Violent Crime Trends in the U.S. – A Comprehensive Analysis


According to research, the COVID-19 pandemic saw an unprecedented rise in crime rates worldwide. Researchers have made many assumptions in an attempt to pinpoint the exact cause of this worrying trend. 

In this post, we will analyze these trends and look at some factors that may have played a role in increasing crime across the U.S. 

Crime Trends in 2020

Violent and property crime rates dramatically rose in 2020. In particular, murder cases recorded a 30 percent increase from the previous year. Similarly, physical assault and gun violence crimes also skyrocketed to new heights. 

Most parts of the U.S. saw increased crime, albeit at different levels. Large cities reported an increase of 30 percent, while suburban cities reported close to 20 percent. Researchers observed the same in rural areas, which also recorded significant increases. 

While it is complicated to pinpoint the exact reason behind such worrying trends, many researchers have put forth various hypotheses. Accordingly, some claim that criminal justice reforms in liberal-leaning jurisdictions may have been the cause. However, this cannot be justified as both republican and democrat run areas were affected.

Regardless, we can make several inferences from this phenomenon. Firstly, poor and historically disadvantaged communities suffered the most. Secondly, violent crimes were dominant in the younger generation as close to 40 percent of arrested criminals were between the ages of 20 and 29.  

Fortunately, the rise in crime was restricted to specific niches. Property crimes, including burglary and larceny, hit a record low. The lockdown orders issued may have contributed to this decrease as criminals were immobile. 

Although property crime generally declined, car theft recorded a significant rise. Several factors could have played a role here, including cars staying parked during this period instead of being used to move about. Finally, such crimes are often associated with murder and gun violence. 

Crime Trends in 2021

In 2021, the government changed the techniques used to collect data. The transition made the data collected unavailable. However, organizations like the Council on Criminal Justice are filling this gap by providing information on crime trends. 

Accordingly, a report released by the Council on Criminal Justice showed murder rates in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix are still rising but at a slower rate. Similarly, gun assaults increased by eight percent. 

The data also showed other vices like drug use and property offenses dropped in the mentioned cities. In brief, the rise in crime observed in 2020 spilled into 2021, meaning mitigation measures were insufficient in curbing such vices.

Contributing Factors

With the myths and misconceptions surrounding the rise in crime in the U.S., pinpointing the exact cause could be challenging. However, below are some of the proven causative factors: 

The Role of Guns

Gun violence has long been a significant crime propagator in the U.S. In 2020, nearly 77 percent of murders involved a firearm, the highest figure ever recorded since 1960.

Surprisingly, the same year recorded the highest purchase of firearms. Research at the Chicago Crime Lab has shown that firearm purchase statistics in 2020 doubled from the previous year. 

More research is needed to gain better insight into the role of guns in crime. With increased firearm purchases and use throughout the U.S., prompt and effective solutions are required to reverse the far-reaching increased crime effects.

Reversing Recent Crime Trends

The crime trends over the past few years are a cause for alarm. The government’s previous attempts to mitigate this problem have only done so much. Procedures like expanding the use of pretrial detention and punitive sentencing practices have been counterproductive.

Therefore, policymakers must implement strategies to provide long-term solutions to the problem. A holistic approach that focuses on all aspects of society may be the first step towards a long term solution.  

Reducing Gun Violence

America’s relationship with guns is long and complicated. From school shootings to racial terrorism, firearms have constantly jeopardized public safety. However, despite all this, America still lacks proper gun regulations. 

Individual states are now handling the issue of gun violence by restricting people’s access to firearms. Red flag laws enacted in various states are an excellent example of working policies. They prevent individuals believed to be a threat to others from purchasing firearms. Moreover, the authorities can confiscate any guns in their possession. 

While working towards limiting legal and illegal gun transfers, states like Virginia now restrict citizens to only one firearm purchase per month. Similarly, authorities have collaborated with locals in New York to facilitate gun trade-ins for gift cards. Even though gun laws are challenging to regulate, these efforts could go a long way. 

Final Words

“As we continue to analyze and understand recent crime trends, finding long-term solutions should be a top priority. Only then can the safety of all Americans be guaranteed,” says criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman.  

With the ever-increasing crime rates, it is clear that something is fundamentally wrong deep within American society. Recent traumatizing events such as school shootings call for urgent mitigatory measures.

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