To understand why violence is up nationwide requires an unbiased review of the actual facts.

Today’s violent crime rates are not what we saw in the 1990s, but the increases today are indeed concerning. Basically, it is hard to tell what drives crime trends, but the experts broadly agree on three main reasons. First, it is the pandemic. As people know, the pandemic has placed everyone under incredible pressure, but, in particular, it has placed disproportionate pressure on poor communities of color, precisely where community gun violence concentrates.

The second major cause is, in fact, guns. We saw record sales of guns in 2020, continuing to 2022. And, unfortunately, some recent ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] data shows that the — quote, unquote — “time to crime,” meaning the time an illegally purchased gun needs to funnel through the gray and black markets into the hands of the criminal, has shortened considerably.

And, in fact, what we’re seeing on the streets of our cities is that more illegal guns are being recovered, despite the fact that there have been fewer arrests.

The final thing that’s driving these crime trends is the social unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. And what that incident and other incidents like it did is, it drove a wedge between cops and the communities they serve.

And what we’re seeing is, we’re seeing police alienated from communities and communities alienated from police. So, we’re seeing less proactive investigation from police. And we’re seeing less cooperation in some of the most impacted communities.

And this nonsense about defunding the police is just that, it’s nonsense. Police funding as a share of overall state, local and even federal budgets is remarkably consistent. And it’s not necessarily more police that we need or less police. It’s the right kind of policing.

Serious gun violence is remarkably concentrated. It’s concentrated in every city among a surprisingly small number of people and a small number of places often known as micro-locations or hot spots. And so, yes, we need police in those places. But, no, we don’t need to return to some of the practices that — of mass arrest, mass incarceration that left us with really some of the highest levels of imprisonment in the world.

The bottom line is America is going through an unusually high amount of stress and tension caused by an overload of social and political division and pandemic anguish. It’s easy, and quite frankly, lazy to place blame on anything other than the facts.


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