A “Red State” or “Blue City” Murder Problem?

Gun Rights

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group, Everytown for Gun Safety, ranks the 50 states on how well they have comported their laws to the organization’s civilian disarmament agenda. In doing so, the group describes New Hampshire, with its few gun control laws, as a “national failure.”

That descriptor might come as a surprise to residents of the bucolic northern New England state. According to CDC homicide mortality data, in 2020 and 2021 pro-Second Amendment New Hampshire had the lowest homicide rate in the nation

In the Granite State in 2020, there were 0.9 homicides per 100,000 residents. In contrast, Everytown gun control “national leader” New York experienced 4.7 homicides per 100,000 residents – a rate 5 times higher than New Hampshire’s. Everytown’s highest ranking gun control state, California, had a homicide rate of 6.1, almost 7 times higher than New Hampshire’s. Everytown darling Illinois had a homicide rate of 11.2.

The point is, political actors like Everytown will manipulate metrics to advance their agenda.

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In recent years, Democratic enclaves have been conducting an experiment with soft-on-crime policies. Predictably, the national homicide rate has increased alongside these highly-visible efforts.

Understanding that most of the voting public doesn’t condone the intentional promotion of lawlessness, some prominent Democrats have attempted to shift the narrative by making misleading claims about homicide in Republican-controlled “red states.” According to the left-wing talking point, murder rates are worse in these “red states.” Part of the implication is that the lack of gun control in these states is part of the problem.

It should be noted that New Hampshire has a Republican governor that enacted Constitutional Carry in 2017 and both houses of the New Hampshire General Court are controlled by Republicans.

As the American Enterprise Institute’s Marc A. Thiessen pointed out in an October 20, 2022 piece for the Washington Post, the “red state” murder claim is “bogus.” Thiessen explained, “In most of these red states, the high murder rates are driven by the lethal violence in their blue cities.”

Missouri is one of the states with a high homicide rate that those on the left have cited to support their thesis. Thiessen pointed out,

Take Missouri. Yes, it voted for Trump. But it is also home to two of the most dangerous U.S. cities — St. Louis and Kansas City — both of which are run by Democrats… According to the FBI, the state had about 520 murders in major metropolitan areas that year, 20 in cities outside metropolitan areas, and 28 in nonmetropolitan counties. So, the vast majority of Missouri’s homicides took place in its Democrat-run cities.

To elaborate on the matter of St. Louis, the Gateway to the West’s homicide rate per 100 thousand residents exploded from 64.5 in 2019 to 87.2 in 2020. The homicide rate was far and away the city’s highest in the preceding 50 years.

This startling increase in homicides came under the tenure of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. Elected to the office in 2016, Gardner has worked to “reform” the city’s criminal justice system – often placing her at odds with city law enforcement. Gardner has received significant support from anti-gun billionaire George Soros. As Politico reported back in 2016, Soros is engaged in a wide-ranging effort to remake the U.S. criminal justice system by electing activist prosecutors throughout the country.

Research from the Manhattan Institute also undermines the left-wing “red state” murder factoid.

In May 2022, the think tank published a report examining the 2020 homicide spike using county-level data. The researchers found that “Counties with a higher share of GOP voters not only have lower homicide rates but also a lower growth in homicide rates between 2019 and 2020.” Further, the authors noted, “We also find that there is no statistically significant relationship between the growth in the homicide rate and either the number of Covid-19 deaths or the number of guns sold per capita.”

Researchers at the Heritage Foundation also debunked this Democrat talking point in a November 2022 report titled “The Blue City Murder Problem.”

Examining the 30 cities with the highest homicide rates in the nation, the researchers found, “27 have Democratic mayors” and “within those 30 cities there are at least 14 Soros-backed or Soros-inspired rogue prosecutors.”

To show the impact that “blue cities” have on the homicide rate in “red states,” the authors recalculated several states’ homicide rates when high-crime Democrat-dominated cities and counties were removed from the equation.

In the case of Missouri, the report pointed out that,

The elected officials in the City of Saint Louis, Missouri, are all Democrats. The 28 members of the Board of Alderman are all Democrats, as are Circuit Attorney (the equivalent of a local district attorney) Kim Gardner and Mayor Tishaura Jones.

Saint Louis County is equally lopsided with elected Democrats, including five of the seven members of the County Council and District Attorney Wesley Bell.

The report went on to explain,

St. Louis City and St. Louis County heavily influence the state’s homicide rate, having 46.235 and 14.387 homicides per 100,000 residents, respectively. Removing St. Louis City lowers the state’s homicide rate from 9.363 to 7.482 per 100,000 residents, a 20.09 percent reduction. Removing St. Louis County lowers the homicide rate to 8.395 per 100,000 residents,) a 10.34 percent reduction, while dropping both counties reduces the state’s homicide rate by 35.17 percent to 6.070 homicides per 100,000 residents… removing both counties drops Missouri’s homicide ranking from fifth to 20th in the nation.

Drilling down even further, the research shows that violent crime is concentrated, both geographically and within social networks, even within cities. So, smearing “red” jurisdictions to try to blame the crime wave on a lack of gun control is beyond misleading. But of course, that’s the point.

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