According to data from the Crime Prevention Research Center, 2 percent of counties in the nation make up 52 percent of murders throughout the nation.
Alabama has three counties that make up part of that two percent; Jefferson, Mobile, and Montgomery. The state also had the third highest murder rate in the nation in 2016 with 407 murders out of a 4.8 million people population, giving the sate an 8.4 murder rate.
According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s crime in Alabama report: In 2016 Jefferson county endured a total of 104 homicides, 78 of those taking place within the Birmingham city limits. The homicide rate was 15.69 per 100,000 people, and to put that in perspective, the national homicide rate was 5.3 per 100,000 people in 2016.
Mobile county experienced a total of 61 homicides in 2016, 44 took place within Mobile city limits, and the homicide rate was 14.71 per 100,000 people.
Montgomery county had the lowest number of the three, with only 31 total homicides, 30 taking place within Montgomery city limits. The county’s homicide rate was 13.76 per 100,000 people.
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center:
In 2014, the most recent year that a county level breakdown is available, 54 percent of counties (with 11 percent of the population) have no murders. 69 percent of counties have no more than one murder, and about 20 percent of the population. These counties account for only 4 percent of all murders in the country.
The worst 1 percent of counties have 19 percent of the population and 37 percent of the murders. The worst 5 percent of counties contain 45 percent of the population and account for 68 percent of murders. As shown in figure 2, over half of murders occurred in only 2 percent of counties.”
Murders actually used to be even more concentrated. From 1977 to 2000, on average 73 percent of counties in any give year had zero murders.
Location is not the only factor in the concentration of murders; according to a 2013 PEW Research Center survey, gun ownership rates in rural areas were 2.11 times higher than in urban areas. In short, suburban households are 28.6 percent more likely to own guns than urban households.
Most of the country has both very high gun ownership rates and zero murders.
According to the data, murder isn’t a nationwide problem; and few people appreciate the large areas of the country where there are no murders.
Researchers say that the problem lies within a very small set of urban areas, and the gun ownership, or lack of legal gun ownership, within those areas.
To solve the problem, the Crime Prevention Research Center suggests focusing on the areas where murders are most common and doing what is necessary to reduce the amount of murders in that area.
Here is the map detailing the counties in U.S. with highest murder rates: