Chicago’s murder rate in 2016 has surged, though certainly not for the first time. Chicago has a violent past, but how does the current rate compare to past years or to trends toward increasing violent crime in a host of cities around the United States. How would the death toll compare to the war in Afghanistan?
Fatal and Nonfatal Shooting casualties in Chicago have amounted to 2,909 so far this year, including 448 fatalities. In August alone 81 people were shot to death in the city, and a total of 482 were shot last month according to Hey Jackass,Illustrating Chicago’s Values. See their video below for more numbers.
Chicago’s murder rate in 2016 was very similar to the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan during the height of the war. In 2010, the war in Afghanistan was at its worst, and during that year, 499 American troops were killed according to iCasualties. On average, 1,393 U.S. soldiers were wounded during each year of the Afghan war. So, there were about as many shooting deaths in Chicago so far in 2016, as U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
Nonfatal shooting victims in Chicago, who are not killed but are seriously injured and hospitalized, are also very numerous, and their numbers are also similar to nonfatal casualties in Afghanistan, during the height of the war, and substantially more than in some years of the war.
Chicago’s murder rate in 2016, is the highest of any U.S. city, if by the murder rate one means the number of people murdered, without adjustment for population size. There are no official murder totals in most cities for 2016, but in 2015 Chicago had 473 murders, compared to 352 in New York City. Baltimore had 344 murders while Los Angeles had 283. So Chicago does have more murders than any other city in the U.S. according to Fact Check. As the New York Times explains, rising homicide rates are not universal to U.S. cities and the overall crime rate is down in the U.S.
“Murders and most other types of crime have dropped since an alarming peak in the early 1990s and are now near historic lows. Criminologists said that while a rise in homicides in some cities in 2015 and early this year was potentially worrisome.”
Chicago murder rate in 2016 is not nearly as high as it was in 1974, with 970 murders, or in 1992, when there were 943 murders. Murder in the city declined sharply from 1994 until about 2003 and then leveled off at a rate not seen in Chicago since the mid-1960s, when a rapid upsurge in Chicago’s murder rate began. Overall, there have not been fewer than 400 murders in Chicago in any given year since 1965.
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The Chicago murder rate in 2016 is very high compared to recent years, considering the year is not yet over, and the rate is not slowing down. In 2015, for example, there had been only 337 murders in Chicago by August 31. That rate is far more typical of the last eight years than what has occurred this year.
Shooting violence and murder are overwhelming to police departments. Law enforcement is struggling with the volume of reported crimes. One disturbing fact in these cases is that nearly 80 percent of the murders remain unsolved. Police do not have suspects in custody and are overwhelmed by the volume of crimes.
The Chicago murder rate in 2016 is higher than in recent years, and nonfatal shooting statistics rival those in a war zone.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]