The Trace Reports Study On Violence Surge Without Gun Control

Anyone who claims there isn’t a surge in violence is deluding themselves. I say that regardless of their political affiliation. Anyone with eyes can look at the headlines coming out of cities large and small and see that violent crime has surged in ways no one could have foreseen just six months ago.

As per usual, crime will be a political issue in upcoming state and local elections as communities struggle to deal with what’s going on.

However, solutions can’t really come until we have a grasp on the causes. Not really. Sure, politicians can make a few moves and maybe reduce the problem a bit, but that may or may not have any long-term benefit.

Over at The Trace, I kind of knew what they were going to say the problem was. In truth, they surprised me by reporting this one.

A theory for this year’s rise in violent crime: The pandemic disrupted some of the most promising community-led models. As numerous data analyses have shown, homicide and shootings are up sharply in 2020, even as most other types of crime are down. Some city officials have linked the spike to changes in the criminal justice system or policing, including prisoner releases to avoid virus outbreaks in detention facilities or law enforcement slowdowns amid protests. An article in The New York Times considers a different explanation, focusing on proven and promising community models for reducing violence that have faced setbacks this year — either because of budget cuts or social distancing requirements that have derailed work that’s most effective when it involves “a pat on the shoulder, a touch on the hand.”

  • Summer or transitional jobs programs were canceled or curtailed
  • Hospital-based intervention programs were barred from bedside because of restrictions on patient visitors
  • Mentorship for students has also gone virtual with the closure of classrooms

Anti-violence leaders lauded the analysis’ emphasis on interventions that don’t rely on arrest and incarceration.

For what it’s worth, I’m lauding this for not screaming about guns.

See, that would be the easy place to point fingers. After all, there’s been a huge surge in firearms sales, which we all know by now. Guns are still flying off the shelves and with the typical anti-gun position of more guns equals more crime, I truly expected them to level the blame there.

With this, though, they didn’t. Instead, it looks at real-world potential causes, some of which make sense on some level. I’m not sure that would account for all of the violence, but potentially at least some of it.

Plus, let’s not forget that with the lockdown, people were basically shut-in for months on end and were likely getting testy as it was. Once they could get out, all that build-up frustration and anger was just looking for a place to go, and that means minor altercations escalate because it’s an opportunity to vent it.

Unfortunately, in some places in this country, venting that much anger means deadly violence.

Couple that with people figuring they can get away with it due to mask mandates, and it really shouldn’t be surprising that this is where we’re at.

Oct 24, 2021 2:30 PM ET