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People gather next to a crime scene as the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner arrives to remove a body in Beverly Hills, Calif., Friday, June 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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By Justin Nix, University of Nebraska Omaha

Homicides in the U.S. spiked by almost 30% in 2020.

That was the main takeaway from figures released on Sept. 27, 2021, by the FBI that showed almost uniform increases across America in the murder rate.

The fact that big cities, small cities, suburbs and rural areas – in both blue and red states – experienced similar increases in homicides suggests that nationwide events or trends were behind the rise.

The COVID-19 pandemic would be one obvious explanation given its pervasiveness in 2020. But as a criminologist, I know that homicide rates are affected by a number of factors. And what happened in 2020 was a confluence of events that created the perfect conditions for a spike in murders.

Stress and a lack of support

COVID-19 likely did have an impact. People were under increased psychological and financial pressure during the pandemic. Criminologists have long pointed to “strain theory” to explain criminal behavior. Stressors – such as unemployment, isolation and uncertainty about the future – can lead to increased frustration and anger. People experiencing these negative emotions are more prone to turn to crime when they lack access to more positive coping mechanisms. And previous research has shown how financial stressors and a lack of social support work together to influence the overall homicide rate.

But the pandemic wasn’t the only major event of 2020 that likely contributed to the increased homicide rates. In May of that year, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis.

Floyd’s murder and the large-scale protests that followed sparked a police legitimacy crisis. In short, this means citizens’ trust in police was diminished.

The ‘Ferguson effect’

When trust in the police falls as dramatically as it did following Floyd’s murder, the general public may become less likely to call 911 to report crimes or otherwise engage with the criminal justice system. Indeed, research by Desmond Ang at Harvard University suggests that after Floyd’s death, 911 calls dropped significantly in the eight cities he and his colleagues studied.

High-profile cases of police brutality are also associated with what has become known as the “Ferguson effect,” in which police officers make fewer stops that occasionally result in illegal guns being taken off the streets.

Research shows that a small number of people are disproportionately involved in violent crime. If this small group felt emboldened as a result of the legitimacy crisis, then it might help explain the increase in homicides.

Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, cited the “Ferguson effect” as a factor in the 17% hike in homicides recorded in U.S. cities after Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in the Missouri city in 2014.

More guns = more gun homicides

There is also evidence that gun carrying increased in 2020.

Crime analyst Jeff Asher and data scientist Rob Arthur found that in 10 cities, although police made fewer arrests in 2020, the number of gun seizures went up. This suggests more people were illegally carrying guns in 2020. And research has long confirmed that gun ownership is linked to higher rates of firearm homicides.

When there are more guns in the hands of emboldened offenders, then the likely result is more attempted and completed murders. That this all happened during the height of a pandemic means 2020 was a perfect storm of factors that proved capable of producing the largest single-year homicide spike on record.


Justin Nix, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Nebraska Omaha

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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  1. Work for 2-3 h0urs in y0ur spare time and get paid 1200 0n y0ur bank acc0unt every week…

    Get m0re inf0rmation 0n f0ll0wing site… 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐉𝐨𝐢𝐧.𝐭𝐤

    • We finally have someone that brings up the Ferguson effect, but still no mention of the corporate sponsored Buys Large Mansions terrorist group or the Democrats that egged them on and bailed them out of jail.

  2. Up 30% up 70% does not matter. What matters is what % of the 330,000,000 Americans were involved in murders?
    The writer cites a bozo who was mentioned in the eariler 8:02AM article pointing the finger at guns. These college guys and their pals get the results they want because they are clearly biased towards firearms. With these guys the gun is always under the bus while the criminal misuse of firearms, bats, knives, bricks, etc. rides in air conditioned comfort. Frankly…they can go pound sand.

  3. Key sentence in this whole treatise: “Research shows that a small number of people are disproportionately involved in violent crime.” Gee, do you think if you kept any eye on or incarcerated this small number of people, violent crime just might go down? Or are the guns going to still be running around somehow resulting in “gun violence”? Also key is that he cites that more people were ILLEGALLY carrying guns. Obviously, most of these folks obtained these firearms illegally. Making more laws to make it harder (and more onerous) for regular citizens to arm themselves obviously will hardly put a dent in violent crime. Hey politicians – start putting the blame on crime where it belongs. On the perpetrator, not the weapon.

