We Don't Know Why Murder Rates Spiked in 2020

It's bad public policy to leap to the conclusion that we do.


Murder rates made big news this past year, as 2020 murder figures revealed America saw a nearly 30 percent rise nationally from 2019 (after two years in a row with murder rates and raw numbers falling), suffering over 21,000 total homicides. That's 57 a day, with 77 percent committed with guns. That's a shockingly large rise in rates, possibly the highest in over a century. Those figures bring America, after a couple of decades of mostly decent news when it came to murder rate changes, back to a homicide rate of 7.8 per 100,000**, a height not seen since 1998.

The rise has not been restricted to any specific states or parts of the country. Cities from Portland to Austin, Seattle to Salt Lake City, New York to Milwaukee, Chicago to Los Angeles, saw murder rate increases substantially higher than even that high national average. Cities of populations large and small saw similarly big hikes, and every region saw at least a 20 percent rise, whether red or blue.

While 2021's figures from the FBI are still months away, plenty of bad news on that front already seems apparent. This past year is shaping up to have more murders than 2020, though the percentage rate rise will likely be far smaller. At least 12 cities will be beating homicide number records in 2021, including Portland, Columbus, Albuquerque, and Philadelphia.

Sudden, significant degeneration in a social outcome people are emotionally enraged by makes sober, productive policy making harder. Murder stabs at the heart of lawful civilization's purpose and creates bursts of personal grief unmatched by any other human action.

Predictably, the 2021 debate over murder rates featured multiple examples of politicians, pundits, and activists using the crisis as a weapon to aim in whatever direction they were already looking.

Those who believe that more and tougher law enforcement is key to keeping murder rates under control insist it's obvious either anti-police public opinion in the wake of George Floyd's killing or cold, hard reductions in police resources or activity are clearly to blame.

Regardless of attitudes about police or their behavior, other crime measures either went up much less (5.6 percent rise in 2020 over 2019 for overall violent crime) or went down (property crimes down 8 percent, robbery down 9 percent, rape down 12 percent). Analysts have found no consistently meaningful long-term associations between crime and spending on police, either positive or negative.

Lack of necessary granularity is a common mistake in the popular, and even social scientific, debate over crime. Spending's direct connection to policing's effectiveness in quelling crime is tenuous, and you can indeed see some cities with a detectable pattern of cops seeming to be less active in stops and arrests accompanied by higher murder rates, such as Chicago and St. Louis. Police activity's influence on the murder rate is intuitively easier to take seriously than looser measures that are often deployed, such as the number of officers on payroll, the number of arrests, or the total costs of policing.

But this pattern is not consistently and widely demonstrated enough to clearly make recent less active or well-aimed policing the dominant explanation for the rise in murder rates; other factors are clearly at play. Post-Floyd, it seems plausible to imagine poorer police/citizen relations influencing the increased rates of some crimes, with effects moving in both directions: cops doing less proactively, and citizens being less willing to engage with the police, as mutual mistrust flows. While many criminologists think it is well-established that just having more cops around is enough to deter crime and murders, their ability to actually solve homicides is getting worse. Only 54 percent of homicides led to an arrest or charge of a suspect in 2020, down from 61 percent the year before.

Law-and-order types also wonder if recent innovations in criminal justice reform are emboldening criminals, such as looser or eliminated bail requirements. Knowing for sure what effect those might have even in specific areas is beyond the FBI's dataset, which does not tell us how many murders were committed by recidivists or those out on bail. In New York City, some preliminary data suggest that fewer than 1 percent of those out on bail were charged with a violent felony last year, though as a whole number, it was around 250. That might seem plenty significant to some, especially their victims; only one such individual was rearrested for a shooting, though.

We even have some reason to believe certain practices that are deliberately less "tough on crime" limit future crimes, including easing or eliminating pretrial detention and keeping even those who are convicted out of prison itself. Nor do what criminal justice conservatives see as overly progressive prosecutors seem reliably linked to rising murder rates compared to areas without such prosecutors.

If conservatives want to blame weakened policing, people who hate guns and want to restrict access to them point at the fact that 2020 showed a historical high of nearly 40 million new gun-sale background checks (the best proxy for new gun purchases) along with that huge hike in the murder rate. Surely, they are connected?

We've seen a decade of enormous, if not quite as enormous, numbers of new gun purchases without a commensurate rise in murders. No clear-cut and consistent causal mechanism exists by which "more Americans are buying guns" causes "higher rates of Americans being murdered."

Even beyond the obvious fact that any causal association people think they saw between more gun sales and more murders in 2020 seems to have begun that year for some unexplained reason, a 2021 paper in Injury Epidemiology, as Stephen Gutowski summed up at gun policy news and commentary site The Reload, "found no association between gun sales and gun violence….At the state level, the magnitude of the increase in purchasing was not associated with the magnitude of the increase in firearm violence." Robert VerBruggen, a stats-savvy writer for National Review, checked homicide rates and gun sales on the state level as well and found "There's no obvious connection between the two, and the picture is the same when you plot the percentage change in one variable against the percentage change in the other."

Tying one year's gun sales (all to law-abiding citizens, remember, or else they would not have passed the background check) to that year's murders is also questionable, given that we know the average time between a gun sale and that gun's use in a crime tends to be over eight years. Besides, the best data on the topic indicate almost no criminals buy their guns legally in a store via a background check. That said, analysts at FiveThirtyEight are excited that the "time to crime" of guns seemed to be shortening in 2020, with 68,000 guns taken by cops after less than a year since purchase. Still, despite that perhaps alarming raw number, the percentage share of guns confiscated by cops less than a year from sale went from slightly below 0.3 percent of guns sold to slightly above 0.3 percent, and there is no consistent relation across years between gun sales and time-to-crime recoveries by cops.

