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Self-Defense: Skyrocketing Murder Rate Highest in 20 Years

crime scene for U.S. murder rates
Yes, it really is more dangerous out there.

If it seems that today's environment is more dangerous, it's not your imagination. The FBI is reporting that the murder rate in almost every city is the highest it's been in more than two decades.


The spike of up to more than 20,000 recorded homicides is the largest one year increase in U.S. history.


“We’ve never seen an increase like that. Previously the biggest one-year increase in murder was a 12.5% increase in the 1960s," statistician and crime analyst Jeff Asher told the Washington Examiner. "We’re really talking about unprecedented increases in murder."


Asher concluded, using the FBI data, that the murder rate for 2020 sat at roughly 6.22 per 100,000 people. Not since 1998 has the country seen a murder rate that high. In 2019, the murder rate was an even 5 per 100,000 people, a slight dip from 5.1 in 2018.


U.S. murder rate per 100,000 from FBI
Historic spike in U.S. murder rate.

Major cities are seeing increased violence in 2020 over 2019:


New York -- +41%

Chicago -- +50%

Los Angeles -- +20%


St. Louis, Missouri, has one of the highest murder rates ever recorded in a U.S. city with 87 murders per 100,000 residents -- the highest its been in that city for 50 years.


Even smaller cities like Chula Vista, Calif., and Sacramento are seeing substantial increases:


Chula Vista -- +150%

Sacramento -- +26%


"One thing is that this past year was exceptional and that it’s hard to make a claim about general trends in a lot of jurisdictions. In New York City, this trend began before lockdowns," said Charles Lehman, a fellow at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute who specializes in research on crime and policing. "On the other hand, it’s impossible to dissociate these trends that are associated with protests against the police and city governments defunding their law enforcement. It’s worth noting that the last time we saw these jumps in murder was after the Ferguson protests."


"These spikes in murder are unsurprisingly associated with hostility towards the police and a retreat of police from public life," Lehman said. "When that happens, unsurprisingly, crime goes up."


The article notes the murder rates now still are significantly lower than they were in the 1980s which saw 10.22 murders per 100,000 people vs. the 6.22 per 100,000 now.


Is it because of the COVID-19 lockdowns? Is it because of the defund the police trends in cities? Is it because of the move to eliminate cash bail for accused criminals? Regardless of the reasons why the rates are skyrocketing experts see this trend continuing.


“I don’t have data to draw enough conclusions because it’s early," Asher said. "[But] I would not be surprised to see an increase in murder through the rest of the year.”


So what what can we do about high crime as individuals?


  1. Face the problem. First and foremost, we have to admit we have a problem. Regardless of where we live or what we do, we can become a target by a criminal. We have to recognize our "normalcy bias" and stop denying that bad things can't happen to good people.

  2. Take responsibility. We are our own first responders. The police are not responsible for your safety. Call for help, but move forward with the mindset that you are on your own and help is not coming. It could be minutes, it could be hours before police respond -- but we need to solve our problem right now!

  3. Get fit. Physical skills are invaluable for your survival. Speed, power, and flexibility give you the ability to respond effectively to an attack. Your fitness, by itself, can give your opponent pause to consider if he thinks he can beat you without getting hurt himself.

  4. Get training. There are no easy or steadfast rules when it comes to interpersonal violence and combat. You have to be familiar with fighting. This means you should have familiarity with hand-to-hand styles like Muay Thai kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and boxing. You should start getting training with armed defense like combat handgun and knife defense. The order in which you study them is not important, but include both empty handed and armed disciplines. Even a little bit of training will go a long way in your defense.

  5. Control what you can. If we focus on the areas which we can control, then we can make real strides in our self-defense and personal protection efforts.

  6. Finally, practice your skills. Work with your new-found knowledge to groove your skills so you can rely on them when you are under extreme stress and duress. Practice like your life depends on it.


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