Intelbrief / IntelBrief: Attacks on Police and Law Enforcement Are Not Getting Enough Attention
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On average in 2021, one on-duty police officer was murdered every five days in the United States, with a total of 73 police officers intentionally killed by perpetrators last year. This number represents a 59% increase from 2020. The total is the highest since 2001, a year that included police officers killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks in which 72 police officers were killed in a single day. Excluding 2001, 2021 saw the highest number of intentional police killings in the United States since 1995, when 74 police officers were murdered. During an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes aired April 24, 2022, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “Violence against law enforcement in this country is one of the greatest phenomena that, I think, does not attract enough attention”. He went on to add that the deliberate targeting of police officers was on the increase and that “wearing the badge shouldn’t make you a target”. Of the 73 officers killed, 25 were killed in “unprovoked attacks”, such as ambushes. In cases where a political motive is suspected, the attacks spanned the ideological spectrum from far left to far right and raise the question of whether they should be classified as domestic terrorism.
The rise in police killings is part of a rise in murders in the United States in recent years. In 2020, the total number of murders increased by 29%, with nearly 5,000 more people killed than the previous year. But it’s not just murders that have increased, but rather all gun deaths. That same year, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 45,222 Americans died from gunshot wounds, whether by homicide, suicide, accidental or undetermined. This is a 13.5% increase from 2019. Of these total deaths, the number of firearm deaths in 2020 increased by 33.4% from 2019, while suicides increased. increased by 1.1% over the same period. Guns account for the majority of murders in the United States, not just of police officers, but of all victims. And for the first time, firearms are the leading cause of death among children and adolescents (ages 1 to 19), surpassing road accidents.
While there were many possible causes for the rise in killings, including often vague mention of the social impacts of COVID-19, the central role of firearms – and ease of access – in the violence military and gun deaths in the United States is too often inexplicable. absent from the discussion. Only in the United States are guns assumed to have little to do with gun violence and death, despite the fact that the number of guns in America has reached unprecedented levels. previous. In 2021, Americans brought in 19.9 million firearms, the second-highest total on record, according to Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting. The highest total, 22.8 million, was the previous year, 2020. Both numbers are up alongside a substantial increase in depression, anxiety and mental health issues, as well as substance abuse and spikes in domestic violence, especially during the pandemic.
Fears of societal unrest from COVID-19 and worries about legislation that will restrict access to firearms have been mentioned as possible drivers of the record increase in gun sales in the United States. pandemic leading to societal anarchy, creates a feedback loop. The net result is inevitably more guns leading to more gun violence, followed by more calls for more guns to counter rising gun crimes. In addition, the increase in the number of firearms increases the risks of accidents and abuse, most often associated with incidents involving children. There is no chance of new federal gun control or restrictions in the foreseeable future given the political polarization, and in many states gun restrictions are being dismantled. States such as Georgia and Texas have passed “constitutional carry” laws that abolish the requirement to obtain a license and registration to carry a concealed firearm in public. The effect of these laws on the safety of police officers and all Americans will be seen for years to come and will likely drive this already disturbing trend to continue for the foreseeable future.