    • MrMax,

      All good points! Did you enjoy that, at the end, he blamed legal gun owners AFTER citing that only a small group of people are responsible for most violence and that ‘illegal’ guns has something to do with it?

      • Yeah, that was a total B.S twist and completely illogical given his previous information. He actually made a great argument against gun control laws! Oops!

  4. “And research has long confirmed that gun ownership is linked to higher rates of firearm homicides.”

    Yup…cause we all know that correlation = causation and that university hacks are always objective and scientific.

    We are also all aware that elephants have wings, that the moon is made of government cheese, and that everyone loves it when you pass gas in church.

  5. Follow the link about the small number of people committing crimes. I’ll give you a taste:

    The 1 % of the population accountable for 63 % of all violent crime convictions.

    So, why are they trying to ban guns instead of finding out who the 1% are and dealing with them??

  6. I would have to agree with most of what the article states. Between BLM and the criminal element, I have no doubt that the spike is due to emboldened criminal activity thanks to lenient Leftist-Socialists pandering to BLM.

  7. Quote: “When trust in the police falls as dramatically as it did following Floyd’s murder,”

    When someone writes an article and uses the terminology propagated by the left I tend to disregard the rest of the article.

    I distrust anyone who spouts democrat (communist party USA) ..stuff…..

  8. What undermined my confidence is the cops was actually their enthusiasm for enforcing nonsensical and entirely pointless CoV-2 restrictions on random citizens while ignoring the assholes looting and burning cities.

    When it happened locally, and egregiously enough to make international news, and the Sheriff had to remind the town cops about the prevalence of CCW and the legal niceties of felony assault/self defense at the same time the city police didn’t really get super heated about my former neighbor being hacked to death in her front yard with a machete and the rest of the family being hospitalized I pretty much decided that the cops can go fuck themselves.

    When machete murder (and quadruple assault with a deadly weapon/attempted murders) < mask mandate, your LE is flat out illegitimate and undeserving of… well, honestly, life.

    The Sherriffs are cool. Police are a gang with fancy uniforms. Fuck 'em.

    • You see, here is the problem with your position. Police be they State, County, Town, City or other don’t get to pick and choose which laws to enforce. They have to enforce them all. As to the murder and assaults you refer to, I don’t know of the incident. Where the police PRESENT ‘i.e.: on scene when this incident occurred? If you consider some COVID (not CoV-2) restrictions have the force of law. Police are subject to the power of the politicians and judges in their particular local. If you live in one of those cities, then blame the people who elected the politicians, not the police.

      • Here’s the problem with your position, good Sir:

        1) “I was just following orders” didn’t work at Nuremberg and I’m not going to overrule that court.

        2) There was no “force of law” issue. There wasn’t even a rule. That whole little thing made international news almost entirely because a City official, who happened to be in another part of the park, showed up and told the cops, quite correctly, what the rules were and that there was no violation because “the rule” didn’t exist. The cops then got uppity with her and started making threats of assaulting and arresting her until they were made aware she actually had properly identified herself and that she’s actually their boss’s boss. So much for “the law”, eh? They completely made it up.

        And this happened in small, rural farming town so it’s not just the “big blue cities”.
        As for cops being present, it’s pretty hard to be more than 10 minutes from “being present” anywhere in town… at the speed limit, which cops don’t have to follow when the flip on the bubbles.

        These were choices. Without proper oversight all government agencies are essentially gangs with murky, and often abused, legal authority. They shouldn’t be trusted at all, they should be monitored. Like fire, they’re a useful tool when used properly and one Hell of a problem if they get out of control.

        • First of all, I’m not a “good Sir”. I work for a living.
          Second, stick your condescending tone.
          Third, don’t give me that “Nuremberg” crappola. There is not a damn thing about the regulations which do have the force of law in an “emergency” when an Executive Order is issued by the appropriate authority. Such authority is derived from the laws passed by the appropriate legislative authority.
          Fourth, your “city authority” (sic) has no to issue an order to police, unless that “city authority” is in the police chain of command.
          Fifth, your baloney about the police “assaulting” here is garbage on its face. If there was a “rule” as you call it, it would have been under the Emergency Declaration (Executive Order) which does in fact in such a case have the FORCE OF LAW unless a court of competent jurisdiction states otherwise.
          Sixth, you claim the Police “just made it up.” Horse PUCKY!
          Seventh, your “gangs” nonsense sounds like you are one of those “sovereign citizens”. Stick that as well.

