Musings on crime rates

I stumbled across this document at googlebooks while looking for something else and that got me thinking:

“While he was Attorney General, Homer Cummings pronounced Washington’s crime record a national disgrace. That view reflected not a vague impression but actual data gathered by the Department of Justice for July-September, 1937. Of ninety three cities of more than a hundred thousand population the capital took a conspicuous place among the 10 per cent with the most crime. It was third in major thefts, fifth in burglaries and housebreaking, seventh in robberies, eighth in aggravated assault, and tenth in murder and nonnegligent manslaughter.”

Merlo J. Pusey
Forum and Century, Volume 102 (1939)
Edited By Henry Goddard Leach

I wondered what the comparative crime rates are today. Turns out it’s a bit hard to control apples to apples here, because D.C. has changed its houseing situation and borders somewhat (according to one article I read), and because different crime fighting orgs count up the crime figures differently.

It’s hard to find statistics comparing precisely the same sort of thing, but what I’ve read is that violent crime is still more than three times the national average in D.C. It was once the murder capital, but that hadn’t been true for a few years. A couple years ago, it wasn’t even in the top 10. That has changed in the last couple of years and murders are going up in D.C. even as they are going down in other areas.

The availability of guns in other places (they are mostly not legal in D.C.) is supposed to be some to be one of the reasons:

“New York City and Chicago are both places with extremely strict gun laws, but guns pour and pour into Illinois,” said Grawert. “Most Illinois crime guns come from Indiana, which is a state with really lax gun laws. It’s not that gun control doesn’t work, it’s that if you place a strict gun law city in the middle of a lax gun law region, you’re going to get very different results.”

This doesn’t make sense to me, because if it were the guns, then the crime rates in Indiana would be just as high as they are in Chicago. Gary, Indiana is a pretty rough town and has high murder rates, but the rest of Indiana seems to manage proximity to guns without the same callous disregard for human life we see in the murder stats of Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Flint, Philadelphia and other places in the top ten. Within the state of Indiana, why is Gary the worst? It’s clearly not just proximity to guns. It is only 25 miles from downtown Chicago, though.

Crime statistics are odd, too. I found Elkhart in the top 30 list of nationwide murder rates on one website, but it didn’t even make the top ten for another website that tracked murder rates in Indiana cities only.

No solid conclusion here, except that I just don’t see the logic in saying a city with strict gun control but high gum crime rates is that way because of lax gun control in a border state. It’s like saying the kids in the blue house keep breaking windows with baseball bats even though the parents have banned baseball bats, and it’s because the parents in the red house next door where the windows are all intact let their kids have baseball bats. IT’s obvious there that the largest issue is not the bats. It’s the people wielding them.

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