Dr. John Lott has an op-ed in Real Clear Politics today on our work on the concentration of murder and gun ownership in the US.
The vast majority of murders in the United States occur in just a tiny percentage of counties. In fact, the country can be divided up into three types of places: those where there are no murders; those where there are a few murders; and those where murders are very common.
In 2014, the most recent year that a county level breakdown is available, 54 percent of counties (with 11 percent of the population) had no murders. 69 percent of counties had no more than one murder, and about 20 percent of the population and only 4 percent of all murders in the country.
The worst 1 percent of counties have 19 percent of the population and 37 percent of the murders in 2014. The worst 2 percent of counties contain 47 percent of the population and accounted for 51 percent of the murders. 68 percent of the murders occurred in only 5 percent of counties.
Perhaps surprisingly, murders used to be even more concentrated. From 1977 to 2000, on average 73 percent of counties in any given year had zero murders. This change may be a result of the opioid epidemic’s spread to more rural areas. But no one has yet shown clearly what has caused this change. . . .
According to a 2013 PEW Research Center survey, the household gun ownership rate in rural areas was 111 percent greater than in urban areas. Suburban households are 28.6 percent more likely to own guns than urban households. Despite lower gun ownership, urban areas experience much higher murder rates. One should not put much weight on this purely “cross-sectional” evidence at one point in time. But it is hard to overlook the fact that so much of the country has both very high gun ownership rates and few, if any, murders. . . .
The entire piece is available here.