June is National Gun Violence Awareness Month, and while crime has gone down overall during the pandemic, homicides and other gun crimes have surged nationally, according to a recent report.
The city of Fayetteville’s 2021 murder rate will likely exceed the local record of 31 violent deaths set in 2016. There have been 21 homicides in Fayetteville so far this year, according to police spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Glass. That’s a 38% increase over the first half of last year. There were 13 homicides during the first six months of 2020 and 11 during the corresponding period in 2019. “There are too many victims of gun violence that could have been prevented,” Gov. Roy Cooper has said.
CBS News recently researched the 2019 murder rates of 65 U.S. cities with more than 100,000 residents. Fayetteville was ranked 55th. Charlotte was tied with Nashville, Tennessee, for 59th place. Winston-Salem was rated 56th, Durham 52nd, Greensboro 44th and High Point 34th. The lower the number, the higher the murder rate. CBS News’ calculations used the FBI's 2019 Crime in the United States data, as well as information culled directly from city police officials and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins says the record sale of guns in 2020 was a major factor for the increase in homicides so far this year. “Violent crime is increasing around the nation and we’re part of it,” she said.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation noted that 2020 was record-breaking in nearly every measurable metric. More than 8.4 million people purchased their first guns last year. The increase in homicide rates across the country is both historic and far-reaching, as were the social movements that touched every part of society in 2020.
"Those that are predisposed to commit violent crime are not likely to remain in their homes away from other people because there is a stay-at-home order," said Kansas City Police Sergeant Jacob Becchina. “I think the pandemic — COVID — has had a significant emotional impact on people across the country,” Detroit police chief James Craig said.
Chief Hawkins agrees with Craig. She told Up & Coming Weekly that individuals are not processing how they manage disputes. What used to be a fist fight has become a gun fight.
Hawkins said that it’s difficult for law enforcement agencies to prevent murders, most of which are inflicted as the result of domestic disputes, gang activity, violent conflicts and predatory violence.
“We absolutely are proactively on the forefront to eliminate crime,” Hawkins said. “The entire department works very hard to incorporate technology into solving crime.”
She said that most of the 100 downtown video cameras are operating. They are monitored during special events such as the Dogwood Festival and baseball games at Segra Stadium.
The National Council for Home Safety and Security has ranked North Carolina’s 50 safest cities. Fayetteville is not among them. Hope Mills is ranked 42nd. Pinehurst is North Carolina’s safest municipality. True to its image as an upper-crust resort community, Pinehurst recorded a low 0.93 per 1,000 violent crime rate along with the lowest property crime rate in the state.