Homicides are rising at a record pace in the United States. According to a recent FBI report, there were a total of 21,570 murders committed in 2020, the most of any year in the last two and a half decades and up nearly 30% from 2019 — the largest annual increase on record.
The spike in homicides came during a tumultuous year. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools and left millions of Americans out of work. Footage of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer rattled confidence in American law enforcement and sparked nationwide protests. Firearms sales soared, and tens of millions of new guns proliferated across communities nationwide. Here is a look at the states where gun sales are surging.
Some experts speculate that each of these factors likely played a role in rising homicide rates nationwide. While it may be years before the precise causal factors are identified, many U.S. cities are bearing the brunt of the rash of deadly violence. In metropolitan areas across the country, the increase in homicides last year eclipsed the national surge — in some cases, many times over.
The Davenport-Moline-Rock Island metro area, which covers parts of Iowa and Illinois, reported a 225% surge in homicides last year, the second worst increase of the all large U.S. metro areas. As a result, the local homicide rate of 6.9 incidents per 100,000 people is now slightly higher than the 6.5 per 100,000 national rate, while in 2019, the metro area’s homicide rate of 2.1 per 100,000 was far below the 5.1 per 100,000 national rate that year.
While police in the city of Davenport have stepped up efforts to curb deadly violence by creating a Gun Crime Unit and adopting a database to better trace weapons used in crimes, they are also calling for a community based effort involving collaboration between the courts, community leaders, and police to prevent crime.
All data in this story is at the metro area level from the FBI. Only metro areas with populations of at least 250,000 residents and at least one homicide in 2019 were considered.
|Rank||State||1-yr. change in reported murders (%)||Total murders in 2020||Murders per 100,000 people||Violent crimes per 100,000 people|
|1||Cedar Rapids, IA||500.0||12||4.4||251.9|
|2||Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL||225.0||26||6.9||475.9|
|5||Sioux Falls, SD||200.0||15||5.5||477.7|
|13||Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA||130.8||30||5.2||350.0|
|16||Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI||108.3||50||4.6||350.1|
|17||Shreveport-Bossier City, LA||107.3||85||21.6||683.0|
|18||Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA||100.0||12||4.4||357.1|
|21||College Station-Bryan, TX||100.0||10||3.7||298.0|
|29||New Haven-Milford, CT||75.0||49||6.1||256.3|
|30||Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL||73.9||40||5.4||286.8|
|36||Salt Lake City, UT||62.2||60||4.8||384.0|
|37||Green Bay, WI||60.0||8||2.5||225.0|
|47||Colorado Springs, CO||42.4||47||6.2||486.6|
|49||San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA||40.0||7||2.5||289.6|