Gun violence in US cities now mirrors 1980s levels

Written by Staff Writer at CNN, James Oberg Gun violence in US cities has fueled historic homicide levels, according to the latest public homicide data from the FBI. The statistics revealed gun violence contributing…

Gun violence in US cities now mirrors 1980s levels

Written by Staff Writer at CNN, James Oberg

Gun violence in US cities has fueled historic homicide levels, according to the latest public homicide data from the FBI.

The statistics revealed gun violence contributing to the number of homicides in major US cities for the first time in 2018. The gun homicide rate was seven times greater in Washington, DC, the murder rate in New York City was six times higher and the murder rate in Los Angeles was five times higher than the national average.

The data, which goes through April 31, reveals that 345 US cities had recorded more than 300 homicides this year as of May 28. Last year, the number of US cities with more than 300 homicides was 38.

The recent record-breaking homicide rates in major US cities is not a random coincidence. In April, Chris Whitmire, a professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, and his colleagues published a research paper that linked a recent uptick in homicides in the US to the rapid increase in the number of guns in circulation in the country and a general reluctance to make gun control a priority.

The country is home to 270 million firearms, Whitmire said. The nation had about four guns for every person in the US in 2016, more than a threefold increase in just a decade. And as a result, the potential for homicide and unintentional killings has grown as well.

This research coincides with recent research by Harvard researchers that also linked gun violence in the US to an increase in firearms. Using 18 major cities, Harvard’s Amy Jaffe found that gun violence in America over the last year has followed a dramatic spike in the number of American firearms.

According to the New York Times, a total of 3,750 people were killed by gunfire in the US in 2016, a record number. And while some experts have cautioned against making too much of a connection between gun violence and an increase in domestic violence or mass shootings, there is an undeniable link between the two.

In 2016, for example, researchers at the University of Chicago found that guns in the home were a factor in roughly one-third of domestic violence deaths, though it wasn’t enough to explain the other two-thirds. They also found that nearly 30% of mass shootings could be linked to people in the home who used guns.

“Now that we know people are able to injure, even kill, others by using guns, we may need to do more than fight them in courtrooms and in congressional hearing rooms to protect our citizens,” New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio told the New York Times.

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