Death & Statistics in 2015

 

shutterstock_93961822Two sets of numbers regarding violent crime have me pondering this morning.

The first set is reassuring and comes via the Washington Post’s Radley Balko. Despite all the efforts to portray the contrary — from scaremongering about terrorism, police abuse, gangs, spree-killers, etc. — 2015 will very likely be the second least violent year in the United States since it began keeping records over a century ago. Moreover, that trend was matched by stats regarding police death rates via firearms, which are also at near-record lows this year (only 2013 was better). Both of these are consistent with long-term trends.

There were some exceptions — St. Louis, Detriot, and Baltimore in particular and, to a much lesser extent, New York City — but it is wonderful news to see further confirmation that the War on Crime continues to be an enormous success while the War on Cops turned out to be a total bust. This is important and polling shows that people believe that things are actually getting worse.

The second set of numbers is unsettling, and gets at part of why discussions on violent crime often go so badly. I came by it through NRO’s David French, who linked to this WP piece, which refers, in part, to this from Brookings. From the Post:

Among whites, 77 percent of gun deaths are suicides. But among black Americans, 82 percent of gun deaths are homicides…

[Moreover,] this high homicide rate comes from a population with a much lower rate of gun ownership. Roughly “41 percent of white households own guns, compared with to just 19 percent of black households.” In other words, when it comes to guns — white and black Americans live different lives. White Americans don’t experience much criminal gun violence but have much greater experience with guns. Widespread gun ownership doesn’t lead to criminal carnage, so fear-based gun control arguments simply don’t ring true.

Though I’d wager that gun ownership among blacks is under-reported — well, more under-reported than it’s believed to be among whites or general population — I still found it a bracing way to think about the matter. One interesting side effect of the lack of fathers and positive role models among African Americans may be that it perpetuates ignorance of responsible firearm ownership. That is, if the people you encounter who own guns are overwhelmingly criminals rather than someone who takes you to the range on a Saturday if you have your homework done, it’s easy to see why guns are equated with criminality itself.

Published in Culture, Domestic Policy, Guns, Policing
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  1. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    I imagine the lower rate is correlated with incarceration rates.  Has anyone run them along with other variables we are suppose to believe?

    • #1
  2. Sowell for President Member
    Sowell for President
    @

    Yes to the very strong connection between fatherlessness and criminality. Proven over and over. Just ask your local prosecutor how many violent criminals he sees in the dock who grew up with their biological fathers in the home.

    • #2
  3. Sowell for President Member
    Sowell for President
    @

    Strong post, Tom. But for a number of reasons I wouldn’t say the War on Police has been “a total bust.” First, a number of policemen have been murdered in cold blood by hoodlums incited by the anti-police demagoguery. Second, it has been reported that some policemen are less zealous in performing their duties out of fear of being sued or criminally prosecuted while their reputations are savaged in the national media. Third, that same intimidating effect extends to the rest of us, too. I confess that I will be slower to defend myself against a “minority” assailant than a “non-minority” one. I’m not fond of the idea of being disparaged in the newspapers and sued by the surviving family.

    • #3
  4. Mike Hubbard Member
    Mike Hubbard
    @MikeHubbard

    It looks like Heather Mac Donald has a sharp critique of the Brennan Center’s stats that Balko relies on.  She wrote in the WSJ:

    [G]ood policing over the past two decades produced an extraordinary 50% drop in crime. America isn’t going to give all that back in one year. The relevant question: What is the current trend? If this year’s homicide and shooting outbreak continues, those 1990s violent crime levels will return sooner than anyone could have imagined. . . .

    Baltimore’s per capita homicide rate, for example, is now the highest in its history, according to the Baltimore Sun: 54 homicides per 100,000 residents, beating its 1993 rate of 48.8 per 100,000 residents. Shootings in Cincinnati, lethal and not, were up 30% by mid-September 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. Homicides in St. Louis were up 60% by the end of August. In Los Angeles, the police department reports that violent crime has increased 20% as of Dec. 5; there were 16% more shooting victims in the city, while arrests were down 9.5%. Shooting incidents in Chicago are up 17% through Dec. 13.

