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Putting Savannah’s Rough Weekend Into Perspective

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I never expected to write so much about the city of Savannah. Not here, anyway.

It’s a beautiful city, one of my favorite anywhere in the nation, but things are wonky there. For example, they have a mayor who thinks preemption doesn’t actually apply to the city. 

Like many elected officials, he’s been beating the drum on guns being stolen out of cars. To be fair, people really need to stop leaving their guns in cars whenever possible. They’re not really secure there, after all. Where there’s a problem is that he’s seeking to punish the victims of theft for having the nerve to be stolen from.

And the media is ready to help amplify the problem so everyone will support Savannah. Take this piece from USA Today.

A spate of gun violence in Georgia over the weekend has killed two people and injured 14 others in separate shootings, officials said.

The Savannah Police Department is investigating five shootings that occurred on Friday and Saturday. One person was injured in a shooting on Friday, and three separate shootings on Saturday left two people dead and injured another.

Then, shortly before midnight Saturday, multiple people with gunshot wounds were discovered at Ellis Square in downtown Savannah. Police said 11 adults were treated for injuries.

During a news conference Sunday, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson expressed his disappointment over the deadly weekend violence.

“We are better than this,” Johnson said. “And certainly, we will continue to insist that we are better than this. And it’s important for us to act better than this.”

According to Savannah police crime statistics, there have been 12 homicides within city limits so far this year, including the two fatal weekend shootings. That number marks a sharp increase from last year, in which there was one homicide as of May 11, 2023. In 2022, there were 15 homicides by May 11.

Now, obviously, this is a huge escalation. With just one homicide by this post in 2023 versus 15 murders this year, I get why Johnson would be concerned. Except the report they link to only shows 10 homicides as of May 11, 2024. Still, that’s a 900 percent increase, which is nothing to ignore, even if it is 33% less than the USA Today report claims.

But let’s also remember a few things here.

First, Savannah is a city with a population of around 150,000 people. To have only had one murder in 2023 is insanely low for such a population. What’s more, in 2022 they’d had 15–likely where USA Today got their claim from. They weren’t necessarily lying. They just might not be able to read a spreadsheet–which means it’s far from an all-time high.

And with such an insanely low homicide rate through May 11th, it didn’t take much to create a drastic uptick. Even two homicides would have been a 100 percent increase.

Yet let’s also note that while some might want to claim that the problem is the prevalence of guns in Georgia, Savannah is the only city to see such a spike in homicides. Even the one-time murder capital of the United States is seeing a drop in homicides–the overall murder rate in Albany, GA appears to be higher but it has a much smaller population–compared to last year.

So while there likely is an issue, that issue is probably unique to Savannah. If Johnson wants to address the problem, violating state law isn’t the way forward. It would make more sense to figure out what the actual problem is rather than penalizing crime victims.

Read the full article here

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