Crime–And That Pesky Data…

Last year, Indiana held municipal elections, and in Indianapolis, the Republican candidate for Mayor focused a lot of his attention on crime, especially “urban” crime. (Dog whistle, anyone??) Despite pouring some thirteen million dollars of his own money into that race, he failed to exceed the GOP’s baseline vote. Nevertheless, I expected that similar allegations about urban crime would form a large part of this year’s federal election strategy.

I now think I was wrong. Trump’s efforts to destroy a bipartisan agreement on immigration–an agreement that gave Republicans a number of things they’d long been seeking–was based entirely upon the GOP’s need to feature immigration as the campaign issue. Republicans aren’t even pretending otherwise; several GOP congressmen have admitted that, thanks to the lunatic caucus’ intransigence and refusal to do the jobs they were elected to do, they accomplished nothing and have nothing else to run on. So crime will likely take a back seat to the “immigration crisis” –a crisis the GOP has purposely sustained. To the extent crime enters the dialogue, it will be attributed to “those people” at the border.

Still, it’s worthwhile to examine the repeated misinformation about America’s crime problems, and a recent Substack letter did just that.

The letter pointed to another reason that crime rates might take a back seat in the upcoming campaigns: those rates have been coming down.

The number of murders in U.S. cities fell by more than 12 percent — which would be the biggest national decline on record. The spike that started in 2020 now looks more like a blip, and the murder rate is lower than it was during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. The recent data also suggests that the violent-crime rate in 2023 was near its lowest level in more than 50 years.

What about blaming Democratic mayors for crime?

Several Republicans have noted that 27 of the 30 cities with the highest homicide rate have Democratic Mayors. But most cities of any size have Democratic mayors: among the  50 largest cities, 37 have Democratic Mayors. “If you go even further to the top 100 Cities — they have Democratic Mayors 63% of the time and have 76% of the population.”

Republicans have also insisted that an “urban crime increase” is due to the election of “progressive” Prosecutors. The linked letter describes several academic studies that  convincingly disprove that thesis, along with bogus claims that police forces have been “defunded.” Actually (despite one of the stupidest political slogans ever) most police departments have seen their budgets increase in the last 3 years.

It also turns out that crime is lower in those Democratic “urban” areas than in those “real American” Red states.

And for future reference, we can also debunk the “Crime in Democrat cities” by looking at where crime actually happens -— and that’s in Red States.

The murder rate in the 25 states that voted for Donald Trump has exceeded the murder rate in the 25 states that voted for Joe Biden in every year from 2000 to 2020.

Over this 21-year span, this Red State murder gap has steadily widened from a low of 9% more per capita red state murders in 2003 and 2004 to 44% more per capita red state murders in 2019, before settling back to 43% in 2020.

Altogether, the per capita Red State murder rate was 23% higher than the Blue State murder rate when all 21 years were combined.

If Blue State murder rates were as high as Red State murder rates, Biden-voting states would have suffered over 45,000 more murders between 2000 and 2020.

Even when murders in the largest cities in red states are removed, overall murder rates in Trump-voting states were 12% higher than Biden-voting states across this 21-year period and were higher in 18 of the 21 years observed.

Unsurprisingly, the gun crime rate in rural areas is also higher than in urban areas.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Surgery found that firearm deaths are more likely in small rural towns than in major urban cities, adding to research that contradicts common belief that Democratic blue areas have higher incidences of gun-related deaths than do Republican red districts.

The linked Substack letter is lengthy, and reports the results of numerous studies–if you are interested in an in-depth analysis of existing research, it’s well worth reading in its entirely. But one nugget I found especially interesting was the observation that there is a lot that cities are trying to do to address gun violence  … but many of them are  “hamstrung by state policies and can’t control the flow of guns or how guns are carried in their cities.” When there is no local control there’s only so much city officials can do.

In Indianapolis, our urban hands are tied by the gun zealots in our embarrassing state legislature.


  1. Ironic isn’t it that after decades of accusing Democrats of trying to destroy America, it is the current Republicans who are brazenly doing so.
    When faced with facts, they just double down on their lies and blow their dog whistles louder. But keep stressing the facts and exposing the lies. The liars are desperate and are overstepping. They are going to topple.

  2. Those pesky facts keep getting in the way of excellent propaganda. Many studies over the years point to the same issues on crime rates with many different results. The GOP policies tend to inflame the crime rates because of their relationship with the NRA. Not even a hearing in Congress for those goons.

    BTW, those large population centers run by Democrats send more revenue to the IRS, which is used to bail out states like Indiana and other Red states.

    As for immigration, there are labor shortages (apparently) in this country, consisting of jobs Americans don’t want to do because they’re hard labor with low wages. Immigrants fill the void and always have in this country. Let’s focus on why there is such an influx from Central America and Mexico. Are our international policies playing a role?

    Only the GOP would tank a resolution to use it as campaign rhetoric. I’m sure Rupert will be spinning all sorts of propaganda to bail out the Republicans on topic. #pitiful

  3. Take a look at the article from ProPublica that was linked in today’s MirrorIndy regarding the last-minute effort of the World’s Worst Legislature to end the lawsuit that the city of Gary has been working on for 20 years, the longest lawsuit against gun manufacturers in history.
    In short, the IN GOP is intervening three days before the trial is coming to discovery to prevent it from happening.

  4. Todd,

    Today your opinion hit all the nails squarely on the head. It’s why hopeful idealists like me keep saying that everything Republicans touch dies.