    The Brennan Center report also tries to underplay the homicide increase by folding it into crime overall. . . . The FBI’s crime index is dominated by property crimes, which outnumber offenses committed against persons by a magnitude of nearly 8 to 1.

    Her full article in City Journal isn’t online yet, alas.

    • #4
  5. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Heather Mac Donald had a piece in a recent Wall Street Journal (Trying to Hide the Rise of Violent Crime) ably debunking the Brennan Center study, which Balko considers the “most thorough” study supporting his position.  Unfortunately, Mac Donald’s article is still behind the Journal’s paywall.

    Edit: You beat me to it, Mike.  And congrats on getting through the paywall.

    • #5
  6. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Mike Hubbard: It looks like Heather Mac Donald has a sharp critique of the Brennan Center’s stats that Balko relies on. She wrote in the WSJ:

    Interesting counter, though there’s a lot of soft numbers in Mac Donald’s post. For example:

    Baltimore’s per capita homicide rate, for example, is now the highest in its history, according to the Baltimore Sun: 54 homicides per 100,000 residents, beating its 1993 rate of 48.8 per 100,000 residents. Shootings in Cincinnati, lethal and not, were up 30% by mid-September 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. Homicides in St. Louis were up 60% by the end of August. In Los Angeles, the police department reports that violent crime has increased 20% as of Dec. 5; there were 16% more shooting victims in the city, while arrests were down 9.5%. Shooting incidents in Chicago are up 17% through Dec. 13.

    Okay, so things are clearly worse in Baltimore and St. Louis (which I conceded). As for the other cities, I don’t find those numbers terribly helpful.

    For instance, take NYC, where Balko cites some interesting numbers:

    It is true that in many cities, murders in 2015 are on pace to surpass 2014 totals. In a new analysis of murder and crime rates in the country’s 30 largest cities, the Brennan Center for Justice projected that the average murder rate will be 11 percent higher this year than last. New York City, which had 333 murders in 2014, is predicted to have 357 murders by the end of 2015….

    In New York City, for example, the number of murders reached 2,245 in 1990. Even in 2010, the city logged 536 murders, or 50 percent more than this year’s projected total. This long-term decline has been well reported, but increasingly, it is getting overlooked in the rush to identify a new crime wave.

    So, looked at one way, NYC was on track to have a 7% increase in murders compared to 2014. But that’s in the context of an 85% drop from 1990 and a 33% drop from 2010. And this is in the countries’ biggest city, whose mayor is an anti-cop communist.

    I don’t have similar numbers for the other cities at hand, but I’d imagine many of them are rather similar.

    • #6
  7. Bob L Member
    Bob L
    @

    Basil Fawlty:Heather Mac Donald had a piece in a recent Wall Street Journal (Trying to Hide the Rise of Violent Crime) ably debunking the Brennan Center study, which Balko considers the “most thorough” study supporting his position. Unfortunately, Mac Donald’s article is still behind the Journal’s paywall.

    Edit: You beat me to it, Mike. And congrats on getting through the paywall.

    Just as an FYI, if you copy the address bar and search for it in google, you can circumvent the WSJ paywall and read anything you want.

    • #7
  8. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Bob L:

    Basil Fawlty:Heather Mac Donald had a piece in a recent Wall Street Journal (Trying to Hide the Rise of Violent Crime) ably debunking the Brennan Center study, which Balko considers the “most thorough” study supporting his position. Unfortunately, Mac Donald’s article is still behind the Journal’s paywall.

    Edit: You beat me to it, Mike. And congrats on getting through the paywall.

    Just as an FYI, if you copy the address bar and search for it in google, you can circumvent the WSJ paywall and read anything you want.

    Thanks, Bob.

    • #8
  9. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Think I read that if you took the murder rates of Detroit, New Orleans, Saint Louis, Newark. Philadelphia and a couple of other cities, the USA would be one of the safest places in the world.

