which I live — Rockford, Il — had a higher per-capita homicide rate than New York City in 2011. Yes, we had far fewer murders here than New York did, but we have a much smaller population. The truth is that the average Rockford resident was at greater risk of being murdered than the average New York resident.

  3. Brian Opsahl

    Folks from the wrong side will loose a talking point….thats what they are really saying…wink,wink

  4. Who cares whether Chicago has the highest murder rate among US cities? 500 deaths is still a horrific number. You do raise a good point about smaller cities with higher murder rates getting less media attention. However, on the flip side, I am sick of the exaggerated coverage of the recent Santa Monica shootings in which four died. That was tragic, yes, but it’s reported way out of proportion to, as you might point out, the ongoing slaughter in Camden, New Orleans, Flint and Detroit — and yes, Chicago.

  5. Tom Mannis: Most crimes receive “exaggerated coverage” from the media, which is why the American public always thinks that crime rates are higher than they actually are.

    My purpose in publishing this post was merely to point out that the murder rate in Chicago, while tragically too high, is nowhere near as high as some people make it out to be.

  6. expdoc

    Just think where Chicago’s murder rate would be if they didn’t have such effective gun control laws.


  7. doc: What a dimwit you are! My post above clearly illustrates with official statistics that homicide numbers in Chicago this year are near a 50-year-low, and last year’s numbers were lower than those for most major American cities. Indeed, among cities with populations over 40,000, Chicago ranked 41st in murders last year.

    And yet you link to a piece that says murders in Chicago are “skyrocketing” and begins with this pile of crap: “‘Chicago finished out 2012 with a bang, as it passed a major milestone hitting over 500 murders. Chicago has started off 2013 on the wrong foot, with this past week’s murder rate outpacing 2012’s.”

    That s0-called “major milestone” in Chicago homicides last year was actually about half the number of murders 38 years earlier. The homicide trend in Chicago has been downward in the past 10 years.l

    How dumb can you get, doc?

    I guess the facts mean nothing to you or to the knuckle-dragging gun nuts who published that nonsense to which you linked.

  8. It appears the actual statistics support the gun control measures in place in Chicago, exdoc.

    Let’s review the history: Homicides steadily going down… gun control laws steadily becoming more rational – I mean strict – so hooray for effective policy, right?

    Now we just need more federal resources available to prosecute gun crimes under federal law, where the penalties are far more severe.

    Anyone have examples of how guns in Chicago may have PREVENTED homicides? Or is that just another NRA canard? My guess is that guns in Chicago homes cause many more accidental deaths than homicides they prevent, same as everywhere else.

  9. You’ve done it again, Luke. Good work.

  10. expdoc

    From the same link-

    “A nice contrast to Chicago for a natural experiment is Houston. Houston is very similar to Chicago in terms of socioeconomic factors such as population, density, and segregation. Houston, like Chicago, is a major center for illegal activities such as the drug trade and human trafficking. Despite all this, Houston has a murder rate two-thirds that of Chicago. This is because the people of Houston are well armed, while innocents in Chicago have been condemned to be sitting ducks.

    Chicago has a geographical divide, with most affluent people who reside on the north side of the city surrounding the CTA’s Red and Brown lines refusing to cross into the crime-ridden neighborhoods on the south and west sides. In 2010, Chicago native and rapper Lupe Fiasco agreed with Bill O’Reilly’s controversial statement that certain parts of the city more closely resemble Haiti than the rest of the city.”

  11. exdoc, that article has been shown to be nothing but specious propoganda. A squirrel collection, as it were.

    I don’t believe their numbers about Chicago or Houston, or even trust their ability to accurately quote the (aptly named) Ms. Fiasco.

    Why can’t you acknowledge the clear correlation between falling homicide rates and stricter gun laws in Chicago? Too straightforward for you?

  12. Craig Knauss

    FYI doc, I lived in Oak Park, just four blocks from Chicago’s dangerous Austin district from 1974 t0 1976. And yes, Chicago had 970 murders in 1974. That was BEFORE Chicago had effective gun control. Last year was a bad year for murders in Chicago. They had 503, I believe. That’s still 48% less than in 1974.

