Violent crime remains high in major U.S. cities in 2020, with homicides up 33 percent year-on-year, according to a recent report by the Association of Chiefs of Police in Major Cities. Of the 66 more populous police districts, 63 have seen an increase in at least one category of violent crime, such as homicide, robbery, rape or malicious wounding. Chicago, Houston and Memphis were the cities with the largest increases in homicides, with more than 100 more homicides than in 2019. Chicago broke the city’s all-time record with 18 homicides in a day on May 31, 2020.
Laura Cooper, president of the National Association of Metropolitan Police Chiefs, said crime rates in some major U.S. cities were higher between January and March than in the same period last year. In New York, for example, data released by the New York City Police Department showed that there were 245 shootings in five New York City boroughs as of March 28, up nearly 50 percent from the same period last year. In addition, homicides in Chicago rose 33 percent in the first three months of the year from a year earlier, and shootings rose nearly 40 percent year-on-year. Homicides in Los Angeles rose nearly 36 percent year-on-year, from 67 to 91.
At the same time, U.S. gun sales have surged. Nearly 40 million guns will be sold in the U.S. in 2020, up about 40 percent from the previous year, USA Today reported. CNN noted that the surge in gun sales may be a response to the chaos and fear that has engulfed the year. The increase in gun ownership has led to more gun violence. Nearly 20,000 people died in all types of gun violence in the U.S. last year, and more than 200 more mass shootings than in 2019, excluding gun owners, were reported.
Experts say the rise in violent crime in the United States is linked to a number of factors. The outbreak has wreaked havoc on Americans’ lives, with some people, especially teenagers, losing their normal social network support and potentially attracted to gangs or illegal activities, according to Vox News. The outbreak has also affected the functioning of the criminal justice system. A report by the American Association of Metropolitan Police Chiefs says that once someone in a police station is diagnosed or quarantined, staff in close contact with them must also be quarantined. In high-outbreak areas such as courts, prisons and detention centres, a number of suspects and minor offenders awaiting trial have been released early.
Vox News also noted that the Floyd case, which shocked the nation, has left many Americans distrustful of the police and refused to cooperate with them, making it more difficult for police to handle cases and target suspects.