Dramatic increases in shootings have wracked urban America since summer 2020. In the 50 largest U.S. cities, gun violence rose by 42% last year. In New York City, shootings were up over 97%, and in urban centers like Providence and Minneapolis, gunfire victims fully doubled. This brutal trend has continued into 2021. In the first quarter, shootings in Chicago were up nearly 40% year-to-date, and in Portland, Oregon, shooting victims nearly tripled in the first four months of this year compared to 2020.
These increases represent thousands more deaths just last year, as nationwide gun deaths hit the highest number in over two decades. These shootings, often associated with gang violence, have increasingly victimized young children, and they disproportionately hurt black communities in many areas. In New York, blacks and Hispanics have constituted at least 95% of the city’s shooting victims every year for more than a decade. In Minneapolis, over 80% of shooting victims last year were black.
What might be fueling these brutal increases and what can be done to turn them around? Rapidly passed reductions to police budgets, decriminalization of offenses, and the rise of “progressive prosecuters” who choose not to pursue charges for a host of crimes have all reduced shooting deterrents as well as the incapacitation of offenders. But public rhetoric continues to focus on even further-reaching police reforms, and reductions to policing and prosecution. And political pressures to counter police violence have overshadowed the much larger and growing number of criminal shooting victims.
Please join us for a discussion with leading practitioners and scholars who have been sounding the alarm on the rise in gun violence, the innocents it harms, its connection to misguided policies, and the disproportionate victimization of black Americans.