Figures from the US law enforcement agency also show that gun violence was driving the crime-related death rate, with 76 per cent of murders being committed using firearms, up three per cent on 2019.
Some areas witnessed a particularly sharp rise: in Houston, gun violence rose from 221 murders in 2019 to 343 in 2020.
The figures are likely to revive a passionate debate on gun control in the US, which has become one of President Joe Biden’s key domestic policies.
Gun control and community policing
The president has already used executive orders to crack down on untraceable weapons, so-called “ghost guns”. Mr Biden is also pushing for greater controls on automatic rifles, or “assault rifles”, and was a supporter of the ban on high capacity magazines for automatic rifles, aimed to reduce the death toll in mass shootings.
The figures could also raise debate on Mr Biden’s pledge to reform policing in the US, following his proposed election campaign policy of allocating more funds for Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS. The idea behind COPs is to take a more holistic approach to local crime, prioritising better relations between police services and the community.
Additional federal funds could be used for “more police officers, more nurses, more counsellors, more social workers or community violence interrupters to help resolve issues before they escalate into crimes,” Mr Biden said in June.
Overall violent crime was up 5.6 per cent to nearly 1.3 million incidents, although property crime fell 7.8 per cent to nearly 6.5 million incidents, marking the 18th consecutive year that property crimes have decreased, the FBI said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting programme collects data reported by law enforcement agencies across the country.
The Democratic president, who has long-standing ties to law enforcement, has also announced steps to hold rogue firearms dealers accountable for breaking federal laws and help states hire more police officers using Covid-19 rescue funds.