Those who want to make the murder rate rise about gun policy have had to look, then, to more granular measures. (Though the number of criminologists who seem happy to make hand-waving connections between more gun purchases and more murders to journalists is disconcerting; they should know better.)

Vox is sure it has a more sophisticated reason than just increased sales to blame the prevalence of guns for the murder rate rise. They reported on a detectable pattern of police stops finding guns on citizens' persons more often in 2020 than in the past; in many cities, even as the number of such stops decreased (largely due to fewer people in public in early lockdown times), the whole number of guns found on people increased. Presuming that, as Vox quotes Jens Ludwig of University of Chicago's Crime Lab, police have not "become dramatically better at figuring who is illegally carrying a gun…the implication is that lots more people are carrying guns illegally in Chicago." They found a similar pattern in other cities (including Tucson and Los Angeles), persisting through 2020 for the most part.

As Gutowski of The Reload pointed out in a phone interview, the causation between more people searched by police being armed and murders could go either way. Awareness of situational danger might make more people carry in public whether it's legal or not, but that doesn't make them murderers. Gutowski thinks it plausible, given that people available to be searched by cops in 2020 lockdown times might be more inclined toward lawbreaking tendencies, that in effect the police had, contra Ludwig, gotten better in a sense at finding people apt to be breaking the law with illegal weapons.

Merely having a gun on you doesn't mean you are going to kill someone with it, so the "more people police encounter with a gun means there are more people impulsively shooting" theory requires knowing more about the circumstances of homicides across the nation than we have. The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program does try to break down at least some homicides based on circumstances—for some examples, 5 percent are known to be gang-related, 3 percent related to "narcotic drug laws," and 3 percent in robberies or burglaries. But for more than half of homicides, the FBI considers the circumstances "unknown," so most specifics about the hows and whys of murders remain a mystery nationally.

Even if the intuition that more people are carrying guns in public and causing more impulsive murders is more firmly established over time, it's hard to see what can reasonably and effectively be done about it. Obviously "getting more guns off the street" to the best of the police's ability, as this very analysis admits is happening, isn't diminishing murder rates, and any policy solution involving "stop and harass more minorities on the street under circumstances where cops are afraid they might be packing" has social costs we should think twice about taking on.

As a public policy matter, national or even statewide changes (even if we knew how to effectively use policing to lessen murders without magnifying the negative sides of citizen/police interactions) again lack the necessary granularity so often missing in crime debates. Crime and murder affect different Americans wildly differently, with higher-poverty neighborhoods seeing their rate of shootings double for the past seven years. Murder can be a surprisingly tightly wound social phenomenon. As law professor John Pfaff, author of the book Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration—and How to Achieve Real Reform, noted in The New Republic, it was found in Chicago that "cycles of retaliation and counterretaliation meant that a single shooting was often the root cause of three, or sometimes 60, or once almost 500 subsequent shootings over the next few years."

Criminologists indeed have found it more informative, as detailed in a 2010 article in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, to consider not national figures or trends but "places as small as single addresses, group of addresses, face blocks or street blocks…crime is strongly concentrated at a small group of 'micro' places. Recent longitudinal studies have also revealed crime concentration across micro places is relatively stable over time." One researcher studying nonfatal gunshots in Chicago from 2006 to 2014 "found that more than 70% of all subjects of gun violence could be located in networks containing less than 5% of the city's population."

After studying the copious scrum of commentary, analysis, and research surrounding this salient yet slippery social question, the only proper conclusion is that we don't really know why the murder rate went up nationally so much. It is certainly impossible to point largely to a singular cause such as policing or guns.

This should not be unexpected. The most obvious and important criminological fact of our lifetimes, the enormously impressive drop in crime and murder rates from roughly the mid-'90s to the late 2010s, is still an unsettled mystery to the profession. This is because of the inherent difficulties in, as journalist Adam Gopnik aptly summed up in 2018 in The New Yorker, a field "in which you are studying the actions of several million autonomous agents who can alter their actions at a whim, with several thousand outliers guaranteed in advance to be bizarrely atypical." Even as there are unfortunately more of them, murderers are still bizarrely atypical in the American social scene.

Answers such as "COVID-19 and riots" seem appealing—why not explain a shocking new social outcome with those two shocking additions to the modern American scene in 2020? Whether or not they hold explanatory water—the rates across various cities did not, researcher David Abrams found, seem to march in reasonably causal lockstep with either lockdowns or protests/riots—they provide little useful policy information other than "avoid plagues (or overreacting to same) and riots," lessons important irrespective of murder rates.

Plausible speculations float around though, such as that lockdowns left fewer public witnesses to murders, which might embolden more murderers. The FBI data do not answer the question of how many murders, or how many more than normal, occurred in public (though they do show that of all crimes, 19 percent occur on highways, streets, alleys, or sidewalks, and over 51 percent in private residences). So, like all too much about the whys of crime rate changes, it's a subject for guessing what fits your own sense of plausibility.

This problem of murder rates rising is ultimately rooted in horrible decisions made by an always-tiny percentage of people, where both available data and the inherent nature of the phenomenon make certainty about causes or cures tentative indeed. When alleged social or economic forces acting on hundreds of millions of people are said to in any real sense "cause" choices in small thousands, it pays to be skeptical. And when some suggested solutions involve ginning up reasons for more street encounters between police and citizens who might be doing nothing worse than owning a constitutionally protected weapon in violation of local regulations, it pays to pile caution on top of skepticism.


**CORRECTION: The article as originally posted misstated the 2020 homicide rate.



NEXT: Only 3 NYPD Officers Have Been Disciplined for Misconduct During the George Floyd Protests

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  1. Jesus fucking Christ. Could you people get anymore clueless?

