U.S. Murder Rate Increased in 2020

Image credit: Tex Texin, CC-BY 2.0 (source)

In the one year between March 16, 2020, and March 16, 2021, there were recorded no mass shootings (defined as a shooting that kills at least four victims in a single setting) in the United States. However, the overall murder rate in the United States in 2020 rose by about 25% compared to 2019. Some cities had an even higher increase in murders, with Chicago having a 56% increase.

Social scientists have put forth several theories about the increase in murder during this period. The pandemic threw people out of work, increasing the poverty rate and the number of people under all kinds of stress—from evictions, schooling at home, hunger, and everything else. Households already experiencing domestic violence and other abuse have stayed together too long because of fear of COVID. There has been a massive increase in gun purchases during the pandemic. And hospitals have been overwhelmed by COVID, increasing the chances that wounded people die.

Regardless of the precise causes of this increase in murder, it is clear that this is a symptom of a sickness in our society—a society that, despite its wealth, can’t manage public health, can’t provide decent homes, food, education, and routine health care for all in normal times, let alone in a pandemic. So, it’s murdering people!