Last week, ABC News published a piece titled ‘It's just crazy': 12 major cities hit all-time homicide records'. I'm not going to chalk this up to COVID, as is the customary practice these days. Instead, I want to look at something interesting the report brought to light.
Looking at the numbers —
First, let's remind ourselves that assigning one cause to a rise in murder rate oversimplifies a complex issue affected by numerous variables. However, it doesn't mean we should throw out the correlating variables that would seem to impact a particular cause. And we certainly should consider (but not blindly accept) the advice of those who study the issue.
Okay so back to the ABC article. The piece points out that AT LEAST 12 cities in the U.S. have passed their highest recorded rate for a single year. Here they are:
|City||# Homicides||Highest Since||As Of|
|Portland, OR||72||1987||October 2021|
|St. Paul, MN||35||2020||December 2021|
|Tuscon, AZ||80||2008||October 2021|
|Albuquerque, NM||82||2019||August 2021|
|Indianapolis, IA||246||2020||November 2021|
|Louisville, KY||175||2020||November 2021|
|Austin, TX||60||1984||September 2021|
|Toledo, OH||62||2020||November 2021|
|Rochester, NY||71||1991||November 2021|
|Philadelphia, PA||501||1990||November 2021|
|Columbus, OH||179||2020||November 2021|
|Baton Rouge, LA||137||2020||October 2021|
Other large cities haven't been included in the above table because their numbers, while higher than the previous year, have not surpassed their all-time highs. For example, the 73rd ranked most dangerous city in the U.S. tallied 739 homicides as of November 2021, an increase of 3% from the previous year, but not 974 like in 1970.
Things that stand out —
In looking at the data, a few things stand out.
First, 5 of the cities' previous all-time high in homicides was last year. These figures point to an uncharacteristic and sustained spike in homicides. The cities are spread out and represent nearly every geographical region in the country.
Everytown for Gun Safety —
Secondly, the mayors of each city on the list have something in common. Sure they are Democrats, but that isn't the important thing, as not all Democrat-run cities are in shambles. The commonality between all mayors is that they are proud supporters and backed by the group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Contrary to the name, Everytown for Gun Safety isn't really an organization promoting gun safety. It's not a stretch to encapsulate the Everytown mission as complete abolition of the individual's right to own firearms.
You can head to the' Who We Are‘ tab on the organization's website to confirm, as Everytown conveniently lists the cities of mayors associated with the organization. We shouldn't discount this as a trivial coincidence. Does this alone mean Everytown's influence on mayors equals higher murder numbers? No, not in and of itself.
Take Ohio, for example. Ohio has two cities represented on the chart, Toledo and Columbus. I happen to live in Columbus, Ohio and know a few officers who can substantiate the city's decline. Andrew Ginther, the mayor of Columbus, is a progressive Democrat associated with Everytown. However, Ohio has preemption laws. The laws don't allow a city to create more restrictive gun laws, contradicting the State Constitution.
Every state on the list except New York has preemption laws that hinder at least in part local jurisdictions from making more restrictive gun laws. To further muddy the correlation to murder rates and Everytown-linked mayors, there are cities in which murder rates haven't soared, whose mayors govern linked to Everytown.
But it is interesting to look back to a 2016 Daily Mail article that listed the 50 most dangerous cities in the World. The murder rate was one of the factors influencing the ranking. Unsurprisingly, 41 of the 50 cities on the list are in Latin America. Mexico and Brazil account for the overwhelming majority of cities. Civilian ownership of firearms is banned outright or highly regulated in the countries.
Before we point fingers, 4 U.S. Cities made the list. The cities are Saint Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, and New Orleans. You probably know where I'm going with this. All four cities' mayors had close ties to the organization called, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. This organization, along with Mom's Demand Action, later became, yep, Everytown for Gun Safety.
I'm not saying a mayor on board with Everytown isn't likely to run their city into the ground. I just don't think their association with Everytown is the actual reason for the hazardous nature of the cities. Instead, I see the association as an indication of a world view of governing, associated with policies that doom the residents.
Lack of accountability?
I agree with the next logical step the ABC report takes to understand the soaring murder rates.
The ABC post included commentary from the New York Police Chief of Detectives called Robert Boyce. The article quotes Boyce as saying:
Nobody’s getting arrested anymore. People are getting picked up for gun possession and they're just let out over and over again.
The FBI Uniform Crime Report showed over 10 million arrests in 2019. In 2020, that number dropped to 7.63 million, a 24% drop. To put this number in context, the number of arrests in 2020 was the lowest in 25 years! We're not talking about a rate adjusted per capita, and the number of agencies reporting numbers to the FBI has increased over that period. If that weren't enough, the U.S. population (as far as we know) has increased by 48.5 million since 2000!
All this is to say arrest numbers should naturally go up, not down.
One possible factor could be the actual number of police officers available to make arrests decreased from 2019-2020. The decrease was the first decrease since 2012-2013. From 2013 – 2019 the number of officers increased drastically, corresponding to a general decrease in crime rates.
A Police Executive Research Forum report noted in the ABC article reported that:
The retirement rate in police departments nationwide jumped 45% over 2020 and 2021. And another 18% of officers resigned, the survey found, a development which coincided with nationwide social justice protests and calls to defund law enforcement agencies following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
I think this has more impact on rising murder rates in these cities. It seems a mayor aligning with an organization like Everytown will likely also align with other groups that support similar social policies. Policies that often result in the opposite of their stated goal or are flat-out terrible.
Failed policies —
For example, wherever ‘defund the police' gained traction, increased crime rates followed. Demonizing all police as corrupt and racist has a negative impact on enforcement, and retention if you just stop and think about it for more than 2 seconds.
Probably even more impactful than the previous two points is the push to reform bail policies and laws. Unsurprisingly, crime rates have exploded where policies, like not requiring bail or choosing not to bring charges are enacted. Criminals are left to re-offend repeatedly. The tragic mass-killing at a Christmas parade is a recent example of what happens when the criminal justice system breaks.
Regardless of political affiliation, politicians work for the citizens of this country. Their sole job is to govern in a way that allows every person the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To do the very best they can for the citizens. Hold your politicians accountable for failed policies. Stop voting for someone simply because they have a D or an R after their name. Research the people you vote for. Demand decent people to represent you in the legislature.
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