    1. Who would know having Chicago not charge gun fights between gangs due to them being mutual combatants wouldn't cause a rise.

      Ironicallyball these murders are happening in heavy dem areas with soros backed attorney generals.

      1. So many “local stories” with no commonality.

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      2. Bingo.

        How is reason so blind as to not see the largest spikes are happening in cities that have been under long term democrat control?

        I use my hometown of Pittsburgh all the time. Crime up, every statistic for black quality of life down (income, education, employment, etc). If the next two mayor's are democrats, 2029 will be 100 straight years of Democrat leadership in the city. There isn't a white republican holding office in any position within 5-10 miles of most of our black communities.

        So what's their excuse for these black communities continuing to deteriorate?

        1. "under long term democrat control?"

          You overestimate the reach of political parties. Spiking murder rates indicate a lack of control.

          1. And which political party is nominally in charge, sophist?

            1. You think it makes a difference. I don't. You're a loyal partisan. I'm not.

              1. Yeah, things don’t happen for reasons, they just happen.

                1. They just happen and nobody can control them. Not even political parties.

                  1. I apologize for overestimating you.

      3. Yep. Murder rates spiked because of democrats. It’s not complicated.

      4. As law professor John Pfaff, author of the book Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration—and How to Achieve Real Reform, noted in The New Republic, it was found in Chicago that "cycles of retaliation and counterretaliation meant that a single shooting was often the root cause of three, or sometimes 60, or once almost 500 subsequent shootings over the next few years."

        "If he pulls a knife, you pull a gun! Ic he sends one of yours to the hospital, you senx one his to the morgue! If you send one of his to the morgue, three of yours end up in the sewers! If three of yours end up in the sewers, ten of his end up in the troughs at the slaughterhouses!..."

    2. We Don't Know Why Murder Rates Spiked in 2020

      Just consider the Rittenhouse case. This kid was packing a rifle because he feared violence. It is certain that many, many more people were packing for the same reason - good guys and bad - and were expecting trouble. That's a recipe for more violence of all types; people get angry and pull out their piece.

      Antifa and BLM riots, and the responses to those, are almost entirely responsible for the huge increase. The pandemic put many more people on edge for numerous reasons, also an ingredient.

      1. Beyond that, violent crime was down all over the world due to Covid. Yet we are going to pretend that mayors and attorneys general all over the country announcing that they are not going to prosecute had no effect at all?

        1. Most of the murders take place in the household, presumably between family members with weapons that are easily accessible. The announcements of mayors and lawyers is irrelevant.

      2. "people get angry and pull out their piece."

        But it's fear that causes them to pack their piece in the first place.

        1. Thank god you are here to defend the state.

    3. No. This is it.

      Pearl Clutching, just like with the Virus ( Omi-god!) over a tiny number indistinguishible from total population to create hysteria to demand more Government.

      Same old story, same old song and dance.


    4. Lots of words for a black community out of control due to lack of police enforcement due to Den pols.

    5. People could, Reason's editors and writers could not.
      De-funding police so there are less police.
      Prosecuting and send police to prison for doing their job
      Incititing hate against the police
      Ending bail for suspects
      Releasing convicted felons exceedingly early
      Reducing sentences for violent crimes
      Arresting violent protesters but releasing them without charges
      Arresting and holding people on politics not crime.
      Excluding certain classes and races from prosecution.
      Legalizing smaller crimes like theft, looting and shoplifting.
      Incitement of political, class and racial hatred in the nation by politicians
      I am sure I did not hit them all, but this is a good start.

  2. Only 54 percent of homicides led to an arrest or charge of a suspect in 2020, down from 61 percent the year before.

    I'm surprised it's that high. I figured cops just write off most murders as "drug related" and never bother with an investigation.

    1. Yeah, it’s not like cops were told not to arrest “peaceful protesters”
      Was it, you lying shit.

      1. Plus there's other instances where no arrest was made-remember Michael Reinoehl? That guy murdered a man on video camera, and when the feds went to arrest him, he pulled a gun and was shot. He was never arrested, and as a result, never faced charges.

        There's a lot of reasons charges might not be brought-in any justified shooting by a police officer, there's a homicide but no crime. There was that kid in Chicago who ran away and then the officer shot because he started raising his hand with a gun in it. Justified shooting and the cop was never charged. Did we have more justified shootings in 2020? We recently saw three shootings in Kenosha (two homicides) where a jury determined they were justified. So a decrease in homicide arrests doesn't necessarily mean fewer murders are being solved because homicide and murder are not the same thing.

        1. That is very duplicitous. The number of shootings by law enforcement officers is tiny, and an increasing number of them lead to charges -- remember Kim Potter? The "three shootings in Kenosha" led to not only arrest and charges, but a widely publicized trial on those charges -- they were part of the 54% of homicides in question. The distinction between homicide and murder is irrelevant to the change in statistics.

          1. Yes, the Potter trial, a very clear miscarriage of justice in which the judge allowed the prosecution to argue during closing that the legal definitions of negligence and recklessness were not in fact different(they are in fact quite different) but are basically the same.

    2. We had a person - drug addict - who was breaking into cars to get money for his habits. He was arrested twelve times in six months in 2020 and released without bail each time within one day. Of course, he was only arrested for the break-ins he was caught doing. He was not sent to court because of COVID. 'Lesser crimes' were set back on the court calendar.
      This did not go unnoticed among the homeless community. You might be surprised, but addicts and criminals do not look ahead for consequences very much. During 2020 there seemed to be an absolute lack of consequence for criminal behavior.
      Do the crime, but don't do the time was the thought of the day.

