Murder rates jump in big US cities
Several major American cities have seen a dramatic surge in homicides in 2015, after years of decline in violent crime, according to a report.
Milwaukee, a city of 600,000 in Wisconsin, which had one of its lowest homicide rates last year, has seen 80 murders so far this year, more than double the 39 it had recorded at the same point last year, USA Today reports.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn blamed Wisconsin’s “absurdly weak” gun laws and growing distrust of police for the mounting homicide rates in the city.
In parts of the city, residents are so used to the sound of gunfire that they don’t report about 80 percent of gunfire detected by ShotSpotter, Flynn said.
“We’ve got folks out there living in neighborhoods, where . . . it’s just part of the background noise,” he told USA TODAY. “That’s what we’re up against.”
Baltimore, a predominately black city in Maryland, New Orleans in Louisiana and St. Louis in Missouri have also seen murder rates jump by a third or more in 2015.
Chicago, America’s third largest city, experienced a 19 percent-surge in homicides and an increase of 21 percent in shooting incidents during the first half of the year.
In all the cities, the increase in violent crime is disproportionately impacting poor and predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhoods, the report said.
Criminologists say the surge in murders comes after years of declines in violent crime in major cities throughout the United States.
High homicide numbers plagued big US cities in the late 1980s and early 1990s as crack-cocaine became the illicit drug of the day in many urban areas.
Numerous studies have found that gun ownership is directly associated with gun-related homicides, and homicide by gun is the most common type of homicide in the United States.
A new study by researchers at Harvard University has linked higher ownership of guns to more violent crime and overall homicides in the country.
“We found no support for the hypothesis that owning more guns leads to a drop or a reduction in violent crime, instead, we found the opposite,” Michael Monuteaux, an epidemiologist and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, told Live Science.