Gun deaths reached the highest number ever recorded in the United States in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, as gun-related homicides surged by 35 percent, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday.
“This is a historic increase, with the rate having reached the highest level in over 25 years,” Dr. Debra E. Houry, acting principal deputy director of the C.D.C. and the director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said at a news briefing.
More than 45,000 Americans died in gun-related incidents as the pandemic spread in the United States, the highest number on record, federal data show. The gun homicide rate was the highest reported since 1994.
That represents the largest one-year increase in gun homicides in modern history, according to Ari Davis, a policy adviser at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, which recently released its own analysis of C.D.C. data.
Firearm injuries are a serious public health problem. In 2020, there were 45,222 firearm-related deaths in the United States – that’s about 124 people dying from a firearm-related injury each day. More than half of firearm-related deaths were suicides and more than 4 out of every 10 were firearm homicides.
More people suffer nonfatal firearm-related injuries than die. More than seven out of every 10 medically treated firearm injuries are from firearm-related assaults. Nearly 2 out of every 10 are from unintentional firearm injuries. There are few intentionally self-inflicted firearm-related injuries seen in hospital emergency departments. Most people who use a firearm in a suicide attempt, die from their injury.
Firearm injuries affect people in all stages of life. In 2020, firearm-related injuries were among the 5 leading causes of death for people ages 1-44 in the United States.
Some groups have higher rates of firearm injury than others. Men account for 86% of all victims of firearm death and 87% of nonfatal firearm injuries. Rates of firearm violence also vary by age and race/ethnicity. Firearm homicide rates are highest among teens and young adults 15-34 years of age and among Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Hispanic or Latino populations. Firearm suicide rates are highest among adults 75 years of age and older and among American Indian or Alaska Native and non-Hispanic white populations.