Oct 23, 2023 - News

More evidence Indianapolis gun deaths are falling

Data: Center for American Progress Action Fund analysis of Gun Violence Archive data; Note: Based on 2021 population estimates. Gun homicide data as of Aug. 31, 2023; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Center for American Progress Action Fund analysis of Gun Violence Archive data; Note: Based on 2021 population estimates. Gun homicide data as of Aug. 31, 2023; Chart: Axios Visuals

Indianapolis' firearm homicide rate plunged last year after a pandemic spike, according to an analysis by the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: The report argues urban gun crime is driven by macro-level factors — such as state gun laws and culture — and cities have little power to alter trends.

By the numbers: Indianapolis had 22.8 gun-related homicides per 100,000 residents last year, down from 28.6 in 2021, per the report.

  • That's still elevated from past years, such as 2015 when there were 15.3 gun homicides per 100,000 people.

Between the lines: Most other categories of crime have been falling this year, too, per Indianapolis police statistics.

The big picture: Cities with the highest firearm homicide rates are clustered in the South, generally in red states with less restrictive gun laws.

Zoom in: The average gun homicide rate in blue-state cities was 7.2 per 100,000 residents from 2015 to 2022, the analysis found. In red-state cities, it was 11.1 deaths per 100,000.

Yes, but: Gun homicide rates were higher overall in blue cities — as defined by the mayor's party affiliation — than in red ones.

  • The report argues that blue cities differ from red cities when it comes to factors like population size, poverty rate and inequality, and that contrasting them doesn't yield meaningful conclusions.

What they're saying: Cities don't have much control over gun policies, experts say.

  • "There's often little wiggle room for cities to be able to go far and beyond the policies that states have on the books because the cities are required to abide by those laws and policies," said Dan Semenza, an assistant professor at Rutgers and a member of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium at the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

The intrigue: Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett and Jefferson Shreve, his Republican opponent in next month's election, have both pushed for new gun restrictions in Indianapolis, including raising the city's firearm purchase age to 21, ending permitless carry and banning assault-style weapons.

Reality check: Whoever wins will be entirely dependent on the Indiana General Assembly to pass laws enabling Indianapolis to make those changes.

What we're watching: Hogsett and Shreve will compete in a live debate at 6pm Monday broadcast on WISH-TV.

Go deeper: America's highest gun death rates are in the South

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