    The local rightwing gun nuts around here keep saying that D.C., Chicago, and NYC are the three most dangerous cities in the U.S. I’ve have pointed out repeatedly that that is total BS. In the FBI’s large city category, D.C. was about 5th, Chicago was about 15th, and NYC was down around 43rd. The 4 cities ahead of D.C. do not have gun control. 13 of the cities ahead of Chicago do not have gun control. And more than 40 of the cities ahead of NYC do not have gun control. And for doc’s info, the murder rate in Houston is only slightly lower than Chicago’s and almost all of Texas’ large cities rank ahead of NYC for highest murder rates despite being in gun-crazy Texas.

    Per http://www.policymic.com/articles/22686/america-s-10-deadliest-cities-2012 the ten deadliest U.S. cities for 2012 are: Flint, MI, Detroit, New Orleans’ St. Louis, Baltimore, Birmingham, Newark, Oakland, Baton Rouge, Cleveland, and Memphis, none of which have any effective gun control.

    BTW, I’ve been in most of those dangerous cities and have never needed a gun for protection, including 27 years in the Chicago area.

  13. doc seems to subscribe to the theory that Houston has a lower murder than Chicago “because the people of Houston are well armed, while innocents in Chicago have been condemned to be sitting ducks.”

    Ah, but New York City, which has tougher gun laws than Chicago — and far tougher than Houston — has a murder rate about half that of Houston. And the mayor of New York is the notoriously anti-gun Michael Bloomberg.

    Damn facts keep getting in your way, don’t they, doc? You’re so eager to cast Chicago (or any city with gun control) as an unlivable city that’s been ruined by gun-grabbers, and it just isn’t working out for you, is it?

  14. Robert

    Why is everybody dancing around the obvious. The overwhelming majority of those murders and shootings in Chicago and even Rockford are Black on Black gang related crimes. Take those stats out of the murder rates and it would be much less.

    And Patrick, thanks for admitting Rockford is a dangerous place in so many words. The crime in that city is most likely the biggest factor in why property values are low and why recruiting businesses to locate in Rockford isn’t doing so well.

  15. Craig Knauss


    It looks like some of the FBI data has been updated and the rankings have shifted a little bit. Houston is at about 9 murders per 100,000 and Chicago is at about 15. But Chicago is still well down on the list and just slightly ahead of doc’s Milwaukee which is still at 14 murders per 100,000 despite the absence of gun control. Also, NYC’s rate is about half of Buffalo’s rate, even though they’re in the same state.

    I used to travel through Chicago’s south side frequently and never had a problem. And I used to do shop inspections in Gary, IN. That place is grim. So is Newark and south Philly.

  16. One other thing about this stuff, doc, in case you hadn’t noticed: Homicide rates in Chicago have pretty steadily declined with the advent of gun control.

    Meanwhile, New Orleans, where gun control is extremely lax, has a homicide rate triple that of Chicago.

    And then there was this paragraph from a piece in the Washington Post this past December:

    “Last year, economist Richard Florida dove deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths. The disclaimer here is that correlation is not causation. But correlations can be suggestive.”

    Your serve, doc. But be warned: I’m ready for most anything you can come up with.

  17. Brian Opsahl

    I spend alot of my vacation time in northern Wisconsin…. and sometimes we end up in a bar or two…most of the bars we go to are in the fall fishing season that has alot of deer hunters hanging out…as they have more to drink and they get a little rowdy almost evertime one of them will say ….”you do that again and im going to my truck” meaning he’s going to get his gun….most of time nothing more happens…but just the fact that a drunk can walk out to his truck to get his rifle is dissturbing….that is when we usually leave anyway.

  18. Carol Datt Mattar

    Like Craig Knauss, I live in Oak Park and am sick of gun lovers’ blather about Chicago shootings in spite of what they call the strictest gun laws in the country. However accurate that it is, the fact is that Chicago is surrounded by places (Indiana, for example) that do not have strict gun laws. If you can’t buy a gun in Chicago, you only have to drive a short distance to somewhere that will happily sell you as many as you want.

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