      1. "You might be surprised, but addicts and criminals do not look ahead for consequences very much."

        and Democrats

        1. All of this is the fault of democrats.

    3. There's a lot of common facts you replace merit-based assumptions with.

    4. Public service homicides.

  3. "We Don't Know Why Murder Rates Spiked in 2020"

    Doherty and other left wingers at Reason might not know why.

    But objective Americans understand why murder rates sharply increased after hundreds of BLM and Antifa riots (just as murder rates increased following race riots in Watts, Detroit and other cities during the 1960s).

    1. “Pravda” would have been ashamed of that headline.

      1. Yet it gets worse

        1. You know what scares me?
          If Americans really apply wokism
          To the world, we’ll probably manage to do it.

          1. Next thing, they'll be telling us the dead are coming back to life! Oh, wait....Antifa and BLM are Zombies, soooo....

    2. The writers at reason are clearly getting dumber. Not to mention the lack of libritarian arguments. They are straight up trying to impress the progtard at this point

    3. "Cities of populations large and small saw similarly big hikes, and every region saw at least a 20 percent rise, whether red or blue."

      Except that Doherty conveniently failed to ackowledge that Democrats control virtually every large city in America, as well as the vast majority of small cities.

    4. stupid comment. not worth rebuttal.

  4. Like I previously remarked, Reason's recent pivot is against Biden, not progressivism.

    Biden's successor still needs a platform, and "defund the police" is still going to be a part of it.

    Hence, this article.

    1. When have progshits ever backed off a bad idea that sounded pretty?

      1. Ask Camel Toe. Shes up next.

        .The checkout stand magazine tonite trying to frame her as ' married.'

        They will start Messaging her towards normalcy for in THREE MONTHS Joes gonna check out.

        Mark my words...

  5. Let's see: ongoing riots that made it impossible for police to patrol streets and strained police resources, along with conditions that made it impossible people to enforce laws in certain areas (like CHAZ or Portland). Plus a lot of people who were out of work and had nothing to do with their day, going gradually stir-crazy from being told to lock down.

    Then you add the desperation as people are getting out of work because the economy is going to crap and property crimes increase. You've got people responding to this increase of property crimes and riots by arming themselves because they know the police aren't going to come to help-we saw that play out in Kenosha also. Plus you've got general trends that police can't spend too many resources in high-crime areas because that's overpolicing and it's racist.

    But you're right, we can't come up with ANY reasons why crime rates spiked in 2020.

    1. There was a positive surfeit of reasons, most caused by people with more power and funds than accountability.

    2. stupid comment. Police so not prevent crime.

      They respond.

      .You so brain dead that you missed that CRIMINALS DONT CARE ABOUT LAWS OR COPS?

  6. Gee, it's as if letting power-mad tyrants destroy civilization has negative consequences. Who could possibly have seen this coming?

  7. Hmm... let's see... I think it's those damned Republicans it's always them, it's THEIR EFFING FAULT!!! Jeez Reason, what happened to you?! Can't you just name the elephant in the room?! Who else could we blame here?!?!

    1. Not really the fault of Republicans, but they are always poised to pounce at the smallest little Democrat mistake, like shutting down the economy, or encouraging riots, or letting a lot of criminals out of prison.

      1. Not to mention they pounce all the time, yes! As if being innately racist from birth wasn't enough, they're pouncing too!!!

        1. Plus Trump developed the WuFlu in the WH kitchen and killed millions of Americans along with knee-capping the economy and spending eleventy-trillion dollars on something or other!
          Tony and turd told me that.

    2. They'd be real jackasses if they couldn't pin it on the correct group.

  8. The conclusions are not that hard to jump to:
    People with low level jobs were locked out of work and had more time to kill (literally).
    News readers were telling a large segment of the population that they were victims of systemic racism, and that blowing off a little steam, or taking over a few city blocks and keeping the cops out, or burning down a federal courthouse, or barricading a police station and burning it down were no big deal.
    Career criminals were released from prison using COVID as an excuse.

    1. The conclusions are certainly easy to jump to - but does the data support any of those conclusions?

      1. It's DO the data support those conclusions. The word 'Data' is plural.

        And merely the list of the most explosive increases in murder - Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, LA, etc - all Dem strongholds where riots occurred without holding people accountable for their actions, tells the story. I'm sure if you could quote ridiculous increases in murder in rural Alabama, Missouri, and Utah, you would be the first to jump to the conclusion, and be correct.

        1. For someone who is so knowledgeable about data, you seem remarkably incapable of including any data in a comment.

          1. If only there was some way you could look up the information yourself.

            1. Yeah, too bad there isn’t. No one will ever know.

  9. "Cities from Portland to Austin, Seattle to Salt Lake City, New York to Milwaukee, Chicago to Los Angeles, saw murder rate increases substantially higher than even that high national average."

    And what do all those cities have in common?

    The (D) behind their mayor's and council members' names, perhaps?

    1. And far leftist DAs

      1. I think it's considered "conspiracy theory" talk to point out that Soros provided huge amounts of funding for the campaigns of those DAs, and essentially all of the announced that they weren't going to prosecute most crimes.

        1. It would interesting to compare Soros funded DAs with non in similar cities.

    2. Despite a great wailing of "bowf sidez," I note he really only cited Dem cities for the increases.

    3. The also had a healthy dose of defend the police. Even places that did not make significant policy changes had major impacts to both morale and to policing tactics and strategy.

      1. It doesn't even matter if "Defund" wasn't an issue in certain places because riots happened everywhere, which meant police stopped patrolling because their resources were stretched to deal with rioters. Knowing that police simply aren't active in a whole section of a city is a license for lawlessness.

        1. More than that... Mayors told the police to stand down. Hard to do "neighborhood policing" if the boss says to stay in the precinct parking lot.

    4. black.


      Dont believe it? Check FBI stats.

      And no, Im not the white genocide troll.

