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.
Homicides were up by 60% in the Asheville, North Carolina, metro area -- from 15 murders reported in 2019 to 24 in 2020. Despite the spike, the metro area's murder rate of 5.1 incidents per 100,000 people is lower than the 6.5 per 100,000 national murder rate.
The increase in homicides in the city is coinciding with a longer term trend of rising gun violence. There were 652 dispatch calls for shots fired in the city in 2020, up from 522 in 2019 and 401 in 2010.
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|