Whenever something as horrific as the weekend’s Las Vegas mass shooting takes place, people have an understandable tendency to let it grow in their minds into a fear of an ever-present danger that could happen again at any moment.

So it’s important to take a step back and examine crimes such as homicide in context. The simple fact is that murders are rare in most of the United States … but the parts in which they aren’t rare tell us a great deal about the real solutions to gun violence, and how wildly they differ from the policy prescriptions of those doing the most to stoke fear.

According to an April 2017 research article by the Crime Prevention Research Center, more than half of American counties had zero murders in 2014, and only 31 percent had more than one for the entire year. Meanwhile, over half of the country’s murders, 51 percent, took place in just two percent of American counties.

You can see a variety of graphs illustrating the CPRC’s findings over at their website, but here’s a map putting things in perspective:

And what counties are the most dangerous?

When you look at individual counties with a high number of murders, you find large areas with few murders. Take Los Angeles County, with 526 murders in 2014, the most of any county in the US. The county has virtually no murders in the northwestern part of the county. There was only one murder each in Beverly Hills, Hawthorne, and Van Nuys. Clearly, different parts of the county face very different risks of murder […]

Although the city extends well beyond the 465 Highway that encircles downtown Indianapolis [which had 135 murders], there are only four murders outside of that loop. The northern half of the city within 465 also has relatively few murders.

Washington, DC has large areas without murders. 14th Street NW divides the eastern and western parts of the district, with murders overwhelmingly limited to the eastern half. The area around the capitol is also extremely safe […]

Here are Chicago’s murders through the first 4.5 months of 2017 (there were 222 homicides by that point). One small neighborhood, Austin, accounts over 25 murders. But 23 of the 77 neighborhoods in the city have zero murders, and most of the 40 neighborhoods in orange have only one murder. Twelve of the neighborhoods have 10 or more murders.

Hmm, remind me again: what are the gun laws like in Illinois, California, and the District of Columbia? Who dominates local government in Chicago and DC?

Sure enough, the CPRC report points out that despite gun grabbers’ fear mongering, “the household gun ownership rate in rural areas was 2.11 times greater than in urban areas,” and “Suburban households are 28.6% more likely to own guns than urban households.”

Another chart making the rounds online this week reveals the correlation — or lack thereof — between legal gun ownership and gun violence:

What do you think of all this? Will facts or panic win in the end? Are there policies we should pursue aside from gun control that might prevent more tragedies like this in the future? Share your thoughts below!


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