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Violent crime rising in Memphis as summer approaches

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As people venture back out, violent crime is rising in Memphis, in particular, gun violence.

Memphis set a record for homicides last year and it could be on pace to do the same again this year.

But there is some positive news. Some crimes are down, including burglaries.

WMC analyzed crime numbers from the Memphis Data Hub. The numbers show violent crime is on the rise compared to last year.

For instance, by this time last year, Memphis police had recorded 98 homicides. So far this year, they’ve recorded at least 110 homicides, according to the data hub.

The number of weapons law violations, which usually involve guns, is also up.

At this time last year, the Memphis Police Department had recorded 871 weapons violations. So far this year, they’ve recorded over 1,100 weapons offenses, a 35 percent increase.

Compared to 2019, weapons offenses are up 142 percent.

“This is not okay and it doesn’t have to be like this,” said Kathryn McRitchie with the Memphis chapter of Moms Demand Action.

The problem of gun violence in Memphis is nothing new to McRitchie.

“Growing up, my dad was the director of the trauma center, and so we just talked about the reality of gun violence in our city,” said McRitchie.

She is fighting for common-sense gun reform she says will make the community safer.

“Guns have become easier to access through loosening state and federal laws, and so as we’ve allowed guns to be more accessible, we’ve seen record rates of crimes with guns increase,” said McRitchie.

She’s concerned those numbers will rise even more this summer when permitless carry takes effect in Tennessee.

While groups like hers weren’t able to stop laws like permitless carry, she says they have had some success with pushing laws to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, for instance.

And she says partnerships between various community groups also make a difference.

“The partnerships across social services, across government, across law enforcement, and across the hospitals [show] that there is momentum building. I think it’s important to highlight that work,” said McRitchie.

It’s not all bad news. While gun violence remains a big concern in Memphis, other crimes are down.

Numbers from the Memphis Data Hub show property crime is down four percent this year. Burglaries are down 25 percent.

Rays of hope in a city struggling with violent crime.

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