Published February 11, 2021
Democratic House impeachment managers are rightly focusing the nation’s attention on the horrific violence that occurred at the Capitol on Jan. 6. After the trial is over, lawmakers should also focus on the horrific spike in crime that occurred nationwide last year.
Crime statistics paint an alarming picture. Murders skyrocketed in many major U.S. cities in 2020, increasing by nearly 37 percent over 2019’s total in a collection of 57 large jurisdictions. The rise was much larger in some places, such as Seattle (74 percent) and Chicago (56 percent). New York, long the national symbol for how crime rates plummeted in the 1990s, saw a nearly 45 percent hike in murders and a 97 percent increase in shootings.
Meanwhile, it has become clear that many Americans do not feel safe. In the past year, there has been a massive increase in gun sales among people from all backgrounds. More than 23 million guns were sold in 2020, a 60 percent increase from 2019. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry’s trade association, estimates that 8.4 million people purchased their first gun in 2020. Industry experts say this includes an unexpected number of women and African Americans. These increases are so large that the nation is experiencing a shortage of ammunition that shows no signs of abating.
Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.