NYC Ranks Safest Among Big U.S. Cities for Gun Violence

By studying cities’ deviations from scaling laws, the researchers established rising homicide rates quantitatively cause more firearm ownership, likely due to self-protection concerns. Easier access to licensed gun sellers also directly drives up ownership, with more access in smaller cities. 

Our research finds evidence for the theory of self-protection, wherein people will buy firearms out of fear for their own and their loved ones’ lives,” said Succar.

The per capita homicide rates in New York City are significantly lower than what urban scaling laws models anticipate, considering  the city’s size  and its gun ecosystem, researchers found.

So while many people see New York as unsafe, our population-adjusted analysis makes it clear the city is doing far better on homicide prevention than you’d probably guess. In fact, it comes out on top of the country’s 10 biggest metros,” said Succar.

“Our study provides a robust quantitative basis for evaluating the effectiveness of local policies to reduce shootings,” said Porfiri. “We plan to expand this urban scaling theory and causal discovery approach globally to decode complex dynamics shaping cities worldwide.”

This study contributes to Porfiri’s ongoing data-based research related to U.S. gun prevalence and violence, which he is pursuing under a $2 million National Science Foundation grant he received in 2020 to study the “firearm ecosystem” in the United States. This is the first of his studies that examines data at the city level. Previous projects looked at data at the state and national level. His published research has focused on motivations of fame-seeking mass shooters,  factors that prompt gun purchasesstate-by-state gun ownership trends, and forecasting monthly gun homicide rates

To see the ranked lists of all cities in this study, visit Github. A summary is below:

Highest: cities that experience higher homicide rates than what their size would predict

  1. Helena-West Helena, AR
  2. Clarksdale, MS
  3. Selma, AL
  4. Greenville, MS
  5. Indianola, MS
  6. Grenada, MS
  7. Blytheville, AR
  8. Greenwood, MS
  9. Pine Bluff, AR
  10. Bennettsville, SC

Lowest: cities that experience lower homicide rates than what their size would predict

  1. Mount Pleasant, MI
  2. Rexburg, ID
  3. Huntingdon, PA
  4. Auburn, IN
  5. Willmar, MN
  6. Fremont, NE
  7. Dickinson, ND
  8. Ithaca, NY
  9. Kearney, NE
  10. Lincoln, IL

Highest: cities that experience higher ownership rates than what their size would predict

  1. Natchitoches, LA 
  2. Bastrop, LA 
  3. Cleveland, MS 
  4. Tuscaloosa, AL 
  5. Statesboro, GA 
  6. Americus, GA 
  7. Brenham, TX 
  8. Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL 
  9. Albany, GA 
  10. Troy, AL 

Lowest: cities that experience lower ownership rates than what their size would predict

  1. Gallup, NM 
  2. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI
  3. Auburn, NY 
  4. Eagle Pass, TX 
  5. Ithaca, NY 
  6. Kapaa, HI 
  7. Hilo, HI 
  8. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 
  9. Lamesa, TX 
  10. Freeport, IL 

Highest : cities that have more licensed dealers in them than what their size would predict

  1. Prineville, OR 
  2. Spearfish, SD 
  3. Fredericksburg, TX 
  4. Helena, MT 
  5. Prescott, AZ 
  6. Kalispell, MT 
  7. La Grande, OR 
  8. Jefferson City, MO 
  9. Enterprise, AL 
  10. Greeley, CO 

Lowest:  cities that have fewer licensed dealers in them than what their size would predict

  1. Pecos, TX
  2. Raymondville, TX
  3. Eagle Pass, TX
  4. El Centro, CA
  5. Clarksdale, MS
  6. Crescent City, CA
  7. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  8. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
  9. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  10. Salinas, CA