Since the early 1990s, the number of murders had been steadily dropping. Then in 2015, it jumped up, and it continued escalating in 2016 before falling again. What happened? Were those figures an aberration, or are they a worrisome sign of an upward trend?
The latest research paper of Northeastern criminologist James Alan Fox draws a number of conclusions about homicide trends, but one of the more salient ones is that between 2015-2017, there was an uptick in homicides among romantic partners that affected both male and female victims.
Guns are a big part of this escalation, says Fox, who is the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern University. He and his co-author, written with Emma Fridel, a PhD student in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, observe that even if purchased for self-defense purposes, all too often a gun in the home is used against a loved one. Sometimes this happens in the heat of an argument, other times deliberately to end a relationship “in a way that is speedier and less expensive than divorce,” as the authors put it.