    • #9
  10. Mike Hubbard Member
    Mike Hubbard
    @MikeHubbard

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: I don’t have similar numbers for the other cities at hand, but I’d imagine many of them are rather similar.

    Actually, Tom, crime rates vary hugely by city.  Wikipedia (I know, I know, far from perfect) has a great article here that compares crime rate per 100,000 in American cities with at least 250,000 people.  Some pulls from that chart:

    • Murder:  Chandler, Arizona (0.4) is about 100 times safer than St. Louis (49.9)
    • Auto theft: Virginia Beach (80.9) is about 20 times safer than Oakland (1,590)
    • Rape:  Bakersfield (5.7) is about 20 times safer than Anchorage (130.7)

    The real story, I think, is that some parts of America are significantly safer than others.  If you want news you can use, probably the best thing you can do to protect your family from crime is to move away from crime ridden areas.

    • #10
  11. CuriousKevmo Member
    CuriousKevmo
    @CuriousKevmo

    Mike Hubbard:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: I don’t have similar numbers for the other cities at hand, but I’d imagine many of them are rather similar.

    Actually, Tom, crime rates vary hugely by city. Wikipedia (I know, I know, far from perfect) has a great article here that compares crime rate per 100,000 in American cities with at least 250,000 people. Some pulls from that chart:

    • Murder: Chandler, Arizona (0.4) is about 100 times safer than St. Louis (49.9)
    • Auto theft: Virginia Beach (80.9) is about 20 times safer than Oakland (1,590)
    • Rape: Bakersfield (5.7) is about 20 times safer than Anchorage (130.7)

    The real story, I think, is that some parts of America are significantly safer than others. If you want news you can use, probably the best thing you can do to protect your family from crime is to move away from crime ridden areas.

    The most fascinating part of your post to me Mike is the bit about Anchorage.  Why on earth would rape be such a big problem in Anchorage?

    • #11
  12. raycon and lindacon Inactive
    raycon and lindacon
    @rayconandlindacon

    CuriousKevmo:

    Mike Hubbard:Why on earth would rape be such a big problem in Anchorage?

    Horny lumberjacks?

    • #12
  13. Mike Hubbard Member
    Mike Hubbard
    @MikeHubbard

    CuriousKevmo: The most fascinating part of your post to me Mike is the bit about Anchorage. Why on earth would rape be such a big problem in Anchorage?

    Alaska’s had a problem with this for some time.  And sadly, Anchorage is safer than many of the rural parts of the state.

    • #13
  14. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    raycon and lindacon: Horny lumberjacks?

    Different problem:

    • #14
  15. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    When evaluating homicide statistics in particular, it is important to remember that improved performance by first responders and emergency medical personnel is the cause of a substantial part of the decline.

    This factor does not affect the decline in violent crime in general.

    I think that most of the decline in violent crime over the past 20-25 years is the result not of better police work, but of more severe criminal sentencing.  Studies from the 198os (I think) showed that a very large proportion of crime was committed by a small number of repeat offenders, leading to tougher sentences and laws on the “three strikes and you’re out” principle.

    • #15
  16. Sowell for President Member
    Sowell for President
    @

    Arizona Patriot: improved performance by first responders and emergency medical personnel is the cause of a substantial part of the decline.

    So to get a more accurate picture of crime rates, would you recommend focusing on statistics regarding the incidences of various types of violent attacks (shootings, stabbings, etc.) rather than statistics about whether victims were killed?

    • #16
  17. Sowell for President Member
    Sowell for President
    @

    Basil Fawlty:Heather Mac Donald had a piece in a recent Wall Street Journal (Trying to Hide the Rise of Violent Crime) ably debunking the Brennan Center study, which Balko considers the “most thorough” study supporting his position. Unfortunately, Mac Donald’s article is still behind the Journal’s paywall.

    Here’s Heather MacDonald’s piece.

    • #17
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