America’s murder surge
Oct 23, 2021 1 min, 7 secs

Why it matters: The murder surge represents a sharp break from decades of reductions in violent, gun-driven crime in the U.S., and experts are divided on what caused the increase — and therefore, what to do about it

Why it matters: The murder surge represents a sharp break from decades of reductions in violent, gun-driven crime in the U.S., and experts are divided on what caused the increase — and therefore, what to do about it

By the numbers: Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics released earlier this month indicates that the murder rate rose 30% between 2019 and 2020

Yes, but: The homicide rate was 7.8 per 100,000 people in 2020, according to the CDC — still well below the peak of 10 homicides per 100,000 in the early 1980s

The big picture: There is widespread disagreement among criminologists about the factors behind the 2020 murder surge, not to mention about what caused violent crime to climb in the 1960s and fall in the 1990s

had more than one gun per person even before the pandemic, but FBI background checks for firearms spiked as the pandemic took off in March 2020 and set a record for the year as a whole

What to watch: Violent crime itself can spread like a virus, as one murder leads to others, notes John Roman of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago


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