Why some violent crimes are up in LA: Combo of COVID and nation’s long history with guns

“A lot of things like car thefts, and people stealing car parts, shootings and murders — they’re all definitely up. A lot of it is due to the pandemic and people being home,” says Ethan Ward, reporter at Crosstown LA. Photo by Elliott Cowand Jr/Shutterstock.com.

This year kicked off with an alarming rise in shootings in Los Angeles, according to the LAPD’s public stats. Homicides are up, robberies are down, rapes are down, car thefts are up. And people looking to buy guns broke records after the attack on the Capitol. 

However, Crosstown LA reporter Ethan Ward makes a key note that overall crime is down 9% throughout the first quarter of this year compared to the same time in 2020. 

But breaking it down, when it comes to bullets fired, that increased 51% compared to the same time last year, says Ward. He adds that victims actually being hit with bullets jumped 86% during the first quarter of this year compared to last year. 

What’s the drive? “Generally, the consensus is the pandemic, people are home, people are restless, people are in gangs. I spoke to a gang interventionist who said that a lot of it has to do with gang activity, so they’re trying to work on community outreach … and stepping up the patrols,” he says. 

Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz teaches the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis, and she says, “What we were seeing was a collision of COVID-19 and this country’s long-standing gun violence problem, with data suggesting that 2020 had more incidents in which four or more people were killed or injured due to guns than any of the past several years. Unfortunately, Black and Brown communities in turn have shouldered a disproportionate share of the burden of not only COVID-19, but also these incidents of interpersonal firearm-related harm.” 

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