The FBI has fallen into disrepute, especially with conservatives. But its annual report on crime in America is a treasure trove of information, compiled from thousands of local sources. The data are not perfect: not all agencies report, and information is sometimes incomplete. But the data are solid enough to permit many conclusions. The FBI’s report on crime in 2020 was released yesterday.
The Bureau’s press release recites the basic data: Violent crime rose by 5.2% over 2019, and, shockingly, the homicide rate increased by 29.4%. That is the largest increase in homicides on record. Property crimes declined for the 18th consecutive year, but interestingly, auto theft rose by 11.8%. Apparently all those carjackings add up.
Some try to argue that homicides spiked because of covid, but Hans Bader decisively debunks that theory. In most parts of the world, violent crime went down, not up, during the epidemic. It seems obvious that the causes of the unprecedented rise in the murder rate were the George Floyd riots, the Black Lives Matter movement, ceaseless attacks on law enforcement by politicians and others, a consequent pullback in policing, and a general societal tendency toward lawlessness that is condoned, in many instances, by liberals.
If you drill into the FBI’s data, a number of interesting patterns emerge. Activists argue that black men are shot by law enforcement at a higher rate than their percentage of the population, which must be conclusive proof of systemic racism. This argument is ridiculous to anyone with a basic knowledge of reality, as the FBI numbers confirm. Blacks might only be 12% of the population, but they commit a minimum of 39% of the murders; 57% of the murders where the race of the killer is known. On that basis, they are actually under-represented as “victims” of police shootings.
It is noteworthy that the “other” category includes Asians, who comprise around 6% of our population, about half the number of blacks. Yet they (together with whoever else is in the “other” category) commit only 2% of homicides, a small fraction, per capita, of black murders.
We have heard heated rhetoric over the last year or two about how blacks are being “hunted” and can barely venture outside their homes. This sort of talk hasn’t fooled anyone who lives in the real world, and the FBI data show that there are twice as many whites killed by blacks as there are blacks killed by whites:
Year after year, the FBI data fail to align with the manias of the gun control crowd. For some reason, the gun grabbers are obsessed with Modern Sporting Rifles (AR-15s) even though such rifles have never had much to do with crime. We see that again this year.
For reasons that are easy to understand, firearms are the most popular murder weapons. But they are almost exclusively handguns, which liberals for some reason haven’t tried to ban. (Give them time.) Their target is rifles; or, rather, a subset of a subset of rifles–semiautomatic rifles that have various features characteristic of AR-15s.
But, as the data show, you are almost four times as likely to be murdered with a knife as by a rifle–any rifle. You are also much more likely to be beaten to death by someone’s bare hands than to be killed with a rifle, and about as likely to be murdered with a club or hammer.
So it is hard to imagine the Democrats’ anti-“assault rifle” campaign having any impact on the homicide rate.
One last data point: the number of felons killed by police officers dropped sharply in 2020:
Justifiable homicides–“The killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty”–are down 32% since 2017. Given the sharp rise in homicides since 2017, that decline is obviously not due to fewer police encounters with dangerous felons. Rather, it is due to reticence on the part of police officers, who don’t want their lives, and their families’ lives, to be destroyed by Black Lives Matter.
We will never know exactly how many innocent people lost their lives in 2020 because of Black Lives Matter, the “defund the police” movement, and liberalism in general. But the FBI data suggest that this number is in the thousands.