Despite its high murder rate compared to other rich countries, organized political violence has been rare in the U.S. in recent decades. But growing clashes in the streets, combined with an election that may remain uncertain for weeks, forecasts a turbulent fall — and beyond.
A report published last week by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project found that 20 violent groups on both the left and the right have taken part in more than 100 protests related to the George Floyd killing.
At the same time, FBI background checks for gun sales hit an all-time high of 3.9 million in June, eclipsing a record set way back in … March, the month pandemic lockdowns kicked in. The ubiquity of guns — there were nearly 400 million firearms in the U.S. as of 2018 — acts as an accelerant to violence of all kinds, including the politically motivated.
Insurgency expert David Kilcullen wrote in a June report that the U.S. is in a state of « incipient insurgency, » where « inchoate action by a range of groups » leads to increasingly frequent violence — and violence that is increasingly organized.