Gun crimes increase during COVID-19

Gun crimes increase during COVID-19

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In Memphis, nearly 65 percent of the crimes reported are gun crimes. It’s a record-breaking year for homicides in the Bluff City, but a new report by the University of Memphis shows more alarming figures on other gun crimes.

Gun crime incidents reported by Memphis Police show yearly drops in gun crimes in 2018 and 2019. Director of the University of Memphis Public Safety Institute Bill Gibbons said it looked like that trend continued at the beginning of 2020.

“Then in March the pandemic hit and since then, we’ve seen some traumatic increases in reported gun incidents,” Gibbons said.

In a report published by the U of M Public Safety Institute, using numbers from the Memphis Police Department, gun crime incidents are up 11 percent in the first half of 2020 compared to the same time frame last year.

In Memphis, police have responded to half a dozen shootings, leaving nearly just as many people dead, over the last 24 hours. The report also used numbers from TBI.

MPD only records incidents. TBI records offenses, and Gibbons said there could be several offenses in one incident. According to TBI, Memphis has seen nearly 6,000 gun crime offenses from January to June.

“Both the TBI and MPD figures show a very alarming increase. So, they’re very consistent with the trend they’re showing,” Gibbons said.

In Gibbons' expert opinion, he believes the increase is due to the pandemic. A disruption in life, loss of jobs, stress, and anxiety could be contributing factors. He said next week the institute will release numbers from July to September.

“What it shows is aggravated assaults have skyrocketed from last year, up almost 25 percent from last year,” Gibbon said.

WMC Action News 5 reached out to Memphis Police for a comment on this story, but have not heard back.

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.