US Murder Rates in 2015 Sharply Increase... Why?

As usual, I'll be leaving my source in the comments so as to avoid the mods obsession with deleting stories I provide sources for. I also apologize in advance for the lack of media--this one is gonna be a reader, folks.

2015 has been a bloody year for the United States, with as many as 30 major cities reporting a sharp increase in homicides. 2015 isn't even over yet, and already homicide figures have surpassed last years.

In Milwaukee, there has been a 76% increase in murder. St Louis, 60%. Baltimore had a 56% increase, and Washington a 44% increase. I trust I don't need to remind you who mostly populates these cities.

What's going on? Some police officials have opined that intense national scrutiny towards police officers' use of force has emboldened criminals and weakened police officers, while others claim an increase in gun ownership and gang-related violence is to blame. More often, however, top police authorities are claiming that a "willingness to use guns to settle disputes" is becoming more and more prevalent among the "disenfranchised" people in poor neighborhoods.

“Maintaining one’s status and credibility and honor, if you will, within that peer community is literally a matter of life and death,” Milwaukee’s police chief, Edward A. Flynn, said. “And that’s coupled with a very harsh reality, which is the mental calculation of those who live in that strata that it is more dangerous to get caught without their gun than to get caught with their gun.”

More thoughts from the police:

The police superintendent in Chicago, Garry McCarthy, said he thought an abundance of guns was a major factor in his city’s homicide spike. Even as officials in both parties are calling for reducing the prison population, he insisted that gun offenders should face stiffer penalties. “Across the country, we’ve all found it’s not the individual who never committed a crime before suddenly killing somebody,” Mr. McCarthy said on Monday. “It’s the repeat offenders. It’s the same people over and over again.”

Among some experts and rank-and-file officers, the notion that less aggressive policing has emboldened criminals — known as the “Ferguson effect” in some circles — is a popular theory for the uptick in violence.“The equilibrium has changed between police and offenders,” said Alfred Blumstein, a professor and a criminologist at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University.

Others doubt the theory or say data has not emerged to prove it. Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said homicides in St. Louis, for instance, had already begun an arc upward in 2014 before a white police officer killed an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, in nearby Ferguson. That data, he said, suggests that other factors may be in play.

Less debated is the sense among police officials that more young people are settling their disputes, including one started on Facebook, with guns.

Capt. Mike Sack, a homicide commander in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, cited killings there that had grown out of arguments over girlfriends, food and even characters on a TV show. “Most remarkable is that individuals get so upset over things that I or others might consider petty but resort to such a level of violence,” he said.

So what do you think?

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