Donald Trump's new outreach to the black community is not terribly nuanced. "You live in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed," he said on Friday about African-Americans, statements which are true only for small portions of the black population. (And the 58 percent thing isn't true at all.) It's a sweeping argument that life is bad as an African-American, the Democrats are to blame, and "what do you have to lose" by voting Trump?
In recent days, he's added another argument, lined up with his desire to be the campaign's "law and order candidate." This is how he outlined it Tuesday night in Austin, according to CBS' Sopan Deb.
"I say this to the African-American community. Give Donald Trump a chance! We will turn it around!" he said. "We will make your streets safe so when you walk down the street, you don't get shot, which is happening now. That's what's happening now."
This, again, is not very nuanced, and misses a lot of context.
In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available from the Centers for Disease Control, there were 11,208 firearm homicides in the United States. That's about half of the number of people who killed themselves with a firearm, and it's 3.51 firearm homicides for every 100,000 Americans that year.
That's about half the rate that the country saw in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the crime epidemic was at its peak.
Those 2013 numbers weren't distributed evenly through the population, though. The number of black men killed by firearms was much higher than other groups, particularly as a portion of the population.
A survey from PRRI and Brookings released in June shows that black Americans were more likely to be very concerned about someone in their family being a victim of violent crime. Overall, black concerns about violent crime mirrored that of Hispanic Americans and working-class whites.
The issue is a potent one, but the number of people who are shot to death is still very small. If we take the 2013 firearm homicide rates per 100,000 residents and graph them against the rest of the population, they're hard to detect.
Trump frequently talks about how crime is increasing, an argument for which there isn't yet comprehensive data. (Over the long term, violent crime has decreased. The number of murders increased in a number of big cities last year, but it's not yet clear what that trend looks like nationally.) He often points to Chicago as representative of the trend, as he did in a Fox News interview on Monday night.
The number of firearm murders in Chicago through August is up since last year, according to data compiled by DNA Info, with most of the victims being black.
Those deaths are out of proportion with the city's population, which is about a third black. Again, though, the number of black Chicagoans killed by gun violence in all of 2015 is a nearly-undetectable portion of the city's population -- about 0.04 percent.
A gun homicide affects more than the victim, of course. It affects the victim's family and community and, more broadly, the sense of security people enjoy. Donald Trump's suggestion that black Americans walk down the street and get shot is, thankfully, only true for a very small part of the population, even in a city like Chicago with a relatively high rate of gun homicides. Trump's political play on gun homicides, though, is the same as his play on poverty and schools: Move to the extreme scenario and push back against it. Leverage fear about the small likelihood of it happening as an argument for his candidacy.
What would he do it about it? In that Fox News interview, he relayed what he said he'd been told by a "top police officer" in Chicago. (A police department representative denied that any conversation took place.)
TRUMP: I know police in Chicago. If they were given the authority to do it, they would get it done.
FOX NEWS' BILL O’REILLY: How? How?
TRUMP: You have unbelievable — how? By being very much tougher than they are right now. They right now are not tough. I mean, I could tell you this very long and quite boring story. But when I was in Chicago, I got to meet a couple of very tough police. I said, how do you stop this? How do you stop this? If you were put in charge to a specific person, do you think you could stop this? He said, Mr. Trump I would be able to stop it in one week and I believed him 100 percent.
Trump's proposed solution could use a little more nuance, too.