Homicides are up in Phoenix compared with 2016. While this may seem like a chilling statistic, it follows a historic low number of homicides in 2015. The statistics will be used by pundits to “prove” various political theories, such as the effect of sanctuary city status, among others. But we think it’s a mistake to draw too many inferences from the numbers, and here’s why:
- The increase in crime in Phoenix parallels a similar increase in the nation in general. So the specifics of life in Phoenix may be largely irrelevant to the increase.
- The FBI statistics may be interesting, but if you look at an example of the breakdown of race, sex and ethnicity provided in their reports, you’ll find a lot of blank spaces. For example, in the FBI’s 2013 report, they categorize the ethnicity of the victim. In well over half the homicides, the victim’s ethnicity is marked as “Unknown.” In Phoenix, in particular, this might make one wary of drawing too many conclusions from the numbers provided.
Quite apart from the identification by race, ethnicity, and sex of the offender and victim, there are some issues that seem to transcend others. For example, around two-thirds of all homicides nationwide result from the use of firearms. And if you look at a breakdown of the homicides in the Phoenix area, including not only Phoenix, but also Mesa and Glendale, you’ll see that in 2017, the cause of death in almost all the homicides was a shooting. Finally, the homicide statistics over the past couple of years include a number of mass shootings (these definitely skew the statistics), most of which are committed by white men. Again, this is another reason to discount making judgments leading to broad conclusion about issues such as immigration, and related matters.
If there is anything good that can be said about the statistics we’ve seen in recent years, it’s that the number of homicides remains well below those of the 1990’s and early 2000’s. In fact, there were just over 150 homicides committed in the City of Phoenix between January and mid-December 2017. Compare this with the period from the mid-1990’s to 2007, when the yearly homicide tally consistently ran above 200.
Finally, if you want to draw any conclusions at all, you’ll note that the rate of homicides from gun violence in the Phoenix area is significantly higher than the rate in the country as a whole. Someone could conclude that lax Arizona gun laws play at least a contributing role in the problem.
The Feldman Law Firm PLLC
1 E. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004