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Rachel Cooper

Firearm Death Rates in Washington, DC

By March 12, 2008

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Apparently there are a number of versions of this disturbing information about firearm death rates in DC posted in the blogosphere. I received this email from a reader who asked if I could shed some light on the following:
    Regardless of where you stand on the issue of the U.S. involvement in Iraq, here's a sobering statistic:

    There has been a monthly average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theatre of operations during the last 22 months, and a total of 2,112 deaths. That gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000 soldiers. The firearm death rate in Washington D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000 persons for the same period. That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in the U.S. Capital than you are in Iraq.

    Conclusion: The U.S. should pull out of Washington!
I researched this and here’s what I found. According to the DC Police Department, there were 181 homicides in DC in 2007. The DC government estimates the population to be about 580,000. So, my calculation is that there were about 32 homicides per 100,000 (note this is over a 12 month period and includes all murders not just by handgun). Also, according to Forbes.com the American City with the highest murder rate is Detroit (418 in 2006). Baltimore, New Orleans, Newark, and St. Louis round out the top five. Washington, DC was 7th in 2006. However, this comparison is really bogus anyway because many of the deaths in Iraq are due to roadside bombs.


June 24, 2009 at 4:57 pm
(1) numbercheck says:

You have to look at the numbers over 22 months, not 1 year:

Homocides 2006: 186
Homocides 2007: 181
That’s 367 for 24 months or 330 for 22 months

Population: 590,000

=> 55 per 100,000 over 22 months

Still a bit high, and well, maybe we should pass a law against road side bombs in Iraq. I am sure that will be as effective as the DC anti-self-defense laws.

July 29, 2009 at 4:27 pm
(2) dave says:

That still leaves 300+ murders over 22 months for 590,000 residents of Washington DC, as compared to 2212 for 160,000 troops

August 3, 2009 at 12:21 am
(3) Matt says:

The 60 per 100,000 that is above is by taking the 2,112 total and dividing it out over the 22 months to get a per month rate. Once that it done one must divide that by 1.6, because 160,000 is 1.6 times 100,000. This is where the 60 per 100,000 per month comes from.
Now using the same math process for DC based off of the 181 homicides per year. Take the 181 and divide it over the twelve months to get a per month rate. This gives us an average of just over 15 per month. Now 580,000 is 5.8 times 100,000 so one must divide that 15 by 5.8. This gives us a 2.6 per 100,000 death rate per month. Which is not even close to what is stated. Also, my math can be double checked by multiplying that 2.6 times the 5.8(to compare it to 580,000), and then multiply that by the 22 month span. Once that is done it comes to 331.76 which looks like what is should be.
Also, for there to be an 80 per 100,000 people death rate about 10,208 people would need to be killed in D.C. in a 22 month span based off of a 580,000 population. Furthermore, one can compare the 12 months to the 22 months no problem because it all has to be looked at from a per month rate thus making the total number of months negligent in comparison.

August 9, 2009 at 3:20 pm
(4) David Brown says:

More interesting statistics:

Gun homicides DC (pop 580,000) 2007 181
Gun homicides UK (pop 61,000,000) 2007 57

August 28, 2009 at 6:33 pm
(5) Dave says:

If you look at the homocide statistics in England, the police indicate that as guns are removed, the number of homicides involving knives and blunt objects has increase. In fact, the homicide rate involving guns and knives has remained constant for the last few recording years, eventhough the number of gun deaths has decreased. Maybe the question should be reframed.

September 25, 2009 at 8:58 am
(6) AnotherThought says:

According to Wikipedia, during the work week, the population rises to over 1 million, which are also potential firearm victims and some portion (at least 714K averaging the 5 days of a 7 day week) should be added into the assumed DC population as well…

December 22, 2009 at 3:41 pm
(7) Glen O'Bryan says:

What was I thinking? It all makes sense now. Factor out the roadside bomb equation and Iraq is still safer?!!!

April 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

~~ humans are the greatest killer of people , why not just ban humans , locking them up is not a deterrent , I say bit should be inlawful to be human ..

August 12, 2012 at 11:55 pm
(9) cliff says:

don’t forget to ban cars, as they are responsible for more deaths than guns, duh

December 27, 2012 at 11:30 am
(10) Doug says:

Did you forget to mention DC has the TOUGHEST gun laws in America or I guess you dummies calling for tougher laws don’t want the rest of us to know that in the equation Gun laws only work on LAW Abiding citizens The recent shooting were done by friggin WACKOS If anything needs reformed it’s a good hard look at our MENTAL health policies Not one time can you state a mass shooting where the shooter was sane and in most cases they were known to have severe MENTAL issues oh DUH you politicians get youir heads out of your asses and put something on the books to help the mental health field Try something different actually addressing the problem

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