Firearm-Related Homicides Reach an Unprecedented Level in the 21st Century

PC: Thomas Def with Unsplash

By Luke Kyaw

WASHINGTON, DC – According to newly-released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, gun-related homicides in 2020 reached the highest level ever recorded since 1994 in the U.S.

In this first year of the pandemic, the country saw an increase from 14,392 homicides involving firearms the previous year to 19,350, which is a 35 percent increase.

Thomas Simon, PhD, from the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control commented, “That is nearly 5,000 more lives lost to firearm homicide in one year.”

He also stated that this increase was “pervasive” in that it affected all geographic areas, ages, and sexes alike and he attributed it partly to “disruptions to services and education, social isolation, economic stressors such as job loss, housing instability, and difficulty covering daily expenses” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another aspect the new CDC data shone light on was the exacerbation of already present disparities. Researchers had found the largest increases of deaths caused by these firearm homicides in Black males aged 10 to 44.

Even before the study, Black males in this age group already suffered from the highest firearm homicide rate and this rate just continued to increase. Among females, Black individuals aged 10 to 44 also had the highest rates and increases of firearm homicides.

This rise in gun violence has alarmed cities and states all over the nation, leading the U.S. to urgently look for and implement solutions.

Debra Houry, MD, PhD, acting principal deputy director for the CDC, highlighted the need for targeted prevention and noted as an example that “violence interrupters”—who help identify and mediate conflicts to prevent them from escalating—have shown “promising results.”

About The Author

Luke Kyaw is an incoming third-year at UCLA majoring in Public Affairs. He immigrated from Myanmar in 2015 and currently resides in San Gabriel, California.

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1 Comment

  1. Scott Steward

    Bringing Luke Kyaw’s article home

    It’s not a question of if we are going to experience a mass shooting.  

    Where are we with dialogue about gun violence in Yolo. The possibility of this event was first described by Desmond Jolly shortly following the gunning down of officer Natalie Corona in January of 2019, three years ago.

    Where are we with the University of California Department of Violence Prevention, local Law Enforcement agencies and Community Organizations, cosponsorship of a biennial Natalie Corona Conference on Mental Health and Gun Violence?  .
    The Violence Prevention Program is unique in the country in that it has a budget to investigate the causes of gun violence (and other violence).  UCD can use this charter to create dialogue in Yolo County (make us the research) and attempt to replace the mistrust that exists in a world where the courts are not going to prevent the spread of automatic weapons. In California, you just need a hunting license to purchase an automatic weapon.  

    More likely we are going to experience a Rittenhouse incident, where an out of state youth is convinced his (most likely a him/he) calling is to act as a martyr for the white nationalist cause and take out some concentration of black folks at a store or activists at a rally.

    Like many of you, I am beside myself with the necessity of extinguishing the source of this kind of that has been allowed to take hold in this country.  I continue to have faith that we will succeed in holding all forms of hate proselytizing accountable, but this is not a comment about grief or what will be.

    This is a comment about not waiting. We need common ground to know how to react now. We need a history of dialogue to know how to take care of ourselves and maybe how to take care of each other. We need dialogue between Law Enforcement, Black Lives Matter, PTA members, Yolo People Power, Church and Chamber leaders and a few others willing to focus on what to do about a mass shooter.  And this conference needs to be co-led, not pre-prescribed by one group or another. 

    A regular (bi-annual) Natalie Corona Conference on Gun Violence could provide healing now, a space for common ground for people to see and hear each other as we are all impacted by the rising number of more effective killing weapons.  A regular community conference on gun violence could also tell us where we need to check own potential rage machines – from all sides.

    We are all impacted by the uncertainty created by people carrying multi-munition weapons in public spaces. We are all impacted by the regularity of men shooting unarmed white, black, brown and gay people.  Let’s get this far.  Let’s get to the table and find out if there is anything about Yolo that can put us in this together.

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