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With President Biden signing into law measures to stem the vicious tide of American gun violence, many Americans feel exposed to a ubiquitous yet unforeseen threat to their everyday existence. What’s worse is that now the murders are piling up and their killers are going free like never before.
“It’s a 50-50 coin flip,” says Thomas Hargrove, who runs the Murder Accountability Project, which tracks unsolved murders nationwide. “It’s never been this bad. During the last seven months of 2020, most murders went unsolved. That’s never happened before in America.
A review of FBI statistics shows that the murder clearance rate — the share of cases each year that are solved, meaning police make an arrest or close the case due to other reasons — has fallen to its lowest point in more than half a century, per CBS News.
Policing and detecting crimes involving Blacks proves disproportionate.
As the murder rate increases, police are far less likely to solve a murder when the victim is Black or Hispanic, according to CBS News’ analysis. In 2020, the murders of White victims were about 30% more likely to be solved than in cases with Hispanic victims, and about 50% more than when the victims were Black, the data show.
In Chicago, data showed the Chicago Police Department’s murder clearance rate was about 44% — 16% less than the national average. The CPD data distinguished between cases that were cleared because a suspect was arrested and charged, and those cleared for other reasons. Those cases — so-called “exceptionally cleared” murders — are closed even though a suspect wasn’t prosecuted.
Exceptional clearances are supposed to be rare — reserved for unusual cases such as when police identify the suspect, but that suspect is dead, Hargrove said. That’s not the case in Chicago, where, in 2020, half of the homicide cases police closed were exceptionally cleared.
According to the Violence Policy Center, the Black homicide victimization rate is four times the national homicide victimization rate, and more than six times the homicide victimization rate for Whites. More than a staggering 85 percent of Black homicide victims are shot and killed with guns. According to NBC 5 Chicago, in the last weekend alone, there were three gun deaths and 37 wounded in the Windy City.
Will Biden’s gun law prove effective when it matters?
The new law includes incentives for states to pass so-called red flag laws which allow groups to petition courts to remove weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others. Additionally, the bill expands an existing law preventing people convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun to include dating partners rather than just spouses and former spouses. It will also expand background checks for people between the ages of 18 and 21 seeking to buy a gun.
Though historic legislation was recently passed, millions of Biden’s skeptics and supporters remain in harm’s way of the perpetual daily and hourly crisis of American gun violence.
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