      Just a realist.

      1. Portland is one of the whitest cities in the US, so it's not simply black people. It is Progressive policies (that blacks often vote for) that make the place a shit-hole. See San Fransicko by Michael Shellenberger.

  10. Oh, wait. I know!
    Because more people got shot.
    (is there a prize?)

    1. I believe we're supposed to refer to that as "the jab" now.

      1. cherry picking...yawn

      2. Some people refer to it as "the jab"...usually found loitering around pizza parlors in QAnon shirts awaiting the Second Coming of JFK Jr.

  11. Every day, I tell myself the world has reached it's peak stupid. There is NO WAY it could be any more stupid. This article is today's example that I was wrong yesterday. FFS Brian, don't let your lying eyes deceive you!

    1. I was briefly optimistic about the last few articles here, but I see editorial powers have swiftly corrected course.

  12. happy new year everyone!

    1. I was hoping it would be, but Newsom's still there.

      1. With global warming on the horizon, I can at least look forward to the odds of his hair gel spontaneously combusting increasing.

    2. Not a chance. It's going to get worse. Much worse.

    3. the previous ones down the shitter, why not?

  13. Law-and-order types also wonder if recent innovations in criminal justice reform are emboldening criminals, such as looser or eliminated bail requirements...That might seem plenty significant to some, especially their victims; only one such individual was rearrested for a shooting, though.

    Have we decided to call that delightful young man in Waukesha who mowed over six white people a murderer yet? It would not surprise me if his body count was lumped in with automobile deaths. Clearly bail reform did not contribute to his incident; I can't help but think more gun control could have set him straight.

    1. And if a single one of the victims smoked, the entire lot will be 'smoking related', and then double-counted as 'dying with Covid' if any were infected!
      Tin-pot-dictator wannabes ain't nothing without scare tactics!

    2. And of course if we release rioters - but not those nasty insurrectionists - without bail same day, they're certain to learn their lessons and resume their fiery, but mostly peaceful protests with utmost courtesy and respect for the law so as not to continually cause massive property damage to completely innocent people.

    3. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with reason? Look, I admit that there's need for criminal justice reform, but pooh-poohing legitimate criticisms doesn't help your side, it makes you look like an elitist ass.

      Oh and by the way, focusing on the one guy who was rearrested for shooting, not the best argument. After all, there are other crimes besides shooting and other ways to kill as well.

  14. I guess it will forever remain a mystery.

  15. Oh, of course we know! It was the dark magic of the Mean Tweets!

  16. This years Fox Butterfield award goes to Brian Doherty.

    1. I think that's being generous. This is far beyond simply being obtuse.

    2. Not the Walter Duranty Award, with a Gold-plated broken egg in a skillet? Or the P.T. Barnum Award, with a Gold-plated all-day sucker?

  17. Conservatives have it all figured out. If the city passed bail reform, it's bail reform's fault, even if passed years ago without a rise in crime until 2020, and everywhere else, it's either a coincidence, or because cops are scared of a 1% chance of being held accountable for egregious excessive force, meaning they "can't" do their job.

    1. Leftists lives have negative value, and are a threat to all decent humans.

    2. that was rambling bullshit.

      Put the spray paint filled bag down, breathe deep then try again.

      Huffing kills brain cells.

    3. What bail reforms are you referring to?

      1. Reality. As in he bailed out of it.

  18. I blame SUVs.

  19. We ABSOLUTELY know where, why and who is causing the majority of violent crime.

    Black neighborhoods represent almost 60% of all violent crime and murder combined even though those causing the issue...Black males between the ages of 17-33 are about 4% of the population.

    It's the gangbang's not hard to explain or figure out.

    Lowering standards, refusing to fail, arrest hold without bail, early release is what's causing the issue.

    A SPIKE in murder of 26% NATIONWIDE is a pattern...Especially if it's in the same places and committed by the same group of people as a whole.

    In fact, these neo liberal policies have only HURT the black community...Guess where the parolees, crazies and jail birds go to commit a large part of their crimes?

    In their neighborhoods, among their friends and family.

    This has only started being seriously looked at once the blacks started doing group robberies and home invasions OF RICH AREAS.

    NOW the rich want it fixed and put back how it was.

    1. In fact, these neo liberal policies have only HURT the black community...Guess where the parolees, crazies and jail birds go to commit a large part of their crimes?

      Racists gotta racist.

      1. You don't exactly say he's wrong, just imply that he's unclean for the thought.

        1. My point was that enacting policies that explicitly hurt the black community can be, and often are, racist.

          1. Yea and this is shown in the recidivism rates.


            Depending which city you look at, between 40-60% of violent crimes are being committed by repeat offenders.

            Cue the Waukesha coach passenger who happened to be in the driver's seat while his motor powered carriage careened into young white female potential Republicans.

    2. ...ONLY when it encroaches on THEIR neighborhood...

      Mr. Roberts dont want no gang bangin near his railroad tracks.

  20. But for more than half of homicides, the FBI considers the circumstances "unknown," so most specifics about the hows and whys of murders remain a mystery nationally.

    The FBI data do not answer the question of how many murders, or how many more than normal, occurred in public (though they do show that of all crimes, 19 percent occur on highways, streets, alleys, or sidewalks, and over 51 percent in private residences)

    Talk about a massive fail. Half of homicides occur in private residences and half of homicides are 'circumstances unknown'? Obviously those two halves aren't overlapping - but nor do I expect them to be anti-overlapping. And at least re the private residences locations are those the locations that grew? Are the general circumstances - stranger or probably known by family?

    It's almost like - understanding homicides has now become as wrapped up in political polarization as everything else so that no one really wants to know any agreed-upon facts.

