Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Gun Violence Is Fueling the Rise in Violent Crime, New CAP Analysis Finds
Press Release

RELEASE: Gun Violence Is Fueling the Rise in Violent Crime, New CAP Analysis Finds

Washington, D.C. — Rising violent crime rates over the past two years have almost entirely been fueled by an alarming escalation in gun violence, according to a new analysis released today by the Center for American Progress. The analysis comes the same day as National Gun Violence Awareness Day, the annual date for Americans to remember those they have lost to gun violence and recommit themselves to ending this crisis. This year, the day carries a particular weight following devastating mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

“We simply cannot continue living under the daily threat of gun violence,” said Eugenio Weigend Vargas, director of Gun Violence Prevention at CAP and author of the analysis. “Elected officials and the media must acknowledge that gun violence—not criminal justice reform—has been the primary driver of rising crime rates. If policymakers are serious about stopping crime, gun violence prevention laws must be at the top of their agendas.”

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the analysis provides telling data on the link between gun violence and rising crime rates. Among the most striking findings:

  • While nonfirearm homicides increased less than 10 percent from 2019 to 2020, gun homicides rose by 35 percent—the largest annual increase ever recorded.
  • From 2019 to 2020, the rate of gun homicides among children and teenagers ages 1 to 19 rose by 40 percent.
  • Mass shootings increased 46 percent from 2019 to 2020 and another 13 percent from 2020 to 2021.
  • Assault weapons have been the common denominator in the deadliest mass shootings of the past 10 years.
  • States with weaker gun laws present higher rates of gun-related crime and gun homicides.

In addition to enacting stronger gun laws, lawmakers should also take complementary measures to respond to rising gun violence and address its root causes. One effective tool gaining popularity is community-based violence intervention (CVI) programs. In a separate report released today, CAP addresses some of the most frequently asked questions around CVI programs and provides guidance to community leaders and policymakers seeking to engage with and support these programs.

While there are a variety of evidence-based CVI models, these programs generally include partnerships between government, community stakeholders, and individuals most affected by gun violence and seek to engage with those most connected to the violent incidents, de-escalate violence, and connect individuals to services to put them on a better path. By interrupting cycles of violence and connecting community resources to people who need them most, these partnerships have proven successful in communities across cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Oakland, and Chicago.

“By providing tangible resources such as jobs and counseling in communities experiencing more violent crime, CVI programs can de-escalate patterns of violence as well as improve public safety and economic stability,” said Rachael Eisenberg, senior director for Criminal Justice Reform at CAP. “Coupled with increased restrictions on gun purchases, lawmakers at all levels can help save lives and address the daily toll of gun violence in the most impacted communities.”

Click here to read:The Recent Rise in Violent Crime Is Driven by Gun Violence” by Eugenio Weigend Vargas

Click here to read:Frequently Asked Questions About Community-Based Violence Intervention Programs” by CAP’s Criminal Justice Reform and Gun Violence Prevention teams

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Tricia Woodcome at twoodcome@americanprogress.org.