    BTW, Jacksonville, FL with a Republican mayor has a much higher murder rate than New York City. Just sayin’…

    “Poverty is the mother of crime”. Marcus Aurelius.

  5. Vernon, the entire state of Florida has a much higher murder rate than New York City.

    If only we could see gun injuries and deaths as a public health crisis. It worked for automobiles and nobody took away your cars.

    And yeah, the bill to kill the Gary lawsuit is tragic. The new law would be retroactive back to Aug 27, 1997. Three days before Gary filed this particular suit.

  6. I am utterly exhausted by constantly being lied to by scoundrels that think we’re stupid. Every claim they make is a lie.

  7. ProPublica has a story about a lawsuit filed almost 25 years ago by the city of Gary, IN. Yes, it has been going on for 25 years. Gary wants to hold gun manufacturers accountable for illegal gun sales. Of course, the republican whores in our state legislature have been trying to help the gun manufacturers the entire time, but haven’t been able to kill the lawsuit.

    Rep Chris Jeter from Fishers has filed a bill that passed the House and will most likely pass in the Senate. The bill states that only the State can sue firearm manufacturers and bans cities from being able to sue them. The kicker is……the bill would be retroactive back to August 27, 1999…….which is 3 days before Gary filed the lawsuit.

    Our shameless red legislature has no limits to how low they will go to satisfy the demands of their campaign donor johns.

  8. My questions for the attorneys – how can a legislature legally make a bill retroactive, and especially for 25 years? It makes no sense to me that they can discard a lawsuit that was filed 25 years ago and every attempt to stop it has been unsuccessful so far.

  9. We have a criminally irresponsible and petty partisan state legislature that uses its supermajority to reward the rich (eg school vouchers to wealthy families) and undermine good public policy in our Indianapolis community. Problem with gun violence? Let’s arm everyone with no safety guardrails like licensing. Improve public transportation? Let a hack politician kneecap what could be a good cross-city public transportation plan and squander millions in federal dollars. The supermajority is typical of the national GOP. Screw good public policy and let’s use the tools of our office to stick it to the other side.

  10. Come on folks, you are all falling into the “weaponization” of words trap…very sad. “Crime” in most people’s minds is not murder. What they see in front of them, and led on by all media, is break-ins, carjackings, auto theft, drug dealing, speeding, reckless driving, etc.. It is up in most places.

  11. Usually, I take up the gauntlet and describe something going on down here that equals your legislature’s actions. Today I concede that passing a law to end a legitimate lawsuit is as crass and as low as anything I’ve seen in some time, although the border deal would be, if it hadn’t been happening since Paul Ryan was Speaker.

  12. Pete > I agree that the position of Republicans in lying about criminal statistics while running an indicted psychopath for president is incongruous but, for instance, an indicted defendant charged with murder does not have the advantage of their indicted psychopath who has been busily destroying the institutions that undergird our democracy with, inter alia, his criticism of judges and juries via witness and jury tampering, threats etc. His frequent declaration that he “has done nothing wrong” is of course self-serving and ill-defines wrongdoing to suit his definition of what is right and wrong, as he will discover when the judges in his upcoming criminal trials instruct juries who, not he, will find the facts and apply the law under instruction of the court.

    I was once in a law firm where the senior member used to joke about a firm he was once associated with called “Vague, Stall, and Delay,” but never dreamed all these years later that I would see such a mythical firm in the flesh in protecting an ex-president from his attempt to overthrow our government, trash our Constitution, and engage in wholesale prevarication to cover his tracks, an ex-president whose conduct or lack thereof makes Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot look like Eagle Scouts, and who, if we were in the days of George Washington, would have long since been hung, but because of the same Constitution he wants to end, he is not only free but even has the brazen effrontery to run for office (depending on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Amendment 14-3 of the Constitution he openly has said he wants to end).

    I think 14-3 is self-executing, but I thought the doctrine of stare decisis covered women’s rights to their own reproductive health, too, but Dobbs has proven me
    wrong and wondering what’s next on the list of Alito/Roberts. Miranda? Right to travel? Racial covenants in real estate interchanges?

    Perhaps Trump if elected will not need to overthrow our government and trash our Constitution since this court can do it for him by running interference in destroying our democracy and effectively ending the Constitutional protections we as citizens enjoy. Perhaps.

  13. I wonder if any business has previously worked for the Trump Companies and ever came back for more.

    Working with him generally results in business disaster—one failure after another.

    If he had liquidated his inheritance and turned the proceeds over to any competent Fiduciary, he’d be much wealthier now, even if he paid all his bills fully and on time.

    His only talent is as an entertainer, and he’s not as good at that as was: “Archie” Bunker, the fictional character from the 1970s American television sitcom All in the Family and its spin-off Archie Bunker’s Place, played by Carroll O’Connor.

    Yet he’s apparently the best Presidential candidate Republicans scrape up on their way to the trash bin of American history.

  14. Speaking of crime, guns & idiot Republicans……anyone else see the article & accompanying video of our favorite State Rep James Lucas’ “discussion” at the Statehouse with some teens who are with Moms Demand Action?

    HOW is this man elected over and over and over again?????

  15. Mary–and all–My friend, Trish Whitcomb, is running against this gun nut. PLEASE support her! (and for those out there that used to be Republicans, Trish’s dad was GOP Governor Ed Whitcomb. Trish is a Democrat because the party her father belonged to NO LONGER EXISTS. It is filled with idiots like Jim Lucas.

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