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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Crimes involving guns are rising sharply in Memphis in 2021, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.

In the first three months of this year, Memphis Police and the University of Memphis Public Safety Institute reported 1,576 violent incidents involving guns, a 30% increase over the same period in 2020. Using numbers from the state that tabulate offenses rather than incidents, that number was 3,546 gun-related offenses, a 51% increase from a year earlier.

(Graphics from Memphis Shelby Crime Commission)

During the first quarter of 2021, there were 4,405 reports of shots fired (compared to 3,891 in 2020) and 530 reports of persons hit by gunfire (compared to 429 in 2020).

This year, 375 guns have been reported stolen from vehicles, compared to 164 the same period a year earlier. The commission said the number is likely to reach 1,500 guns stolen, eclipsing a record set last year.

 “We’ve just got to have a sense of urgency to address it, and drive those numbers down,” said Bill Gibbons, president of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission, 0031.

Memphis’ numbers also seem to reflect consequences of the pandemic. Gibbons hopes the city’s numbers will actually improve as life gets a bit more “normal.”

“I hope so,” he said. And I might add, it’s not just Memphis that is seeing this uptick, it’s across the country. There is some connection to the pandemic.”

Gov. Bill Lee’s Permitless Carry Act goes into effect on July 1. While it’s been opposed by local law enforcement and political leaders, it comes with harsher penalties for stolen firearms, which Lee says it will deter potential criminals.

The Crime Commission will partner with other agencies and community groups for the third Community Walk Against Gun Violence, April 24 at 10 a.m. The 1.9 mile walk route will begin and end at the MLK Prep Academy, 1530 Dellwood Avenue in Frayser.