NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

More Crime in Zip Codes with Fewer Guns

October 3, 2014

Chicago's 60624 zip code is the most dangerous in its county, with more homicides, robberies and narcotics incidents per capita than any other zip code in the area. Ninety-eight percent of residents are black, reports Kelly Riddell for the Washington Times, and have a median income slightly above the poverty line.

Most notably, not only is the zip code the most crime-ridden in its county, it's also the one with the fewest concealed carry firearm permits per capita. Chicago's Englewood, West Englewood and West Garfield Park neighborhoods have 114,933 residents, yet only 193 of them have concealed carry licenses -- just 0.17 percent.

Riddell compares the neighborhoods to another zip code in Cook County: 60464. Palos Park has seen only one homicide over the last decade (for reference, West Garfield has seen seven already this year). Its residents, 96 percent of which are white, earn an average $121,000 annually.

Again, a major difference lies in the number of concealed carry permits in the area: 1.24 percent of residents have such a license, the highest number among Cook County.

According to Riddell, 90 percent of concealed carry licenses in Illinois (there are 73,714 active permits in the state) have been granted to white applicants. Why the discrepancy? The cost of a right-to-carry permit in Illinois is expensive -- the highest of all states:

  • Applicants must pay an average of $650 to secure a permit, not including the cost of the weapon itself.
  • Shawn Gowder, a Chicago resident whose neighborhood has already seen two homicides in the last month alone, says that the price is keeping people from arming themselves: "In these gangbang neighborhoods, people can't afford the license. They're making choices between food and medicine, and they can't even guarantee they'll get even that. We need to arm ourselves and protect ourselves from these gangbangers, but we just can't afford to do it."

Until a court struck it down at the end of 2012, Illinois had a ban on concealed carry permits. Riddell reports that many residents do not realize that the ban has been overturned. When one resident asked a city lawmaker to hold a meeting to teach the public about the concealed carry right, the lawmaker declined.

Illinois law allows local officials to deny concealed carry permits for any reason, after which a state review board makes a final decision. So far, the board has denied 800 permits with no explanation.

Source:  Kelly Riddell, "Data divulges racial disparity in Chicago's issuance of gun permits," Washington Times, September 29, 2014. 


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