    1. The article goes to great pains to dissociate the large increase in gun ownership with the increase in murder rates. But it seems plausible to me that the psychology behind the decision to get a gun, fear, distrust, uncertainty, is related to the murder increase. So increasing gun ownership doesn't cause increasing murder. But increasing fear does cause both gun buying and murder.

  21. Covid-related homicides.

    1. EXACTLY.

      Fuck with peoples minds long enough they go off.

      Only shallow isolated self absorbed dimwits cant ' figger' it out!

      The Moron interviewed on TV cries " its senseless."

      No, they are brainless and clueless.

  22. When our leaders are lawless, why should anyone else be?

    1. Sad but true. And when our leaders craft bad or outright malicious laws, lawlessness is just.

      1. +1 x 10 58th power

  23. Lots of unemployed young men thanks to COVID lockdowns.

    1. Just about everyone is hiring where I live. I had to pick up a new fridge for a rental house earlier this week. The store couldn’t deliver it til the 13th. I asked if they were really that busy, and was told that half the problem is a shortage of drivers. They are also short sales and administrative staff. This is with a starting wage of over $20 per hour.

      Every business where I’ve talked to someone has had a similar shortage of workers. And I see signs advertising open positions all over town.

  24. >Sudden, significant degeneration in a social outcome people are emotionally enraged by makes sober, productive policy making harder.


    1. Read that 3 times. Still baffled.

      1. Bad translation from Mandarin.

    2. computer generated Talking points strung together..

    3. Paid by the word?

    4. I was going to remark too about how difficult that sentence was to parse, but then I figured, nah, it must be just me. Guess it wasn't.

  25. Come on man! It’s just the delayed effect from repealing Net Neutrality.

    1. Yeah, being charged by the email or text is sure to send all the TikToc kids over the edge!

  26. I think Reason is in a bit of a quandary here. On the one hand they're bound to defend 2A. On the other they're bound to defend Soros prosecutors, no bail, and mostly peaceful riots. So why are murder rates like way up? Sadly, we may never know.

    1. Mean tweets are upsetting.

    2. "How Many licks?..."

      The original Tootsie Pop Commercial (1970)

  27. A certain baseline of the increase was because of the massive unemployment caused by lockdowns, mask wearing becoming normalized and thus increased anonymization of the general populace, and courts and jails working slower and letting people out because of COVID fears. The massive spikes above that baseline however were because of the defund the police movements and the actions of leftist Soros-funded DAs.

    1. "The massive spikes above that baseline however were because of the defund the police movements and the actions of leftist Soros-funded DAs"

      Youre the second idiot posting that lie which is purely political Police State Worship.

      Without proof.

      Criminals dont care about cops or laws.

      Thats why they are CRIMINALS.


      1. Criminals dont care about cops or laws.

        They care about getting caught.

        1. they do mlnot else they wouldnt do crime.You are projecting yourattitudes and beliefs on them
          Horrifying ignorance.

          Its good you have that belief. It makes you normal.

          They arent.

          But fools like you HIDE from the ugly reality of real world crime by inventing coping mechanisims like that.

          1. I'm really struggling with the logic here.

            If one actively evades detection and capture by state authorities, it's usually because they care about not being incarcerated for their actions. They accept the risk for their actions, but still scatter like roaches when blue and red lights flash.

            If you have a different set of definitions it would be good to elaborate on that.

            1. Your problem is that you expect logic from a Prog. Doncha know that logic is white supremacy in action?

              1. I don’t think Daveca is a prog.

                1. yes but you think and read.

                  Big Ts just superficially reactionary.

                  But a Good Egg in general which is why I havent gone off in him/ her / it

                  ( Im just trying to " embrace inclusivity..." isnt that the " in " thing?)

      2. "As we will see later in this chapter, it is a central tenet of symbolic interactionist labelling theory, that individuals become criminalized through contact with the criminal justice system (Becker, 1963). "

        Its called a " book"
        .learn to read then try it.

        1. Just curious Dave, what are your New Years plans?

        2. By contact with the criminal justice system do you mean when they are collared for rape, larceny, assault, or something similar? The first of these makes them a criminal, so technically, having been convicted of a crime makes them a criminal.

          Do they they get worse in prison? Likely yes.

      3. When they are in jail because they can't post bail, it's really fucking hard for them to commit more crimes against the civilian populace you dumb motherfucker.

        1. And if jail were actually a punishment, they would not be so confortable returning... Much work to be done.

        2. Like Darrell Brooks? He was released on $1000 bail on a domestic abuse charge (one of a long, long list of past crimes) and proceeded to run down and kill 6 people in Waukesha WI.

          1. Wasn't his bail for running someone over with that same SUV?

          2. Yes, a bail that should have at least have been 20k. Assault with a deadly weapon shouldn't be cheap.

            1. they dont pay the $ 20K.
              Just a fraction OF it...

              Theres a big problem

  28. 7.8 murders PER CAPITA? I must have been murdered by now. 7.8 times, no less!

    1. the 0.8 one is " feeling better" now.

    2. It is now corrected. This helps show they read the comments.

  29. This is a fun media parlor trick.

    Us: You keep going down this path, murder and crime rates are going to spike in 2020.

    Media: Shut the fuck up.

    murder and crime rates spike.

    Media: We have no idea why they spiked! Quit jumping to konklooshunz.

    1. U forgot " bowf sidez"

      That Blame cant Storm itself.

  30. How about the murder rates in other countries? Maybe it was a worldwide phenomenon, in which case it's silly to fixate on purely national factors, though there's a great tendency to do so in the USA.

    Either a lot of people felt like killing people, or a lot of people needed killing that year. Whether nationally or worldwide, we should look at both ends of the causal chain: murderer and murderee.

