5 Must-Know Facts About Chicago’s Gun Violence

The city's carnage disproportionately impacts black and Latino youth.

By Jamilah King Feb 15, 2013

President Obama is set to give a speech in Chicago today to address the city’s onslaught of gun violence. Last week I published an in-depth look at how community organizers in the city are grappling with that violence, and this morning I helped give a look at the mounting pressure that led to Obama’s speech today. But here’s a abridged collection of facts on why Chicago’s violence is unlike much of what we’re seeing across the country today.

1) It’s an epidemic. 

506 people were killed by guns in Chicago in 2012. 44 people were killed by guns in Chicago in January alone. Meanwhile, homicide rates in other big cities like Los Angeles and New York have been on the decline in recent years.

2) The problem is stunningly complex. 

Chicago has no civilian gun ranges and bans on both assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. Yet the Chicago Police Department reports that between 2001 and March 2012, it recovered more than 50,000 guns — more than half of which came from out of state.

3) Segregation is still a really big deal.

Last month, the New York Times reported that Chicago’s homicides have "mostly taken place in neighborhoods west and south of Chicago’s gleaming downtown towers." Don’t believe it? Here’s a map.

4) There have been nearly 1,800 gun deaths nationwide since the Newtown massacre in December, 2012, according to Slate.

And that’s an admittedly low estimate. Slate teamed up with the Twitter feed @GunDeaths to collect data for a crowdsourced interactive graphic.

5) Young people are at the center of this epidemic. 

Youth are the number one target of Chicago’s homicide epidemic, according to the Chicago Reporter. The sobering reality: "From 2008 through 2012, nearly half of Chicago’s 2,389 homicide victims were killed before their 25th birthdays."