Violent crime rises in US
VIOLENT crime in the United States rose by 3.9 percent last year, the FBI announced just hours before the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump where crime was one of the key topics.
The FBI said on September 26 that in 2015 there were 1,197,704 violent crimes, an increase of 3.9pc compared with the previous year.
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter increased 10.8pc, and firearms were involved in two-thirds of those cases, the agency said.
The increase in the murder rate was due mainly to rises in seven major cities: Chicago, Baltimore, Houston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Kansas City and Washington.
On the very day the FBI report was released, a gunman in Houston wounded nine people near an apartment complex before being shot and killed by police.
On September 23, a young male shooter killed five people in a department store in Washington state.
Despite the uptick, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said the statistics showed that the violent crime rate had fallen 15pc since Barack Obama took office.
“The president believes there’s more that we can and should do,” he said. “And there’s no area where the president has been more outspoken than taking action on commonsense measures that would make it harder for criminals and others who shouldn’t have them to buy a gun.”
Crime is one of the pet issues of Mr Trump, who depicts himself as a tough law-and-order candidate.
Mr Trump, who is backed by the powerful US gun lobby, hammers away at his idea that America is a country threatened by uncontrolled illegal immigration, which he blames for violent crime and drug trafficking.
Mr Trump dismisses Mr Obama’s administration as soft on crime.
Last week Mr Trump expressed support for profiling – the discriminatory police practice of targeting people for suspicion of crime on the basis of their race, ethnicity or religion. Most victims are either African American or Latino.
Although violent crime increased last year, overall the tendency over the past 20 years has been a decline. Crime levels in America now are far below the peak years in the 1990s.
The FBI said it collects data on the violent crimes of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
Burglaries fell 7.8pc and larcenythefts declined 1.8pc.
The release of the report comes as murder rates have risen in several US cities in 2015 and 2016, mainly Chicago, where authorities have reported more than 500 homicides since January. That is more than all of last year.
Experts say different factors come into play depending on the city, mainly drug trafficking, gang wars and the availability of guns.
This file photo taken on June 12 shows police at the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Violent crime in the United States rose last year, the FBI said on September 26.