Backgrounder: Crime Stats

June 25, 2019

A CHART BY the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in a June 18 editorial confuses Indiana’s gun-crime statistics.

The editorial, “Threat of Inaction: Weekend Shootings Drive Home Urgency,” attempts to support the gun-control position of past Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke, formerly director of the Brady Center/Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C., now at Indiana University.

“Failure to debate and discuss [gun-control] proposals that have been suggested means that those candidates and officials either feel that gun violence is not a problem, or they don’t want to do anything about it for one reason or another,” Helmke is quoted in the editorial a few days after a fatal shooting.

An accompanying chart cites the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) for Indiana’s ranking as the 20th-worst state in terms of “firearm death rate,” with 1,016 such deaths in 2017 or more than 15 per 100,000 population.

That total seemingly includes deaths that were unintentional, undetermined or occurring in the process of a legal intervention. If so, none of that bore on the example of gun violence prompting the editorial, i.e., a daylight homicide involving as yet unidentified young men with unknown gun registry in a crowded parking lot in the central commercial district of a city with a high crime rate.

Taking out the CDCP search instructions irrelevant to the crime example or the point of the editorial, you are left with 244 gun deaths statewide, all of them by definition already illegal regardless of whether the Legislature acts on Helmke’s recommendations. Moreover, 180 were in either Marion, Lake, Allen or St. Joseph counties, all counties with primary cities led by mayors sharing the gun-control sympathies of Helmke and the Journal Gazette.

That leaves 64 pertinent gun deaths in 2017 spread out over the 88 counties that the editorial implies are in need of leadership change. That is 0.00097 percent of the state’s 6.6 million residents or about one person per 100,000, about the same number as die in drownings and falls. — tcl


Leave a Reply