Yes, Boston Is In A Gun-Violence Crisis

The one-per-day mark has been breached.

Jamarhl Crawford of Blackstonian, and others, have been keeping a very public count of the number of shooting victims in Boston since the Boston Marathon bombing. The idea is to draw attention to the ongoing crisis, in hopes of getting some resources and effort put toward doing something about it.

It’s been an effective campaign, but for most people the number has no real resonance, no context. The count stood at 67 (fatal and non-fatal) as of Friday—prior to the apparent early-morning triple-homicide on Intervale Street. Few people could tell you if that is an unusual number of shootings for the city.

In fact, it is. As I first wrote seven years ago, Boston’s level of gun violence breaks down quite simply: during relatively non-violent times, the city averages one shooting victim every other day; during crisis times, the average hits one per day. (The number does vary a little during the calendar year, but not nearly as much as you might imagine.)

It’s really that simple. During the worst years of 1990 to 1995, the average was 1.2 per day; during the nine “Boston Miracle” years that followed, the average was 0.5 a day. Then trouble returned, and it went back up to around one a day for a while. For the past four years, 2009-2012, it’s stayed steady between 0.6 and 0.7 per day—not as good as it could be, but well below crisis level.

Well, in 66 days since the Marathon, Boston had 67 shooting victims. The deaths in Roxbury make it at least 70 in 67 days.

In fact, going by Boston Police Department data, the city has been averaging one a day since roughly late March—a nearly three month span.

It might turn out to be just a blip. But three months is a pretty good indicator. There really is a problem in the city, one big enough to call a crisis.

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  • Regressive Goosesteppers

    Just goes to illustrate once more that gun control accomplishes little to nothing when it comes to keeping guns out of the hands of people willing to use them for violent crime.

  • TopCat_Texas

    What is not defined is “shooting victim”. It makes no sense to count all deaths where a gun was involved. Suicides are not an act of violence and should never be included in any of the counts. Criminals killed while commiting a crime is a positive outcome not negative. Just as MAIG counts the Boston Bomber as a victim and other cop killers. So, if these kinds of articles are to be taken seriously, they must break down the events by type and outcome.

    • Bob in Boston

      I’d also add that gang-on-gang and some other criminal violence shouldn’t count in statistcs used to make policy that affects law-abiding citizens because they weren’t really “victims” – they chose their confrontation.

  • sevenbrokenbricks

    So answer me this, gun-grabbers.

    If guns kill, and this is bad, end of story, then when Lanza shot himself because an armed LEO showed up, what did society lose that it hadn’t already lost in his earlier 27 victims? Meanwhile, what did it gain? (If you answered not having a 28th victim, congratulations, you get it.)

    Unless and until you understand that my desire to live and another’s desire to kill me is not a mere difference of opinion, you will never fathom why my right to respond with a 1911 or an AR-15 with an X-round capacity magazine (where X=as many as it takes) to protect my own life – or that of my loved ones – is not to be infringed upon.

    And for those of you who talk about ‘common sense’ regulations like background checks – first, speak English, not Liberal. Second, these background checks are under active assault by the Obama Administration for their use in hiring practices, stated to be due to the fact that an African American is less likely to be able to pass one. ‘Common sense’ dictates you don’t trust public safety to that.

  • Grizzled_Stranger

    Our Bureau of Justice Statistics points out the fact that since 1993, when American States began to relax their gun laws, America’s violent crime rates have dropped by 75 percent. The FBI reports our most serious violent crimes have dropped by essentially half since 1993. The ATF reports Americans have purchased more than 160 million new guns since 1992. 160 million new guns – and crime is down.

    Down almost everywhere but Massachusetts. Since Massachusetts enacted its gun law in 1998 until 2011 murder was up 40 percent, from 2.0 to 2.8 per 100,000 – and rising. The robbery rate is up almost 10 percent. Has Massachusetts gun laws driven the violent crime rates up?

    Turning to the larger picture, there have been more than 65,000 restrictive gun laws since the first in 1495. More than 22,500 are still in force. And every one of them has resulted in higher violent crime rates. The gun laws that have resulted in lowered violence and murder rates have been the permissive gun laws. The gun laws that cut our overall violent crime rate by 75% in 18 years.

    So yes. restrictive Federal and State gun laws are primarily responsible for driving the homicide rate from 1.4 per 100,000 in 1961 to as high as 4.4 in the 1970. And Massachusetts gun laws are responsible for keeping the violent crime rates high.

  • Chris Carpenter

    Boston needs to strengthen their gun laws … like Chicago … Then it will surely work …..

    More gun control = More Crime

    • Bob in Boston

      Is Boston really all that different than Chicago now? I live in a suburb of Boston and got my permit with no issues other then the unreasonably long wait, but everything I’ve heard is that it’s almost impossible to get a permit in Boston proper, which is probably a contributing factor to how much violent crime there is in both Chicago and Boston.

      Massachusetts already has some of the worst, nonsensical gun laws in the country but Boston is even worse then the rest of the state!

  • jimbo jones

    Comparing absolute numbers across decades is meaningless. The numbers per capita or per thousand are what really matter. This “crises” may be part of a decline in actual rate as population increases. Saying we hit one per day is unfortunate but can’t be labeled a crises with any validity.

  • Alex Lessin

    Thank you, David, for bringing further attention to this issue. This is so heartbreaking for our city. Should the solution to this problem be rooted outside of a discussion about guns, per se, but more specifically around violence and conflict resolution?