For all its singular tragedy, Ms. Nguyen’s death is part of a tide of gun violence rising from New Orleans to Lubbock, Texas. Coming off a record low in homicides in 2019, New Orleans saw its rate spike by over 50% this year. It is not, by any stretch, an outlier. Lubbock doubled its murder rate, so far, from 2019 to 2020.
To be sure, overall crime has dropped dramatically in the U.S. since the late 1990s. But the 2020 homicide rate “now exceeds the rates of the late ’80s and ’90s, before the big drop,” says Richard Rosenfeld, lead author of “Pandemic, Social Unrest and Crime in US Cities,” a new report. “This round of crime increase is unprecedented.”
This year, 51 cities of various sizes across the U.S. saw an average 35% jump in murder from 2019 to 2020 – a “historically awful” development, says New Orleans-based crime analyst Jeff Asher, who crunched those numbers. A different study looking at 21 U.S. cities found 610 more murders in those jurisdictions this year over last year. In those cities, gun assaults increased by 10% over 2019.
This year, many Americans have experienced significantly higher levels of violence both wrought on and within their communities. Gun violence and gun crime has, in particular, risen drastically, with over 19,000 people killed in shootings and firearm-related incidents in 2020. That’s the highest death toll in over 20 years, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), an online site that collects gun violence data, and the Britannia Group’s non-partisan site procon.org.
This total includes victims of homicides and unintentional deaths but does not include gun suicides. And despite there being no “large-scale” shootings in 2020, the number of mass shootings—which are classified as an incident in which four or more people are shot and injured or killed—has actually risen, drastically, to over 600, the most in the past 5 years and a nearly 50% increase in 2019’s total.
Despite less activity outside with the closing of businesses and schools, 2020 saw a dramatic increase in homicides.
Between January and October, there was a 29% increase in homicides compared to the same timeframe in 2019, according to a November report from the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice. As of December 27, some of America’s largest cities saw dramatic increases as well, including Chicago (55%), New York (41%) and Los Angeles (30%).
2020 has been a killer year in every way, including murder. The United States has experienced the largest single one-year increase in homicides since the country started keeping such records in the 20th century, according to crime data and criminologists.
The grim body count isn’t quite over yet, but the data collected so far is stark — a 20.9 percent increase in killings nationwide, in the first nine months of the year, according to the FBI, and even bloodier increases in many major cities, due largely to gun violence.
A new report, by the Council on Criminal Justice, found homicides have increased sharply this year across 21 US cities with relevant data: “Homicide rates increased by 42% during the summer and 34% in the fall over the summer and fall of 2019.” Other data, from crime analyst Jeff Asher, found murder is up 36 percent throughout the year so far, compared to the same period in 2019, in a sample of 51 US cities. A preliminary FBI report also found murders up 15 percent nationwide in the first half of 2020.