Despite an overall drop in crime, Washington D.C. has nonetheless experienced a whopping 54 percent increase in its murder rate for 2015, the city reports.
At 119 homicides for 2015, the murder rate surpassed that of each of the last four years. 2012 saw only 88 murders, while 2013 hit 104, and 2014 saw 105 murders.
The rise comes desite the fact that the overall crime rate has dropped four percent in the nation’s capital.
According to the Washington Times, Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham blamed the higher murder rate on guns.
“A greater percent of those arrested for homicide have prior convictions for felony violent crimes,” Chief Newsham told the paper. “And a lot of times more than one gun was represented at the crime scene. The means either there were two shooters and one victim, or those involved were shooting at each other.”
The chief also said that often police are finding more shell casings littering the ground of crime scenes, so criminals may be using “modified magazines” to be able to shoot up to 40 rounds at a time. Newsham, however, offered no evidence of this, nor did he explain what these modifications might be.
D.C.’s rise in homicides is in contrast to the general drop in crime nationwide. Earlier this year, the FBI reported that, in general, the murder rate fell again in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available. With a drop of two percent in violent crimes, 2014 also saw the fewest murders since 2009. Other crimes such as robbery, burglary, theft, and arson also declined.
But while the trend in crime was downward in general—and has been steadily decreasing since the 1980s—not every area saw a decrease in its homicide rate. Cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, and New York have been hit with a jump in murder rates.
After months of rioting this summer, the city of Baltimore has suffered its highest murder rate in years. The number of homicides there has surged to its highest rate since the 1990s with 340 deaths by the end of December.
Meanwhile, New York City’s homicide rate is up 20 percent this year. And along with the Big Apple, rising gang violence has reversed the trend of falling murder rates in Chicago, causing homicides in the Windy City to rise to its highest rate in a decade. Even Kansas City has witnessed its highest murder rate since 2011, report say.
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