The homicide rate in the US is at its highest level in nearly two and a half decades. In 2020, 21,570 murders were committed nationwide, nearly 30% more than the previous year – the largest annual increase on record.
The eruption of deadly violence came during a turbulent year in American history. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in school closings and left millions of Americans unemployed. The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer shattered confidence in American law enforcement and sparked protests across the country. Firearms sales skyrocketed, leading to the proliferation of tens of millions of new weapons. Here’s a look at the states where arms sales are increasing.
Some experts speculate that each of these factors likely played a role in the rising murder rate. Although it can take years to identify the exact causal factors, the effects are being felt in communities across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists homicides as a contributing factor in the historic 1.5 year decline in life expectancy in the US last year – following COVID-19 and accidental deaths such as drug overdoses.
In 2020, Colorado had a total of 294 homicides, or 5.1 per 100,000 people – the 22nd lowest homicide rate in any state. For comparison: the national homicide rate is 6.5 per 100,000.
Murder, along with rape, robbery and aggravated assault, is part of the broader violent crime category. Although Colorado has a below average homicide rate, the overall violent crime rate is above average. In 2020, a total of 423 violent crimes were reported per 100,000 residents in the state, compared to 399 per 100,000 nationwide.