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Chicago likes to compare itself to other world cities, so Ward Room thought it would find out how we rank in violence.
It turns out no one can top us.
Among what are considered Alpha world cities, Chicago has the highest murder rate -- higher even than the Third World metropolises of Mexico City and Sao Paolo.
Here’s how we rank in murders per 100,000 among cities we consider our peers, based on a projected murder total of 505 for this year.
Hong Kong 0.6
New York 6.0
Los Angeles 7.5
Mexico City 8.0
Sao Paulo 15.6
We could be doing worse: Caracas, Venezuela has a murder rate of 130 per 100,000. But its undeniable that the Windy City is under seige.
Gun lovers are gleeful about Chicago’s deadly summer. They see it as a rebuke not just to gun control, but to the policies of Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel.
But Chicago’s murder rate is not proof that gun control doesn’t work. It’s proof that, in a country with one gun per citizen, local gun laws are meaningless.
Let’s look at Tokyo, one of the safest cities on that list, with a murder rate of 0.5 per 100,000 citizens. Japan’s constitution does not guarantee its citizens the right to bear arms. Handguns are prohibited. Semi-automatic weapons are prohibited. Automatic rifles are prohibited. The only exceptions are hunting shotguns and target-shooting pistols. The penalty for illegal possession of a gun is up to 15 years in prison. Japan has a population of 127 million. In 2006, two people were murdered with guns.
Japan starts with the principle that citizens have no right to a gun, and forces them to prove they need one. The United States starts with the principle that guns are an inalienable right, and forces the government to justify banning them.
The number-one factor in predicting crime is not guns -- or lack of guns. It is concentrated urban poverty. Because of Chicago’s history as a segregated city, we have a lot of that.
This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $2.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.