Homicides are up in Austin

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There have been 12 homicides in Austin from Jan. 1 through July 23, 2011, compared with 11 over the same time period last year, according to RedEye.

Citywide, homicides are down for the first half of 2011. There were 187 homicides recorded from Jan. 1 through June 30, down nearly 17 percent from the 224 homicides logged for the same period, according to a RedEye analysis published last week.

Other West Side neighborhoods – such as Humboldt Park and North Lawndale – saw a decline in deaths for the first six months, while Austin was up, with 11 homicides through June 30 (up from 8 for the same period in 2010).

All 12 homicides in Austin this year were committed with a gun.

It’s not clear whether any of those guns were registered with the city.

Last year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Chicago’s gun ban unconstitutional, city officials drafted a new law last year that allows handgun ownership under strict conditions. Registrations started July 12, 2010.

The Chicago Reader’s Mick Dumke recently analyzed

•”Since the law went into effect in July 2010, 3,153 people have applied to register a firearm, and all but 68 of the applications have been accepted, a rate of about 98 percent — meaning the law isn’t weeding out too many potential gun owners.

•”The registration process appears to be involving just a fraction of those who actually own guns in Chicago (see the Reader’s “City’s gun law has little firepower”). According to the state police, 116,173 residents of Chicago have state-issued firearm owner identification cards.

The Reader continues, “The trend is similar to what researchers have found about gun ownership nationally: white, middle-class people tend to have the highest rates while Latinos have the lowest. The primary motivation for acquiring a gun, studies have found, is for sports and recreation.

“But observers in Chicago say there are other factors at work here: More convicted felons — most of whom can’t legally own guns — live in South and West Side neighborhoods, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. There’s also a higher level of distrust of the police in black and Latino communities, which means fewer people there are willing to register a gun with the Chicago Police Department.”

To look up your zip code, click here, then find the map.

the first 10 months of gun-registration totals by zip code. An analysis of the figures, coupled with 2000 census data (the most recent available by zip code), revealed where Chicagoans are most likely to take all the steps to own a firearm legally. The numbers also show that the law might not be working as intended, since a mere fraction of gun owners appear to be playing by the rules, the Reader found:

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