Texas is a state known for its size, diversity, and history. But it also has a dark side: some of the highest crime rates in the country. According to the FBI, Texas had 1,379 murders in 2020, ranking second only to California. But which county in Texas has the most murders per capita? And which city is the murder capital of the state? You might be surprised by the answer.
The Murder Capital of Texas: Texarkana
The city with the highest murder rate in Texas is Texarkana, a small city that straddles the border between Texas and Arkansas. Texarkana had 20 murders in 2020, which translates to a staggering 55.2 murders per 100,000 people. That’s nearly seven times higher than the national average of 8.1 murders per 100,000 people. Texarkana also had the highest rate of aggravated assault, robbery, and property crime in the state.
Texarkana is located in Bowie County, which had a total of 23 murders in 2020, making it the county with the highest murder rate in Texas. Bowie County had 28.6 murders per 100,000 people, followed by Harris County with 14.9, and Dallas County with 14.8.
The City with the Most Murders: Houston
The city with the most murders in Texas is Houston, the largest and most populous city in the state. Houston had 464 murders in 2020, accounting for more than a third of all murders in Texas. Houston also had the second-highest murder rate among the major cities in Texas, with 19.8 murders per 100,000 people. Houston’s murder rate increased by 42% from 2019 to 2020, the largest increase among the 10 largest U.S. cities.
Houston is located in Harris County, which had a total of 671 murders in 2020, the most of any county in Texas and the second-most of any county in the country, behind only Los Angeles County. Harris County also had the highest number of rapes, robberies, burglaries, and motor vehicle thefts in the state.
The Reasons Behind the Violence
There are many factors that contribute to the high levels of violence in Texas, such as poverty, inequality, gangs, drugs, guns, and social unrest. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Texas had a poverty rate of 13.6% in 2019, higher than the national average of 10.5%. Texas also had a Gini index of 0.48 in 2019, which measures income inequality, higher than the national average of 0.46.
Another factor is the presence of gangs and organized crime in Texas, especially in the border regions. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, there are more than 100,000 gang members in Texas, belonging to over 5,700 gangs.
Some of the most notorious gangs in Texas include the Texas Syndicate, the Mexican Mafia, the Tango Blast, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, and the Crips and Bloods. These gangs are involved in various criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, extortion, robbery, and murder.
A third factor is the availability and use of firearms in Texas, which has some of the most lenient gun laws in the country. According to the Gun Violence Archive, Texas had 3,956 gun deaths in 2020, the most of any state in the country. Texas also had 1,751 gun homicides in 2020, the most of any state in the country. Texas allows residents to carry handguns openly or concealed without a permit, and does not require background checks for private sales or gun shows.
A fourth factor is the social and political turmoil that has affected the country in recent years, especially in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession, the racial justice protests, and the presidential election have all created stress, anxiety, anger, and division among the population. These factors may have increased the risk of violence, as people may resort to violence as a way of coping, expressing, or resolving their grievances.
Texas is a state with many attractions, opportunities, and cultures. But it is also a state with many challenges, dangers, and crimes. The murder rate in Texas is one of the highest in the country, and some of its cities and counties are among the most violent in the nation. Texarkana is the murder capital of Texas, with a murder rate that is seven times higher than the national average.
Houston is the city with the most murders in Texas, with nearly 500 murders in 2020. The reasons behind the violence are complex and multifaceted, involving poverty, inequality, gangs, drugs, guns, and social unrest. To reduce the violence, Texas needs to address these underlying issues, and provide more resources, support, and prevention programs for its communities.