CPRC Report: ‘Murder isn’t a nationwide problem’

United States murder distribution by county. (Photo: Crime Prevention Research Center)

A recently published report from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) claims, “[Murder] is a problem in a small set of urban areas and even in those counties murders are concentrated in a small area inside them.”

The study evaluates the distribution of murders across the United States through 2020, comparing them to previous years, and the conclusion is staggering.

The number of murders reached a high in 2020 with COVID lockdowns, riots, and protests across the U.S. Murders increased nearly 30% from 2019 to 2020.

What the study found was that 5% of counties accounted for 73% of the entire country’s murders. Even more astounding, only 1% – 31 counties – accounted for 42% of murders nationwide.

Further, 68% of U.S. counties had one or fewer murders, and over half of the counties (52%) reported no murders at all for the entire year.

This concentration of murders has existed for decades but has increased over the last several years. The study explains, “The most dangerous 5% of the counties accounted for 71% of the murders in 2010, falling to 69% in 2014, and then rising to 73% by 2020.”

Population Distibution

Taking into account the population distribution, the study discovered that between 2010 and 2020, while the number of murders fluctuated in the worse 5% of counties, the overall population distribution remained the same. The worse 1% of counties contained 21% of the nation’s population in 2010, 2014, 2016, and 2020.

Figure 6 shows the changes in the share of murders in the 5% of the worst counts
were not driven by changes in their share of the population.

The Top of the List

Illinois’ Cook County, which contains the city of Chicago, had the highest number of reported murders in 2020 with a staggering 775. Chicago itself holds 40% of the state’s population.

Following Cook County is:

  • Los Angeles County, 691 murders
  • Harris County, Texas, 537 murders
  • Philadelphia County, 495 murders
  • New York City’s five counties, a combined 465 murders
  • Wayne County, Michigan, 379 murders
  • Shelby County, Tennessee, 311 murders
  • Maricopa County, Arizona, 299 murders
  • Baltimore City county, 291 murders
  • Dallas County, 281 murders
  • Marion County, Indiana, 234 murders

Increased Concentration

The study also found that within individual counties murders are also further concentrated. Breaking down Los Angeles, for example, the study found that 10% of the zip codes accounted for 41% of the county’s murders. The worse 20% of zip codes contained 67% of murders.

In David L. Weisburd’s separate report, he demonstrated that in eight cities about half of the violent crime occurred on only 5 percent of the streets.

Gun Ownership

A 2021 PEW Research Center Survey estimated that gun ownership is 79% higher in rural areas and 37.9% higher in the suburbs when compared to urban areas. It is also interesting to note that the areas with stricter firearms regulations, like Los Angeles and Chicago, are at the top of the list.

The new study states, “One should not put much weight on this purely ‘cross-sectional’ evidence over one point in time, and many factors determine murder rates. However, it is still interesting to note that so much of the country has both very high gun ownership rates and zero murders.”

This study shows a fact that a vast majority of the country fails to recognize; “murder isn’t a nationwide problem.”

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About the author: P. H. Everett grew up in a small town in southeastern Idaho. He spent his free time exploring and developing an affection for the outdoors. While attending college he worked at a local sporting goods store. Here, he fostered his passion not only for the outdoors and hunting but also for firearms, reloading, and shooting. He takes every opportunity to get in the mountains and his love for everything firearms and outdoors continues to grow.

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  • Frank February 10, 2023, 5:51 pm

    Well… DUH!!!

    In other news, the sky appears blue (except on cloudy days), and sunlight warms the earth (except at night, to a lesser extent on cloudy days, and varies with latitude).

  • Bob W February 10, 2023, 9:49 am

    I’m surprised the author doesn’t have the balls to just say that the majority of murders occur in poor black neighborhoods with illegal guns. In New York City every time you see a murder on the news it’s always some black kid killing another black kid. I thought Black Lives Matter. Not to everyone I guess.

  • Truthful conservative February 10, 2023, 9:04 am

    This is why history is important. When crime…particularly murder…was rampant during depression era America…(what we glamorize as the gangster era). The govt recognized poverty was the common denominator and invested in creating jobs, land grant colleges, and subsidized housing by the fha (now the suburbs)…some people in the US were NOT allowed to be part of that investment. Couple that with Reagan era govt literally bringing in drugs from Nicaragua to already economically depressed communities (unless you think somehow folks had access to sandinistas beyond the CIA in which case I got water front property in Idaho to sell you). You have the same recipe for wanton violence and hopelessness…then instead of fixing it rhe right way in the 90s…we let Clinton criminalize those communities more putting fathers in jail. We lost alot of America and couldn’t see it. Its simple create meaningful employment opportunity (to afford current costsl of living) and provide great (clean schools, caring well paid staff, well resourced) education from an early start…dont let kids and parents starve…give them something to be proud of…solve this dilemma the same way we did post depression.

    • Wade February 10, 2023, 10:08 am

      Your comments do not sound like your user name.

    • Fal Phil February 10, 2023, 10:57 am

      Category error.
      The gangster era was the 1920’s – during Prohibition, not the Depression. Crime, even organized crime fell during the depression. But the real category error is that poverty = crime. While poverty influences crime to some degree, there are many examples that show where parental supervision remains high in poverty areas, crime remains low.

      Also, there was no Reagan administration “literally bringing in drugs from Nicaragua to already economically depressed communities”. Furthermore, a lot of the cocaine ended up in wealthy communities, not just the impoverished ones.The money, intended for humanitarian aid, left the State Department and fell into the hands of the CIA network operating in Central America. Once it hit that network, much like the humanitarian aid going to Ukraine today, the US government lost control. Considering that the CIA does not use many law-abiding and auditable resources in its networks, there is no wonder some of it ended up in the drug trade. I imagine some of it ended up in the human trafficking trade too. We saw it in Southeast Asia and we should have put restrictions on the CIA then. Heck, we should just stay out of other countries’ issue completely and defend our own borders, but that is an issue for another time. The issue isn’t that the government was paying for drugs. The issue is that the government meddles in other countries’ business and does not anticipate the unintended consequences.

      BTW, my hunting buddy owns lakefront property on the Dworshak Reservoir. Where is the property you have for sale?

    • JW February 10, 2023, 1:00 pm

      So, repeatedly voting for democRATS is good for the areas most in need? They are in charge of the major metropolitan areas, the so-called prosecuting attorneys, the senate and the white house. These hacks have ignored rampant crime in those areas, dropped bail requirements and refused to prosecute the criminals. The invasion they are encouraging and ignoring at the border is near catastrophic and the source of the fentanyl flood which kill over 30 thousand people a year. You may not like Trump but it was MUCH BETTER than this abysmal failure.

      • Truthful conservative February 10, 2023, 11:52 pm

        Forget conservative or Democrat…if they dont have the resources and guiltless conviction to do right by ALL these Americans…both will fail

  • Mark N. February 9, 2023, 12:52 am

    The result is unsurprising when one sees that the study was authored by John Lott, the statistician most hated by the gun control crowd. I would like to see them debunk this study, a study that comports with the common understanding that the inner cities in the US are very dangerous places, while the rest of us, although suffering from crimes against property, are mostly free of “gun violence” and other forms of homicide. Will this study change any minds? You’re kidding, right?

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