Urban Violence Spikes, U.S. Murder Rates Back to 1990s Levels

Anti-gun groups have blamed to spike on record-setting gun sales. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The COVID-induced spike in major city murder rates has been well-documented, but new data from the FBI shows just how bad the problem has become.

The latest Quarterly Uniform Crime Report shows a minimum 20% spike in the murder rate in every city that reported data. Cities of 1,000,000 residents or more saw a 32% rise in murder rates, cities between 250,000 and 499,999 residents experienced a 31% rise, and cities from 100,000 to 249,999 saw a 28% rise.

Cumulatively, the country experienced a higher homicide rate than any year since 1998, with 6.2 homicides per 100,000 people, according to the Washington Examiner. That’s a much lower number than 1980’s 10 murders per 100,000, but it’s 20% higher than 2019’s 5 homicides per 100,000.

The one-year spike is historic.

“We’ve never seen an increase like that. Previously the biggest one-year increase in murder was a 12.5% increase in the 1960s,” statistician and crime analyst Jeff Asher told the Examiner. “We’re really talking about unprecedented increases in murder.”

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

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The murder rate also rose in metro and non-metro counties, but not by as much as their urban counterparts. In 2020, metro counties saw a 14.7% rise and non-metro counties saw a 15% rise.

Aggravated assault also rose between 7-16% in all locations except cities with under 10,000 residents, where it dropped 0.1%.

The news isn’t all bad. Property crime was down between 4-14% across the board, rape was down between 11-22%, and robbery was down between 2-17%.

Anti-gun groups have been quick to blame the murder rate on this year’s record-setting gun sales.

The Trace, for example, published an article in July of 2020 linking an increase in gun sales to an increase in intentionally inflicted gun injuries and deaths. That idea has since been debunked, but that didn’t stop Giffords from proclaiming in February of this year, “latest surge in gun sales accompanied by wave of fatal violence.”

SEE ALSO: Mexico Proves More Gun Control Does Not Mean Less Crime

“Communities across America are experiencing a terrifying and deadly surge in gun violence. The increase in gun sales alongside this is alarming. We know that more guns in the hands of untrained people makes us less safe, yet the gun lobby continues to use fear and division to market their products and line their pockets. This is an ongoing American tragedy,” said Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director.

Anti-gun groups are seizing on a short-term rise in homicides to discredit a decades-long trend in the United States: violent crime rates have dropped precipitously since the 1990s even as gun sales have increased.

In 1991, the U.S. saw 758 reported violent crimes per 100,000 people. By 2014, that number had been cut in half to 361, according to researchers at Statista. Meanwhile, the number of firearms manufactured in the U.S. rose from 3.6 million in 1991 to 9 million in 2014. Not all these firearms ended up on the civilian marketplace, of course, but NICS check data confirms that vastly more guns are sold to civilians now than when violent crime was at its highest.

Anti-gun groups have not explained how gun sales account for this year’s rise in murder better than COVID-19, social unrest, and “defund the police” movements. They also haven’t explained how the spike in gun sales from less than 12 months ago can account for the murder rate today when the average “time-to-crime” (how long it takes a gun to move from legal purchase to crime) is something north of nine years.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • KMacK April 20, 2021, 2:17 pm

    While I can understand the intent of the Dem’s to reduce firearm violence by making it more difficult to get one, their view is short-sighted. This violence is part of a pervasive sickness in this country, and manifests as Fear (of all sorts of things). This fear manifests as violence, usually with a firearm, as the fearful person seeks to destroy the “Enemy” that exists only in their own mind.
    This is the problem.
    The solution presented by the Democrats is equivalent to manicuring a gangrenous foot. It does nothing about the problem but it looks nice, and Washington DC has for the past two decades focused on the “Optics” of a problem rather than seeking the cause and fixing it.
    The current hostility between the two parties, Democrats and Republicans, does nothing to alleviate this problem, rather they are so focused on blocking each other that the needs of the country are ignored for political gain.
    This has to change, and NEITHER party seems willing to do so. Perhaps we need new Parties in DC, focused on the nation rather than political advantage. We need something, because at the moment we have nothing and the people who could fix it are all focused on blocking “the other party” rather than what the nation needs.
    So, the Democrats will make gun rules for optics, and the Republicans will fight them for optics and the people will continue to die at the hands of those who have given in to fear and the desire to destroy the fear-thing with a gun. The problem is not the Gun, nor the size of the Magazine. The problem is the sick-o who is holding it. Maybe someday the Government will realize this, but I ain’t holding my breath.

    • NC_Libertarian April 24, 2021, 2:06 pm

      Dude, you need to stop saying things that make sense. No one is going to listen to you if you keep doing that.

  • Gregory Romeu April 16, 2021, 11:12 pm

    I just cannot understand HOW all the unarmed, law abiding citizens keep getting murdered?

  • Big Al 45 April 16, 2021, 4:05 pm

    Yeeeaaah, this really is a great time to ‘Defund the Police.’
    And this is another reason I carry.

  • etph April 16, 2021, 2:46 pm

    This is the goal of the leftists and the elites who want to disarm us. We’re one of the last bastions of the right to self defense and life using force multipliers. The so⎼called pandemic and the so⎼called “protests” were all allowed and designed to skew the numbers in the lefts’ and leftist elites’ favor. But they didn’t count on many of the serfs in their democrat plantations also being pro 2A. This tipped the weight in our favor because even the serfs in democrat plantations are waking up to the reality that their masters can’t be and do everything for them. How do you remedy that situation? By importing illegals en masse from socialist semi⎼socialist countries like Latin American ones.

  • DR April 16, 2021, 7:18 am

    So the government forces people out if work, taking away their livelihood, and murder rates skyrocket. Got it.

    So gun sales jump significantly causing rape and robbery rates to plummet. Got it.

    Good lessons for the history books.

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