Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Milwaukee may surpass Chicago's murder rate, despite concealed carry promises

Homicide rates increase in Milwaukee, decrease in Chicago.

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about growing violence in the state of Wisconsin after a controversial concealed carry law was passed.

While it isn’t clear whether the concealed carry law itself contributed to the rise in crime, it is clear that the promises made -- including some that insisted crime would decrease as a result of the law -- were false. Indeed, when Gov. Scott Walker signed the law in late 2011, he said that:
By signing concealed carry into law, we are making Wisconsin safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens.
In the year that followed, violent crime increased by 18 percent per 100,000 citizens in Wisconsin. The homicide rate on its own increased by 26 percent in 2012.

In Milwaukee, the number of murders also increased from 2011 to 2012, albeit at a smaller rate change. Homicides in the city increased by more than six percent in the year after concealed carry was passed in the state.

The results of this research were only for one full year of Wisconsin homicides under concealed carry. But as we enter the next year, we’re beginning to see that these trends may permeate through the years to come as well.

2013, the second full year of concealed carry, also saw an increase in crime within Milwaukee -- and with it, an increase in homicides.

Unofficially, Milwaukee saw 102 murders in 2013. Assuming that its population stayed the same size (or relatively close) to its 2012 numbers, that would mean Wisconsin’s largest city saw 17.01 murders per 100,000 citizens -- a rate that’s higher than its 2012 homicide rate of 15.18.

Chicago, meanwhile, saw a very bad 2012, and many media outlets dubbed it the new “murder capital of the U.S.” This was an erroneous moniker, however, because it disregarded murder rates and focused solely on raw numbers.

While Chicago’s 500 murders in 2012 did make it the highest city in total homicides reported, its murder rate per 100,000 was far below several other major cities, including St. Louis, Birmingham, Little Rock, and New Orleans.

In 2013, however, Chicago had a miniature “turnaround.” While its total number of murders is high, at 412 it’s still a significant drop from the year before, and the lowest number of murders the city has seen in over 40 years.

* Rates if population numbers hold steady
If the number of homicides is accurate, and the population of the city remains the same, Chicago will see its 2013 murder rate decrease to 15.21 per 100,000, down from 18.46 the year before.

Comparing the numbers between Milwaukee and Chicago shows that the two cities have swapped places in 2013 (again, if populations of both cities hold steady).

If the numbers hold true, Milwaukee will have an estimated rate of homicide that is 1.8 persons per 100,000 greater than Chicago’s, meaning that you’re more likely to be murdered in Wisconsin’s largest municipality than you are in Illinois’s largest city.

Again, the data here does not necessarily translate towards any definitive effect that concealed carry itself (nor any other policy for that matter) increased crime in the state or in Milwaukee. What it does show, however, is two straight years of homicide rate increases for the city, which is inconsistent with the view that concealed carry made our state safer.

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