The specialists are perplexed: why so much violence? The phenomenon had started before the pandemic. The confinement has exacerbated it. The United States is experiencing an unprecedented rise in crime for thirty years. According to the Gun Violence Archive research group, which tracks incidents, the number of gun deaths, excluding suicides, rose 25% in 2020, making it the deadliest year in two decades (with 19,000 deaths). And the record threatens to be broken in 2021: since January, nearly 10,000 deaths have already been recorded. The Washington Post, which analyzed information gathered by Gun Violence Archive, totaled 8,100 victims in the first five months of the year: an average of 54 people killed each day by firearms – 14 more than during the same period of the year. six previous years.
In the absence of centralized real-time federal statistics, crime figures are calculated from information reported by police departments in large cities. Whatever the regional peculiarities, they show the same tendency. The number of homicides increased by 33% in the 66 main cities of the country between 2019 and 2020, according to a compilation by the association of police commissioners. The trend continued in 2021: 29% increase for the first quarter, according to the same source. More than 2,000 people have been victims of domestic violence by firearms, an increase of 4% compared to 2019. On the other hand, petty crime – robberies, unarmed assaults – is on the decline, despite the impression left by videos widely distributed on social networks which show young people using the shelves of stores deserted by the pandemic.
Back to the 1990s
Globally, crime remains “Low” in the United States, far from the records of 1990, at the height of the crack epidemic, analyzes Ronald Wright, professor of law and specialist in criminal justice at Wake Forest University. ” We stay at the level we had reached after almost two decades ” of gradual decline, he says. But, if we consider only homicides, « it takes us back to the end of the 1990s ”.
All major cities have observed an increase in homicides to varying degrees: + 22% in Los Angeles; + 13% in Washington; + 50% in Atlanta; + 30% in Miami. In New York, the number of shootings increased by 97% (from 777 shootings in 2019 to 1,531 in 2020). The city is far from the 2,000 murders of the early 1990s, but the concern is real. And experts want proof that the candidate who came first in the Democratic primary for the November municipal election on June 22 is former police captain Eric Adams. Probably the next mayor of New York, he had campaigned on safety in black and Latino neighborhoods. “Currently, more people are being killed by guns than by the Covid”, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on July 6, announcing emergency measures to try to curb the violence.
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