By: Keith BrekhusJul. 11th, 2013
Despite the familiar media refrain that Chicago is the nation’s murder capital, the “windy city” does not even qualify as one of the nation’s top 25 most dangerous cities for homicide. Yes, in sheer numbers Chicago leads the nation’s cities in murders, but its per capita murder rate is lower than forty other cities with populations above 40,000 residents. In 2011, the last year where records have been tabulated to compare cities, according to FBI statistics, Chicago, with a per capita murder rate of 15.9/per 100,000 residents, ranked behind over three dozen other American cities.
In 2011, the city’s murder rate was less than half that of the cities of New Orleans (57.6/per 100,00), Detroit (48.2) and St. Louis (35.3). Chicago’s homicide rate was also lower than such unremarkable cities as Ft. Myers, FL (31.7) Pine Bluff, AR (24.3), Dayton, OH (23.3) Rocky Mount, NC (20.6), Gulfport, MS (17.6) and Harrisburg, PA (16.1). Although Chicago has a reputation for being a deadly city, a resident’s odds of being murdered there in a given year are about 1 in 6250. By comparison, a New Orleans resident has roughly a 1 in 1750 chance of being killed in a homicide over a twelve month period. Thus, a New Orleans resident is more than three times as likely to become a murder victim in his hometown than a resident of Chicago.
Gun control opponents have often seized on Chicago as their example to “prove” that gun control is a total failure, by repeating the false claim that it has the nation’s highest murder rate. While Chicago is indeed a relatively violent city, the fact that it ranks behind a number of other cities with more relaxed gun laws, at least calls into question the logic of that argument. In addition, it should be noted that Chicago’s record year for homicides was 1974 when they had 970 murders, well above the total of 506 recorded last year.