    1. You are forgetting (or intentionally ignoring) the Antifa/BLM peaceful protests.

        1. This is concerning.

      1. Who said I'm ignoring them? I'd like to help figure out how big a factor they were by correlating the murder increases with the countries in which the antifa and BLM riots took place. Antifa's active (and presumably rioting) in many countries; BLM might be just an American thing, I don't know.

    2. Pretty much everywhere else in the world Violent crime was down.

      I'm pretty sure there were even articles to that effect Last summer Right here and reason magazine.

      1. That's interesting! Why didn't Doherty mention that? It means the increase is an American thing, which points to some domestic factors. So if antifa's been rioting in many countries, if there's only this effect here, then it would seem the riots are not a factor.

        1. Compared to the US the demonstrations elsewhere were tame. They defaced or damaged some statues in the UK. They didn't burn government buildings, torch police cars, assault police or just about anyone who got in the way, they didn't try to intimidate citizens who were peacefully having dinner, and they didn't attack elected officials in their homes. Doherty left out a lot of pertinent information because he has an agenda (and wants to be invited to DC cocktail parties) for so-called 'social' justice.

          1. quite a liar there...

            " . They didn't burn government buildings, torch police cars, assault police or just about anyone who got in the way"

            You dont keep up on UK News do you?

            Torched 5G towers.

        2. Factors in the US. Education, social media and news media, entertainment media reinforcement of education agenda/narratives. Rapid spread of irrational false narratives via social media. Reflexive acceptance of false narrative. There have been, and are other nations that have had nationalized modes of thought like this, but none of them is held up in a positive light.

      2. it wasnt up here euther...

        Fake news

  31. Hells bells I feel like killing soneone daily.

    The only reason some people are still alive us its illegal to kill them.

    In some parts of Kentucky, " he needed a good killin'" is a valid legal defense.

    That all is my way of saying " let Liberal run cities descend into a bloodbath, my Give a Damns busted."

    1. Could it be that in the past 2 years there's been an increase in the USA in people who need killing? Like people are suddenly getting jerkier? And not in other countries, where commenters note that violence is down?

      Might it even be that the extra murders are a salutary thing? Like the people who were murdered were more of a bother than they were worth, and we're finally getting around to eliminating them?

      1. Jesus, deliver me from thinking that way. Amen.

        1. You got owned...


        2. "If Jesus Saves, then he better save himself, from the gory glory-seekers who use his name in death..." -Jethro Tull.

      2. the people who were murdered were more of a bother than they were worth

        As is often the case, a great fraction of the people murdered were innocent blacks. Do you think they are a bother?

        Your sickness and ignorance are showing.

        1. could se be roght and you an arrogant patronizing fool living in denial?

          Survey says YES

        2. I am inclined to think Roberta's tongue was thoroughly in her cheek. She doesn't strike me as one of the "heliocopter pilot" crowd.

      3. Roberta

        Thanks I needed that LOL.

        Fortunately I didnt have a mouth ful of coffee when I read that...


      4. PS

        The Radical Left :

        " druggies and criminals DONT need kilked."

        " innocent un- born babies DO need killed."

        Houston theres a problem.

  32. There IS a singularity coming.

    There WILL be such a collapse. History proves it. 1798.

    Then the assholes in the picture above bleating like sheep for cops to disarm people and save them WILL be in deep trouble when they find themselves face down in the same cesspool the criminal element are in.

    A cant handle it. B thrive in it. Natural selection has already declared the winners...the ones who can cope.

    The sooner you IDIOTS learn that COPS CREATE CRIME TO HAVE JOBS THEN RUN AWAY AND HIDE WHEN IT BACKFIRES ON SOCIETY the better prepared youll be.

    Ask Kennesaw Ga.

    1. You e revealed yourself to be the actual idiot, in all caps no less. Amazing how these fools reveal themselves with little or no prodding.

      1. hi troll. Now deposit 50 cents and try a comment ON TOPIC

  33. We had the same number of murders in 2020 as in 2019. Just twenty-two. And still the lowest overall crime rate.

    Someone did hang the governor in effigy in 2020.

    1. Did the efgigy need a good hanging?

      I recall two years ago when the left created the false rumour of hangings, the morons at Home Depot either removed or locked up ROPE.

      AND 550 CORD.


      Jeebus X Cripes what IDIOTS.

      There sone serious mental problems out there

    2. Who's 'we'? Where is this comparatively peaceful place when put against North Carolina?

  34. Actually, per the best source of violent crime in the US, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) 2020 Victimization Survey, violent crime was significantly down. Here a link to the Summary:

    I'm pretty sure I've posted this as well as links to the full report elsewhere on this site in the past. We should try to work from the best data.

    Why was violent crime down so much? I'd assume that the lockdowns were the key. People were spending a lot of time at home and in the US, the fact that around half of all homes have firearms was long ago shown to be the major reason that in the US, there is a very low rate of break-ins of occupied homes. Criminologists Wright and Rossi discussed this more than 30 years ago. The huge deterrent effect of gun ownership, particularly in this area, is well established and is among the data that changed my views on the value of gun ownership and carry more than 30 years ago.

    The key question is, why (per the FBI UCR), did homicides rise around 30%? I offer a hypothesis. A key driver of violent crime is the black market in drugs. We know that there were all sorts of supply chain difficulties during and after the shutdowns. Why is no one looking at the likelihood that the supply of illegal drugs (including fentanyl - aka, "China White") was also disrupted? Seems to me that if there is less product to meet the demand there will be more battle over markets and such battle will be violent, as black markets always are. The economic effects alone are a likely explanation. I leave this investigation to the student...or maybe the "public intellectuals" who get paid to do this. I'm a bit surprised that REASON doesn't have people looking at this.

