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

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 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 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.”

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