November 2, 2017

UChicago Crime Lab Releases 2017 Gun Trace Report

According to the University of Chicago Crime Lab’s 2017 Gun Trace Report, 2016 showed a significant increase in the homicide rate since 2015. The UChicago Crime Lab, in collaboration with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the city of Chicago, released the report this past Sunday.

The UChicago Crime Lab is a privately funded, independent, nonpartisan academic research center founded in 2008 to help cities identify methods to control crime and violence. The report presents data trends pertaining to homicide and gun violence in Chicago for 2016, reflecting a significant increase in violent crimes from 2015.

The report reveals that Chicago saw 764 recorded homicides last year, a 58 percent increase in homicides and a 43 percent increase in nonfatal shootings compared with 2015. The report explains although an annual increase of this size is not unexpected among American cities, it is rare for a city of Chicago’s size.

The difference in overall homicide rates across the five largest U.S. cities is largely driven by differences in their gun homicide rates, since there is less variation in the non-gun homicide rate between the cities, the report states.

According to the report, Chicago’s high overall homicide rate is entirely a product of its elevated gun homicide rate. Chicago has more total homicides than any other U.S. city and has a higher homicide rate per capita than any of the other largest cities in the country.

However, Chicago’s homicide rate per 100,000 residents is relatively moderate compared with all other cities.

In a press release on Sunday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded to the report: “The Gun Trace Report once again shows that illegal guns, purchased outside of the city of Chicago and trafficked through an illegal and unregulated market, have a profound impact on the lives of Chicagoans. We must work to expand the City’s model of regulations to stop this flow of illegal guns at the source statewide.”

The report describes how guns are used in crimes across the city and where the weapons are coming from. It was found that 60 percent of the guns used in Chicago's crimes originate from out of state, where there is less regulation over firearms.

From 2013–2016, 21 percent of the guns used in Chicago crimes were traced back to Indiana. The next highest states were Mississippi with 5.1 percent and Wisconsin with 4 percent.

The report concludes by advocating for a policy response that centers around the especially dense increase in gun violence in the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, conducted largely by adolescents in public places with illegally obtained firearms.