Can Chicago media get their murder stories, stats straight?


chicago gang
Bodies are piling up in Chicago, which is reporting an upward trajectory in homicides so far this year. This image was seen earlier in the year on network news. (Screen snip, YouTube, CBS News)

It was a bloody, murderous Labor Day weekend in Chicago where eight people were killed and 48 others injured, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Only, it might have been 10 people killed out of the 51 people shot over the weekend, according to statistics reported by WLS, the local ABC affiliate.

Or, maybe it was 10 people killed and “at least” 47 people wounded, if one listened to the weekend mayhem wrap-up at WMAQ, the NBC affiliate.

One thing is certain, however, and that is the body count total for the year so far. According to the popular website “HeyJackass.com,” more than 540 people have so far been murdered in the Windy City, and with almost four months remaining in the year, that count is definitely going higher. Of all those people, the website noted Tuesday, 495 were killed by gunfire. The holiday weekend’s first fatality was a shooting involving family members, WMAQ said. The 36-year-old victim was shot once in the abdomen and the shooter was taken into custody.

Chicago racks up more homicides in one year than most entire states, according to the annual FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR), the 2019 version which should be released later this month. In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, only four states reported more murders than the 561 slayings logged in Chicago that year, although CNN put the number at 564. And even then, the number of killings in the city had declined by about 100 from 2017.

Last year, Chicago reported 490 murders, according to CNN.

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms often refers to the number of murders in Chicago for comparison to whole states where gun rights seem to be constantly under attack. More than once, CCRKBA has wondered aloud why such groups as Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action and/or the Alliance for Gun Responsibility doesn’t set up shop on Chicago’s South or West Side.

For example, Washington state reported 232 murders for all of 2018, and neighboring Oregon only reported 81 killings, according to the FBI UCR. New Mexico saw 137 total murders that year and Nevada posted 201 homicides.

So, when it comes to filling coffins, Chicago has most of the rest of the country beat, and it looks like the city is trying to struggle back upwards because the number now is at least 50 more than all of last year. Just for the month of July, the city had 105 murders. August saw a relatively meager 63 murders, the Sun-Times reported.

Still, it might help if all of the city’s establishment news organizations could get their stories straight, or at least get their data to agree.

In the meantime, Chicagoans will have to settle for approximations, and in the death business, that remains “about” as bad as it gets.

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