      • The cop on the beat always has a choice. He can be an a.h. and enforce the letter of the law while searching for other violations or trying to escalate a situation or he can exercise judgment and just warn the supposed violator that he is in fact in violation of some law and should desist from such action, the cop stating that he realizes it is (a) a new law and not everybody is up on the most recent antics of the nincompoops we called legislators or(b) the cop realizes it is a c.s. law and while he may be charged with enforcing it, in the interests of good common sense, if the citizen will disappear from sight the cop may very quickly forget the whole encounter. I worked with cops back in the days when they considered themselves peace officers, charged with using common sense to maintain order and tranquility. They weren’t opposed to whacking some deserving perp on the gourd with their nightstick or six D cell Maglight if they felt the circumstances warranted it. On the other hand, if they could avoid wrestling in the mud by verbal suasion, that was the better course of action. I worked with an Officer John J. Murphy — could there be a better name for what I considered the ultimate beat cop. Unfortunately, in the modern police department he was an anachronism. He talked a suicide out of his gun and got a ding for not following department policy which was to waste any fool who pointed a gun at a cop. I watched him talk a truly crazy guy into letting Murph look into the guy’s gym bag. The guy was happy to show Murph the whole inside of the bag and let Murph examine it in detail. Had it been I trying to do what Murph felt he had to do, it would have created an incident and perhaps involved injury to the crazy guy and to me both.

        I always felt Murph could respond to a riot by himself and in ten minutes everybody would be wanting to buy Murph a drink. I might have had to help Murph write his reports but that man knew human nature and how to deal with folks so much better than I it was humbling watching him work. Unfortunately for me, his knowledge of how to get people to respond the way he wanted didn’t rub off on me. Our association together was too brief and I was too dense to absorb his skills.

        So don’t tell me the beat cop doesn’t have discretion. I know better. Too many of today’s p.d. — all branches, county sheriff, state police and city cops — are estranged from the folks they are supposed to interact with. They are “law enforcement officers” as opposed to peace officers. Not entirely their fault. The nincompoops who have weaseled into positions of authority have tied their hands in many of their interactions with folks so that they have only one course of action open to them. They are not allowed to exercise judgment. They do so at the risk of being reprimanded for not killing a suicidal individual as opposed to using some other form of control.

        The article, the topic of these remarks is typical of the gun control group trying to appear “reasonable.” The Second Amendment is clear “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” That means if I feel the need to drive around with a M-2 strapped to the hood of my Honda I have the right to do so. Although if I could afford an M-2 I doubt I would be driving a Honda Civic.

        • On the contrary, Madam. If the police officer is honest and he sees a violation of law, he takes the appropriate action, either an a warning which is to be complied with immediately, arrest or a DAT (Desk Appearance Ticket). He would be derelict in his duty if he took no action. But then people like you expect to get away with any violation less than a felony and even then you want a break. I guess you figure you are privileged. The law is to be enforced, not bantered about. Common sense does not enter into it. In this day and age, everyone has a cell phone which they use to document any encounter with the police and a “citizen”. You are right, Murph is an anachronism. You see police policy has progressed since you and Murph were carousing. I’m telling you that due to the “modern age of cell phones,”
          You see, I worked the streets as a police officer and did the job the way it is supposed to be done. No privileged characters like you.
          I happen to support the 2nd Amendment unequivocally. You go ahead and strap that M-2 to the hood of your vehicle. I’m sure that the police will make your stay in the House of Many Doors memorable.

  9. I agree with most of what the author had to say. Until he tried to put the blame on the legal gun owners and those who bothered to get their carry permits where required.
    Defund, demoralize, and demonize the police, which in turn reduces the number of officers out on the streets and makes them more hesitant in their response to calls, and does embolden the criminal element. Stresses of uncertain employment, or unemployment, stresses of being basically trapped at home, stresses of seeing the criminals running wild in some places, can and does make some folks do stupid things.
    And, yes it is a small percentage of the populace that is responsible for the majority of the violent crime. Most cops, of any dept. or agency, will tell you that they see and deal with many of the same people involved in criminal activity. In cities that have cops assigned to regular beats, or districts, the local officers there usually know who to look at in many cases.
    But, in the end, it’s easier to blame the tools used, and try to demonize those who own them, rather than deal with those who commit the crimes. By the same logic, we should ban automobiles for drunk drivers and drive by shootings.


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