Chicago, as the home of the current President, has come under fire for some time due to its high number of murders despite some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Through Aug. 14, the city had recorded 264 homicides. America’s third most populous city does not have the nation’s highest homicide rate, murders per 100,000 of population, but it does have some unique aspects to the deaths buried in that total.
The ten top cities in the United States by population make an attempt to provide crime statistics on-line. Some reports are issued monthly while others are quarterly. Supplementing the official police reports are news organizations who are tracking, on a daily basis, the mayhem in their city’s streets. The Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune at its Redeye site provide data for their respective areas. The Times tracks murders in Los Angeles County while Redeye tracks the same data in the City of Chicago.
Chicago’s current murder rate is 9.72 per 100,000 of population. Los Angeles County, with 3.6 times the population of Chicago, has a murder rate of 3.78 per 100,000, 377 murders in 2013 through Aug. 10. The standout statistic for Chicago when compared to LA is the number of children, aged 18 and under, who have been murdered this year.
Chicago has seen 50 children murdered since Jan. 1 while Los Angeles County has recorded only 32. In the city of Chicago, 18.9 percent of its homicide victims have been children, while in the far more populous Los Angeles County 8.5 percent of those murder were children.
Demonstrating a similarity between the two locations is fairly simple. For the 19 to 25 age group, the percentage of all homicides in Chicago and in LA County is very similar, 32.6 percent and 31.6 percent. It is the deaths of children that make Chicago different.
Racially, the makeup of murder victims is complicated because the LA data uses a Hispanic category while Chicago records just black and white. Murders with white victims make up roughly similar percentages in both places. In Chicago, 19.7 percent of all homicide victims are white. In LA County, that percentage drops to 15.4 percent. According to the Census Bureau, in 2010 whites made up 45 percent of Chicago’s population and 71.6 percent of the population of Los Angeles County.
The Census Bureau places the percentage of children in both areas at roughly the same levels. For 2010, Chicago had 23.1 percent of its population under age 18. Los Angeles County had a similar estimate, 23.7 percent.
How does Chicago stand out with its murder statistics? Children are being killed in Chicago at a rate more than twice that of Los Angeles County. Examining the individual crimes as detailed in both media databases reveals that abuse accounts for a very small number of deaths. In Chicago, especially, the children are dying due to shootings and many are just bystanders. Chicago does have a claim to fame and it is the dying children who have paid the price for that fame.