Can We Credit the New Conceal Carry Law in Chicago for Reduced Homicide Rate?

The city of Chicago is seeing significantly fewer homicides and gun rights advocates are claiming that the new conceal-carry law is the reason.

Through March, there are 6 fewer homicides than this time last year, and 55 fewer than 2012. It's the fewest number of homicides reported in the first three months of the year since 1958.

City officials disagree with the notion that the conceal carry law has anything to do with the reduction.

Citing newly-released police data, the Sun-Times reports Chicago's first quarter of 2014 tallied the lowest number of homicides since 1958. The numbers reflect six fewer homicides than the same period in 2013, and 55 fewer homicides since the same time in 2012.

"This is now the sixth consecutive quarter that we've had significant reductions of murder and violence in the city," Chicago's Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told ABC Chicago in an interview Tuesday. "We're pleased, but of course we have a lot of work to do."

Though the homicide rate has improved from years past, the homicide total is already past 50 in the first three months of the year.

In the past weekend alone, there was one homicide and 13 shooting victims in a 36-hour span -- largely on the city's South and West Sides, the Tribune reports.

McCarthy acknowledged to ABC that even in crime-heavy areas where incidents are down, "perception lags to [the] reality of crime."

"You don't reduce the murder rate in Lincoln Park the way that you do in Roseland," McCarthy said. "Roseland is where we're seeing great gains, but sometimes people don't feel that. When the murder rate goes down from ten to eight, do you feel 20 percent better? No. We understand it."

The city's top cop said crime across the board is down, attributing the progress to better police training and community-based initiatives aimed at keeping kids off the street.

McCarthy also touted the recovery of 1,300 illegal guns during the first three months of the year while taking a jab at the state's new concealed carry law.

McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel both staunchly opposed concealed carry in Chicago, prompting the top cop to point out the department made the first arrest in Illinois of a concealed carry permit holder after the man allegedly threatened to shoot someone in a rent money dispute.

"We're going to have tragedies from this," McCarthy said of concealed carry in Chicago. "The answer to gun violence is not more guns -- it's less guns."

While any reduction in crime is good, and it's always better for responsible citizens to have the option of arming themselves, it's impossible to say whether or not you can credit the conceal carry law for any drop in crime statistics.

The murder rate has been dropping for the last six quarters in the city -- long before conceal carry became legal. It's also a fact that the horrible winter weather in Chicago has played a role in a general drop in criminal activity.

I wouldn't put any stock at all in the the boast by city officials that some of the drop in the murder rate is because the police have confiscated 1300 guns. In a city of 3 million, that might be 0.5% of the total, which hardly makes a dent in guns used for illegal purposes.

But there is little doubt that there is a rough correlation nationwide in states where conceal carry is adopted and a drop in violent crime.

It may be a combination of factors that have led to the drop in Chicago's murder rate. But you can't ignore the adoption of conceal carry as one of those factors, nor can you dismiss the impact of such laws on the crime rate nationwide.