Data: FBI; Chart: Axios Visuals

Growing waves of street violence between armed groups — combined with evidence of record gun sales — has some experts worried the U.S. could be facing an "incipient insurgency."

Why it matters: 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.

What's happening: 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, as Fred Kaplan noted in a smart piece in Slate.

  • Counterdemonstrations led by right-wing militant groups rose from 17 in June to 160 in July, with 18 featuring violence.

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.

What they're saying: 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.

Yes, but: Viral videos aside, the streets of major U.S. cities are generally peaceful, and murder rates — while up from last year — are still well down from earlier eras.

"The upcoming election — how it plays out, as well as how it ends up — could determine how deeply into crisis the country continues to plunge."
— Fred Kaplan

Go deeper: American society is teetering on the edge

Go deeper

Where Amy Coney Barrett stands on the biggest issues

Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Judge Amy Coney Barrett — expected to be named by President Trump today to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, and an edge on issues from abortion to the limits of presidential power.

The big picture: Republicans love the federal appeals court judge's age — she is only 48 — and her record as a steadfast social conservative.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 32,595,105 — Total deaths: 989,663 — Total recoveries: 22,508,651Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 7,034,432 — Total deaths: 203,789 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,483,712Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Mike Allen, author of AM
15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin:

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!