Jordan Candler / February 23, 2016

Are Chicago Homicides on a Historic Trajectory?

Nearly 100 people have been murdered already in 2016.

This year homicides in Chicago are off to a vicious start. And unless the blood thirst wanes the trend suggests 2016 may be one for the record books. Already, 95 murders have been registered since Jan. 1, according to statistics compiled by the Chicago Tribune. That’s a two-fold increase over last year, when 47 were killed. But when accounting for the total number of fatal and non-fatal shootings, the ratio is even worse. Chicago as of yesterday has seen a total of 420 shootings so far this year; in 2015 is was a comparatively low 193.

Now let’s do some extrapolating and consider this: Chicago saw a total of 488 homicides last year. Assuming this year’s pace remains consistent — which, admittedly, is unlikely but it’s worth contemplating nonetheless — Chicago is currently on track to record 976 homicides. That figure would set a new benchmark. The city has recorded more than 800 annual homicides on 16 different occasions since 1928, four of which had over 900 — 1974 (970), 1991 (928), 1992 (943) and 1994 (931). And even though the pace may slow in the months ahead, we shouldn’t discount the possibility that more gruesome history may be in the offing (read Cause and (Ferguson) Effect.)

“Earlier this year, I took some steps that will make it harder for dangerous people … to buy a gun,” Barack Obama reminded governors this week. “But clearly, we’re gonna need to do more if we’re gonna keep innocent Americans safe. I have got to assume that all of you are just as tired as I am of seeing this stuff happen in your states. So that’s an area where we also need to partner and think about what we can do in a common-sense way, in a bipartisan way, without some of the ideological rhetoric that so often surrounds that issue.” For the record, those remarks were not directed at Chicago. Instead, Obama was responding to a tragic story from this past weekend in which a taxi driver indiscriminately killed six people over several hours in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ninety-five people lie dead in less than eight weeks in Chicago. But more importantly to Obama, they don’t make for good political theater.

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