New Study Shows Localized Nature of America’s Murder “Problem”

posted on February 10, 2023
Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

New research from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) proves, once again, what most of us have known all along—when it comes to murder in America, the country’s millions of lawful gun owners are not the problem.

The research paper, titled “Murders in U.S. Are Very Concentrated, and They Are Becoming Even More So,” revealed that 2% of American counties experienced 56% of murders in 2020, proving that increasing murder rates are very localized and in historic hotspots.

“When it comes to murder, there are three types of counties in the United States,” the study stated. “Most counties experience no murders, a smaller set where there are a few murders and then a tiny set of counties where murders are very common.”

According to the research, in the year studied, 52% of counties, which had 10% of the population, had no murders. Further, 68% of counties had no more than one murder. These counties accounted for only 2.6% of all murders in the country in 2020.

“The worst 1% of counties (the worst 31 counties) have 21% of the population and 42% of the murders,” the report stated. “The worst 2% of counties (62 counties) contain 31% of the population and 56% of the murders. The worst 5% of counties contain 47% of the population and account for 73% of murders.”

Even within those dangerous counties, however, the murders are very heavily concentrated in small, localized areas. In looking at the high-murder-rate counties by zip codes, some are mostly murder free.

Take Los Angeles County, Cali., as an example. There, the worst 10% of the zip codes account for 41% of the murders, the worst 20% have 67% and the worst 30% have 82% of murders.

“By contrast, the safest 40% of the counties have just 1% of the murders,” the report stated. “Recent research shows that murders in Los Angeles County have become less concentrated over time, but they are still fairly concentrated.”

While the research shows that certain counties, and certain portions of those counties, are quite dangerous, it also reveals the other side of the picture—how safe the rest of the United States is as far as murder is concerned.

“In 2020, the murder rate was 5.84 per 100,000 people,” the study stated. “If the 1% of the counties with the worst number of murders somehow were to become a separate country, the murder rate in the rest of the U.S. would have been only 4.31 in 2020. Removing the worst 25% would have reduced the U.S. rate to just 3.71 or 2.99 per 100,000, respectively.”

The study further pointed out that, while the sky-high murder rates were generally in heavily urban areas (read as big cities), gun ownership is much higher in the safer suburban and rural areas.

“According to a 2021 PEW Research Center survey, the household gun ownership rate in rural areas was 79% higher than in urban areas,” the report stated. “Suburban households are 37.9% more likely to own guns than urban households.”

The study had an important takeaway concerning murder in America and what politicians and law enforcement should concentrate their efforts on in order to lower murder rates. Hint: The answer isn’t more anti-gun laws that only affect law-abiding citizens.

“Few appreciate how most of the counties in the U.S. have no murders each year, and that 70% of the counties account for just 3% of the murders,” the report concluded. “Murder isn’t a nationwide problem. It’s a problem in a small set of urban areas and even in those counties murders are concentrated in small areas inside them, and any solution must reduce those murders.”


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