What Do Gun Crime Statistics Say? Five Things You Need To Know

Crime in the U.S., especially gun crime, is complicated. In some ways, firearm crime is the most widely publicized. Think of all the recent news surrounding the mass shooting in Las Vegas. But in other ways, gun crime can seem to be underreported. Consider all of the shooting crime in parts of Chicago and in other major U.S. cities. That doesn’t seem to make big headlines nearly so often. But, what are the statistics on gun crime and what might they tell us? Here are five things you need to know.

  1. Chicago Has The Most Homicides Of Any U.S. City, And Over 80 Percent Are From Guns

So far this year, Chicago has had over 500 homicides, according to the Chicago Tribune. This is more than any U.S. city. If this number continues at the current pace, Chicago will have deaths comparable to 2016. And, 2016 was the “highest in 19 years,” this according to CNN. Even if 2017 ends up lower than 2016, it has already surpassed the 2015 total of 478.

Additionally and unfortunately, the murder clearance rate in Chicago was only about 20 percent in 2016, meaning that close to 80 percent of the homicides remained unsolved, this information is via The Guardian. The low murder clearance rate continues in Chicago for this year.

If the statistics are similar to prior years, then by far the weapon of choice is a gun. According to a 2013 Amnesty International Report, “more than 80 percent of those deaths [in Chicago were] attributed to gun violence.”

  1. St. Louis Has The Most Homicides Per Capita Of Any U.S. City, And Over 95 Percent Are From Guns

While Chicago has had the most homicides in total, St. Louis has the most homicides per capita. For 2016, St. Louis had a per capita homicide rate of 59.3, according to a report from The Trace. For comparison, Chicago’s per capita rate during that same period was 27.9, less than half of St. Louis. This means that if St. Louis was the size of Chicago, it would have over 1,000 homicides so far this year. And, “96 percent of the 94 homicides recorded in the first half of the year were committed with guns,” according to The Trace.

  1. Most Guns Used In Crime Are Acquired Illegally

This is probably not a surprise. Two studies, one from Pittsburgh and one from Chicago, concluded that most criminals “do not acquire guns legally.”

According to the Pittsburgh study, “in approximately eight out of 10 cases, the perpetrator was not a lawful gun owner but rather in illegal possession of a weapon that belonged to someone else.” This was according to the National Review.

Government collaboration could help curb Chicago gun violence.
Chicago police will be working with federal agents to try to curb the flow of illegal weapons into the city. [Image by G-Jun Yam/AP Images]
  1. Suicides Make Up The Largest Percentage Of Gun Deaths

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, from 2011 through 2015, there were almost 34,000 people per year who died from guns. Of those, over 21,000 per year were from suicide. And looking at suicides in general, over 44,000 people kill themselves each year in the U.S., meaning that close to 50 percent of suicides are from self-inflicted gunshots.

  1. Most Mass Shootings Are Related To Domestic Violence

According to an article earlier this year by Everytown Research, 54 percent of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016 “were related to domestic or family violence.” There were 914 people killed, including 66 shooters who died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds after the incidents.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Over the years, the interpretation of the amendment has been hotly debated.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, did conclude that the Second Amendment “protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes.” But, it did go on to say that “the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.” It went further to describe the “historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

The use of guns can be a contentious issue. In the U.S., guns are legal. No one disagrees that they can be dangerous if not handled correctly. The fine line seems to be how to keep them out of the hands of those who will not treat them properly while respecting the rights of those who will. More than likely, this issue will neither be solved easily nor in the near future. How the Second Amendment is ultimately dealt with remains to be seen.

[Featured Image by Rick Bowmer/AP Images]