ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — With 35 homicides already this year in Rochester, the city is on track to see a record-high number of murders in 2021. 

Across the nation, there has been an increase in violent crimes. The 72 largest cities have already seen a 17% increase in crime this year compared to last.

Rochester has already seen 35 homicides this year, according to the Rochester Police Department. In 2019, the city saw 32 homicides. In 2020, that number jumped to 52. 

“Last year was concerning, this year is particularly alarming,” said Chris Schreck, a Professor of Criminal Justice at Rochester Institute of Technology and Chair of the Department. 

Rochester is on pace to see 70 murders this year. This would mean the city would have a higher per capita rate of violence than Chicago, which historically has some of the highest crime rates in America.

“The other thing too that’s troubling about it is even in the high points of homicide in Rochester 30 years ago, we’re still looking at low and mid 60s and that only persisted for a few years,” Schreck said.

While experts say there could be a lot of things to blame for the increase in homicides, Schreck says he believes access to firearms plays a major role. 

Purchase of fire arms from 2000-2020: John Roman’s

“This (graphic above) tracks weapon related purchases from 2000, which is over here on the left, up until late last year,” Schreck said. “Starting around the time that you see the shutdowns and quarantines, you’re seeing a huge run-up in gun purchases.”

Schreck says in some states it’s easy for people to purchase a gun. 

“People can just simply go into a store and purchase a weapon and they don’t necessarily need to prove any training or to prove that they have the ability to store safely or that in certain states they are even eliminating background checks,” Schreck said.

The professor said people with guns don’t always secure them, which can lead to them being stolen and taking to other cities to be used in crimes.

“If you have an unsecured weapon around and you leave it on your carseat because it’s uncomfortable to carry or it’s just lying around the house for anybody to take it or a burglar to take it, what you’re probably going to see here is an increase in circulation in the illegal firearms market,” Schreck said.

Rochester, N.Y. Police Dept.Open Data Portal as of 7:45 p.m. June 29, 2021

According to data from the Rochester Police Department, nearly all of the murders this year have been committed with firearms: