Where Are the Big-Homicide Cities?

Perhaps not where you think. A new Centers for Disease Control report is out: “Violence-Related Firearm Deaths Among Residents of Metropolitan Areas and Cities — United States, 2006-2007.”

Notable patterns by geographic region were observed. All-ages firearm homicide rates generally were higher for MSAs in the Midwest (seven of 10 above the median MSA rate of 5.4 [per 100,000 inhabitants]) and South (13 of 21 above the median rate) than for MSAs in the Northeast (six of seven below the median rate) and West (eight of 12 below the median rate). All-ages firearm suicide rates were generally higher for MSAs in the South (15 of 21 at or above the median MSA rate of 6.3) than for MSAs in the Northeast (six of seven below the median rate), Midwest (six of 10 at or below the median rate), and West (seven of 12 below the median rate); the highest rates were concentrated in the South and West.

Photo: CarbonNYC

Keep in mind that the overall firearm homicide rate has fallen dramatically over the past 20 years. The current numbers are still too high, however, and the outliers are particularly troubling. New Orleans has a rate of 62.1, more than six times the median for cities; Detroit’s rate is 35.9.

The rate in Newark, N.J. is a horrendous 25.4. What about nearby New York City? Just 4.0.

The suicide numbers in the report are also interesting; we’ll have more to say on that in an upcoming hour-long Freakonomics Radio episode on the topic.

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  1. Iljitsch van Beijnum says:

    5.4 per what?

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  2. Eric M. Jones. says:

    “…current numbers are still too high, however….”

    Okay, somebody has to say it….”Says whom?”

    Let’s assume the homicide death by firearms fell to zero. How does this correlate with homicide by other means, say automobiles or poisons? Would they increase dramatically? Why does the means by which homicides are committed have any relevance to the health of a society? Frankly I would much rather be shot by a nine-millimeter than be run through by a ceramic kitchen knife.

    Just sayin’…

    “A well-armed society is a polite society.” Robert A. Heinlein

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    • Clancy says:

      It’s a lot easier to kill someone with a gun than any other method. I would assume that a drop in the gun homicide rate would correlate to a drop in the overall homicide rate and a small rise in homicide by other means. It’s very rare that someone poisons someone in a fit of rage.

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  3. annmaria says:

    What is it for Los Angeles? I’m dying to know.

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  4. Iljitsch van Beijnum says:

    I’d rather live in the Netherlands with 0.93 murders per 100000 per year than in the US with 5. The latter means that in a city of a million people after 70 years 3500 people have been murdered, or about one in 300 people end up being murdered. Politeness is overrated.

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    • Seth says:

      The way you did your math would turn out to mean that around 1 in 17 people in your “city” die in a car accident, so I think something is a little off. However, this should certainly drive your living decision more than a 1 in 300 chance of being murdered.

      (not saying I wouldn’t love to live in the Netherlands though! ^_^ )

      http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm

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      • Seth says:

        Wow, I am so sorry, I used the wrong statistic for automobile deaths in my haste to get off the computer, you are probably completely right! Sorry about the confusion! :P

        That is insane!

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  5. Jen says:

    I think this is close to what I would have guessed — Detroit, certainly, I know NYC has been dropping for years.

    Would be interesting to see correlations with gun control laws, poverty rates and with voting patterns.

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  6. M0 says:

    In general, gun ban cities are murder capitals.

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  7. caleb b says:

    Does anyone else wonder why there is a four year lag on this data?

    If Detroit was that bad in ’07, how bad is it now?

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  8. Dan Quinn says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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