The United States recorded the highest one-year jump in homicides since the record-keeping of such data started in 1960s. The statistics came to the fore by data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday.
The number of murders registered in the year 2020 was 21,500, according to the FBI’s uniform crime report. This is 4,901 more than the 2019 data, said the FBI. Out of these, 77 per cent of the murders were committed with a firearm, up from 74 per cent in 2019, the report further showed.
However, the total number of such killings still remained below that of the 1980s when homicides stayed above 23,000 a year as drug wars played out in many places in the US, the FBI data further showed.
The FBI said that 16,000 federal, state, county, city, university, college and tribal agencies have submitted data to the crime report.
Though there is no single explanation in the report for the rise in such heinous crimes, experts point to the destabilising impact of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and a rise in gun sales.
“This jump in murders is just the latest proof that we are experiencing a gun violence epidemic within the Covid-19 pandemic,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement. “This death spiral will continue until we stem the flow of illegal guns and invest in proven intervention programs.”
According to World Bank figures, there were 6.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in the United States in 2018, compared with 35 in Mexico, 27 in Brazil, eight in Russia and one per 100,000 in France and Germany.
The FBI report further showed that violent crimes in 2020 went up by 5.6 per cent over the previous year while property crimes continued a nearly two-decade decline, falling 7.8 per cent. Robbery and rape dropped 9.3 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.