The National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice released a report that looked at the crime rates for ten different crimes during the Covid pandemic in 2020, with an emphasis on violent crimes. Most notable was a 30% increase in the homicide rate from 2019. And while homicide rates during the early months of the lockdowns were already on the rise, after the George Floyd killing, the rates rose substantially:
As noted above, a precipitous rise in homicides coincided with the emergence of mass
protests after George Floyd was killed in late May by a police officer in Minneapolis. In
June through August 2020, the homicide rate was 37% higher than the previous year and
higher than during any other period in 2020. That said, the connection between police
violence, protests and social unrest, and heightened community violence remains
As the authors have noted previously, it may be instructive to compare recent increases in
violence to those that followed the August 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in
Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent protests around the country.10 In the aftermath,
homicides in large cities rose in 2015 and 2016 by nearly 22% – the largest two-year
increase in 25 years.
As violent crimes rise and people become more keenly aware of a possible threat to their own physical safety, they choose to do the most natural thing ever. They choose to exercise their option to defend themselves. This can be seen by the dramatic increase in background checks year over year in the months of June and July of 2020 following the George Floyd protests which quickly turned into violent riots and looting. I’ve take the last five years worth of data on the number of background checks from the F.B.I. and charted it below:
Granted the entire year of 2020 saw increases in background checks from the same months in previous years, but the largest increases seem to be in March when the lockdowns started and then in the summer as riots and looting were breaking out across the country. You can also see the continued upward trend in checks at the end of 2020. My *guess* would be to attribute that to the continued uncivil discourse permeating the culture as we know it and the promise of the Biden administration to crack down on firearms purchases and usher in new gun laws. Needless to say, when people feel threatened in some way or another, they will respond and take action to protect themselves. I don’t see the trend reversing any time soon.