Recently the FBI released its crime statistics for the year of 2015 and for the first time since 2012 the number of homicides increased. In 2014 there were 14,249 people murdered in the United States and in 2015 that number increased to 15,696. That is a 10.8 percent increase.
These numbers also work with a violent crime rate that went up 4 percent over the years in question, and what's more, the FBI claims it does not have a good understanding as to why this is happening. One of the main culprits is an increase in the heroin trade, creating more people willing to do whatever it takes to get a hold of the drug, as well as bringing in cartel members from Mexico. There are of course, other reasons, that normally cause violent crime to increase, such as gang problems, domestic violence, and robberies which also increased from 101.3 per 100,000 to 101.9 to 100,000 between 2014 and 2015.
However, no matter what the cause, it is known that an increase in violent crime to the level we have seen in 2014-2015 is something to take note and be vigilant about.
Where is the Increase Occurring?
The irony of this report, at least for gun owners is that the areas of the country that are being hit by this wave of murders are in the major cities in which gun control is so stringent already. Chicago, D.C., and Baltimore are three huge centers for murders. In fact, over 50% of the increase's cause is due to the higher homicide rate in these three cities alone. As we all know, Illinois and Chicago in particular, have some incredibly tight gun laws on their books. However, this doesn't seem to be making a dent in the violent crime, because how likely is a criminal going to follow the laws anyway?
In major cities, there is this increase, but in more rural areas and in cities such as Dallas and Salt Lake City, where it is easier to get a hold of a firearm for legal purposes, the numbers are much lower than the national average of 4.9 murders per capita. In Dallas, it is 4.4 and in Salt Lake City it is an astounding 1.8.
For more information on which states have the highest increase in murder rates, click the link provided for a fantastic interactive map.
What Does the Future Hold?
In recent years there have been huge advances in how we can track criminals and help to avoid crimes happening in the first place, but at the same time, criminality advances. We are looking at a world that is currently under threat from terrorism, drug cartels, and common criminals that cannot be fully watched due to the random acts of violence they incur. Criminologists and law enforcement officials, including FBI Director James B. Comey, say the causes of the increases are unclear, and they offer a variety of possible explanations, including gang violence and bloodshed stemming from drug addictions. Comey also suggested that greater scrutiny of police had possibly changed the way officers and communities interact, which he said may be a factor in the uptick in homicides, an idea he voiced, to much disagreement last year.
A look at the unofficial numbers for murder as of 10/1/2016 show that 12,813 had been committed in the United States. That pace is slightly down from 2015, but the idea that 12,813 people dying in 10 months because of crime is still a large problem and one that we as a country still have to face. The problem with lowering the murder rate is that it must be done slowly as we figure out more ways to take off the head of the snake, but at the same time, if one problem is focused on for too long, others will pop up. A gradual decrease in crime, particularly violent crime is always the goal, but these things take time, and we can't sit around and wait for the world to get better if we wish to lead full and happy lives.
What Can You Do?
It is not right for Americans to fear many of their great cities. All of us should be able to take our kids to see a Chicago Cubs game or visit the Smithsonian Museum without fearing for our safety. This is something that everyone can agree with, but unfortunately, there is a stigma that is popularized that these cities are just bad now and that the country is too, for that matter. With rising murder rates and violent crime rates, it is understandable for people to have these fears, but we are not a country under siege. The United States is so large and so diverse that we can look to areas where there are positive movements with regard to crime.
It's time that we as a nation take a look at what truly works. It's obvious that it is not gun confiscation and immense gun control. It is having a responsibly armed and knowledgeable populace that is able to defend itself from criminality. It is an unfortunate fact that crime has always been around, and the fact that many officers and politicians are trying to work with communities to help stop crime is good. However, at the same time that we try to help our communities grow, we cannot act as if there will not be a period in which we must remain vigilant. To do so otherwise is negligent and dangerous, and when it comes to dealing something as serious as murder, we cannot afford to take it lightly.
What do you do to prepare yourself should violent crime ever invade your life? Have you felt safer or more unsafe in your city in recent years? Let us know in the comments below.