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 Brownsville, Texas, metro area reported a 225% year-over-year spike in homicides, the worst of any large metro area in the state and third highest nationwide. There were 16 homicides reported in the area in 2020, up 220% from five in 2019. Despite the increase, the local homicide rate of 3.1 per 100,000 people remains below the national rate of 6.5 per 100,000.