About Gun Violence: “I Hear Gunshots Every Day”

Murders in the United States — and gun violence in particular — are spiking. In 2020, it was estimated they have jumped nearly 30 percent, the most since the mid-1990s. Interestingly, while gun violence is up, other forms of crime are down.

Further, while shootings can and are happening everywhere, they appear to be concentrated in specific areas of American cities. Most victims are Black. Black Americans are eight times more likely to be murdered than whites.

Additionally, these shootings are becoming so common in the hardest-hit cities that one West Side Chicago resident said, “I hear gunshots every day. I listen to where they are coming from, then move to the front or the back of the house” for safety.

So, why has the U.S. murder rate jumped so much? According to German Lopez, writing in the New York Times, “Experts don’t agree on why this is happening.” Further, he points out, experts generally don’t agree on why crime rates go down either, as they did in the 1990s.

However, according to Lopez, when it comes to gun violence, there are three “broad explanations” that might help us understand what is happening right now in the U.S.

These are the following:

The Pandemic. This should come as no surprise. In another post, we discussed how more people are, for lack of a better term, misbehaving since the pandemic began. They are taking more risks and using poorer judgment, all of which are putting themselves and others at risk of harm and, in all too many cases, death.

“The social services and support [networks] that help keep crime down vanished overnight,” according to Lopez. “Schools could no longer keep unruly teens safe . . . and a broader sense of disorder and chaos fueled a moral holiday.”

The Times author adds that this appears to be an American phenomenon. Other countries did not experience a jump in violent crime as we did in the U.S. However, as it pertains to gun violence, in particular, most countries around the globe have tighter rules on gun ownership. This is not a political statement in any way; it’s just a fact.

Police Pullback. 2020 was a challenging year for police departments around the country. Racial justice protests grew, often blaming the police for unjust racial practices. Everything came to a head with the George Floyd murder.

After this happened, police pulled back, according to Lopez. They were less proactive in fighting crime, which may be one reason for the increase in gun violence.

Guns. We referenced this earlier. Americans have more firearms today than in years past, and they are used in more crimes.

Additionally, more Americans are carrying guns illegally. In short, according to Lopez, with more guns, many people are finding more reasons to use them, with violent and deadly results.

There may be one more reason for gun violence spiking in the U.S., and that is: it’s contagious.

A study, “Is the recent surge in violence in American cities due to contagion?” published in 2021 in the Journal of Crime Justice, found that in some cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, there is “some measure of contagious spread of gun violence.” In other words, gun violence can spur more gun violence. For instance, they report contagious gun violence made up:

  • 19 percent of the gun violence in Chicago
  • As much as 33 percent in Philadelphia
  • About 25 percent in LA

However, while it can be contagious, the researchers concluded that the bulk of gun violence in the country is “spontaneous” and could be caused by many reasons, including those mentioned earlier.

However, while it can be contagious, the researchers concluded that the bulk of gun violence in the country is “spontaneous” and could be caused by many reasons, including those mentioned earlier.

My Take

Here is what we do know.  Gun violence is up. More people are dying due to gun violence, guns are used in more crimes and there are many more guns out on the streets and in the homes of America today.

We advise our clients that whatever the causes, we must all deal with the hands we’re given. To protect ourselves, our people, and our data, new security measures are needed now . . . tomorrow is too late.

Johnathan Tal is Chief Executive Officer of TAL Global Corporation, an international investigative and security-consulting firm.  He served as a Military Field Intelligence Officer for the Israeli Armed Forces during the 1970s.  As an intelligence specialist, Tal supervised and initiated behind-enemy-lines intelligence gathering relying on both hardware systems and personnel.  Tal has also served as an anti-terrorism security specialist.  He is a licensed investigator, former President of World Association of Detectives (2000-2001) and holds a Bachelor of Science degree.  He can be reached through his company website at www.talglobal.com

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