    One other item is that we know from the FBI Quarterly homicide reports that homicides are up this year. The BJS Criminal Victimization reports for 2021 won't be published until October 2022. However, I expect the BJS to show all non-homicide crime to be up. Forget about the whole police thing. The most important factor, aside from a rebound from the anomalous DROP in violent crime is that in 2006, the US total fertility rate was ABOVE the replacement rate for the first time in 35 years. Males aged 15-24 commit the lion's share of violent crime and you'll observe that a surge of 15-year-old males has come of age this year.

    Demographics and socioeconomic factors are the best predictors of crime - not how many police there are.

    1. Wow finally..

      FACTS! Thanks!

      Not Red Meat reporting.

      1. ". Why is no one looking at the likelihood that the supply of illegal drugs (including fentanyl - aka, "China White") was also disrupted? "

        Short answer- they dont want to.

        Long answer- they dont want to since the cure is closing the borders.

        Democrats are stuck on keeping borders open to destroy the nation.

      2. Wow finally confirmation bias that works for you! Congrats.

    2. Homicides are up and other crimes are down because you cannot effectively under-count or fail to report dead bodies. People don't bother to report crimes if they do not believe anything will come of it. Over the past decade, cops have learned that hard work yields complaints and problems. Criminals get released for a variety of reasons despite their best efforts, so they have pulled back. In many cities they are ordered NOT to enforce laws. The last two years this accelerated. Years ago cops are ordered to get out of their cars and proactively police by contacting the public. Broken Window theory was basic good police work. Don't ignore small stuff. Contacting gangbangers whenever and wherever possible makes it difficult to carry weapons. Crime is out of control for a lot of reasons which all come down to no citizen, cop or crook thinks there will be any consequences. (Random killing = low homicide arrest rate. Years ago you looked into the victim's life and usually found the killer.)

      1. Your statement: "Homicides are up and other crimes are down because you cannot effectively under-count or fail to report dead bodies." Did you see what I posted? The source was the BJS Crime Victimization SURVEY. I actually studied Criminology over 50 years ago and at that time, your statement would have been correct. The survey methodology was derived to account for UNREPORTED crimes. Note that the survey methodology was a key element demonstrating the high rate of defensive gun uses. This is among the best empirical evidence for citizen carry.

        It is certainly the case that like any survey, the instrument needs to be carefully designed and it needs to be consistent. I will note that Gary Kleck's early work on defensive gun use produced a very high number (over 2 million if I recall and probably erroneous). Also, given the highly charged politics, the BJS "response" was to produce a ridiculously low value. In recent years Kleck and others have produced lower but significant values for defensive use and BJS has come up but the results remain significantly lower. I'm no longer directly involved in any of this so I don't bother to compare surveys and how they differ. I will say that I don't think the evidence for defense use has proven to be statistically significant as a deterrent to crime - it is not any better than police presence, which, contrary to what a lot of folks post here, is also not statistically significant.

        Final comment is that the socioeconomic and demographic data is defective to the extent that we have categories like "white" and "black or African-American". I'm pretty sure I've posted about this before. People with black skin whose ancestors were Afro-Caribbean or recent immigrants from Africa have low crime rates and their socioeconomic status is similar to "whites". This is one of the major problems with the claim of "systemic racism". Every now and then REASON touches on this but doesn't seem to draw any useful conclusions. The is racism present but it is in the broad categories built around skin color that we should have ditch back in the 1970s.

        Someone with REASON should be talking about this.

        1. This just anecdotal, of course, but I've noticed that my immigrant customers from the Caribbean and Africa are among the friendliest and happiest people I ever meet in the store! They are even happier when they hear that I speak French! They don't come in the store with a chip on their shoulder trying to "buck up" on other people. So there is one more feather in your cap to prove what you are saying.

    3. Putting data into the hands of people who don’t understand it and have a predisposition to a certain conclusion is worse than no data at all and basic common sense. As Mark Twain, once said: “…lies, damn lies and statistics.”

    4. The most important factor, aside from a rebound from the anomalous DROP in violent crime is that in 2006, the US total fertility rate was ABOVE the replacement rate for the first time in 35 years. Males aged 15-24 commit the lion's share of violent crime and you'll observe that a surge of 15-year-old males has come of age this year.

      Wow! That is interesting to hear. It would not only account for the crime, but is an excellent refutation of all the Nervous-Nellies saying that America and "the White race" are doomed to be "replaced" and there needs to be "Pro-Natalist" policies encouraging more childbirth, never mind quality or upbringing.

      So what are your thoughts about journalist Stephen J. Dubner and economist Steven D. Levitt, the authors of Freakonomics, whose thesis is that crime started dropping in the Nineties because many in the demographic age group most likely to commit crimes were never born, due to The Pill and Roe v. Wade?

      I'd love to hear more on what you have to say on this and many other topics.

      Please don't be a stranger! As you can probably tell, the Reason Comments section desparately needs people who actually use their Reasoning minds.

    5. To add to what you are saying, if the supply chain is disrupted with increased supply, that would mean higher prices as well as turf wars over supply. The higher prices, in turn, encourage crimes to support habits and more violent dealers entering the maelstrom.

      The real solution is to make all drugs legal and Genetically and Chemically Modify them to be as safe and cheap as candy, so they kill pain without killing people. Again, you are right, this should be right don Reason's alley, but it has long given up quality, intelligent, gumshoe, investigative journalism.

      1. Correction: If supply is disrupted combined with increased demand...

  35. In Louisiana the big problems are domestic violence and teenagers with guns.

    1. Dig deeper. The real problem in Louisiana is democrats.

      1. where ARENT they the problem?

        They vote from the cemetaries!

  36. Can you say obtuse? The article is a ridiculously tortured attempt to avoid the obvious. All the stats and data in the world doesn’t make up for a lack of critical thinking.

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