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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

Nov 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Poll: Some 10% of Trump supporters say Biden won

Trump supporters at a rally in Reading, Pa. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images.

Some of President Trump’s own supporters are not convinced he won the 2020 election, with one in 10 of them saying they think Joe Biden will be the next president, according to a new poll from a bipartisan group focused on strengthening democratic institutions.

Why it matters: With mail-in voting expanding Biden's lead and the president promising legal battles in several states, perceptions of the results are starting to form, according to the survey by Citizens for a Strong Democracy. The group is led by former Department of Homeland Security secretaries from both parties.

Biden says "right verdict" in Chauvin trial is "overwhelming"

President Biden told reporters Tuesday that he's "come to know" George Floyd's family and that he's "praying the verdict is the right verdict" in Derek Chauvin's trial, as the nation awaits the jury's decision.

Why it matters: Officials fear a not-guilty decision in the high-profile case could inflame racial tensions and set off a new wave of riots. The jury was sequestered and entered deliberation after closing arguments on Monday.

2 hours ago - World

After nuclear talks, Iran's president says deal could be reached soon

Hassan Rouhani. Photo: Iranian Presidency Handout via Getty

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday, after another round of nuclear talks in Vienna, that an agreement can be reached in a short time if the U.S. acts with "honesty."

Why it matters: Rouhani’s optimism comes as representatives of Iran and other world powers, including the U.S., are about to start drafting a plan to restore the 2015 nuclear deal.

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