KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — 2020 saw the highest firearm homicide rate in more than 25 years with a historic increase of 35% in the firearm homicide rate, the Centers for Disease Control said in a report released Tuesday.
The CDC released an analysis looking a the changes in firearm homicide and suicide rates in the United State from 2019 to 2020. In addition to an increase in the firearm homicide rate, researchers with the CDC found disparities by race/ethnicity and poverty level widened.
According to the analysis, firearms were involved in 79% of all homicides and 53% of all suicides in 2020. Firearm homicide rates increased across all age groups with the highest rates and increases seen among those 10-44 years old. Overall, firearm homicide rates are highest among males, adolescents, young adults, and non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native people. Larger increases in the homicide rates were also seen in counties with higher poverty levels.
The overall firearm suicide rate remained nearly level between 2019 and 2020, however, an increase was seen in people 10-24 and 25-44 years old. This increase was offset by a decrease among those 45-64 years old. When looking at age, sex and race/ethnicity simultaneously, firearm suicide rates increased the most among non-Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native males aged 10–44. The analysis also found that rates were highest at the highest poverty level and lowest at the lowest poverty level.
“The tragic and historic increase in firearm homicide and the persistently high rates of firearm suicide underscore the urgent need for action to reduce firearm-related injuries and deaths,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H. “By addressing factors contributing to homicide and suicide and providing support to communities, we can help stop violence now and in the future.”
The CDC said a “comprehensive approach is needed to help reduce firearm-related deaths”. In a release, the CDC suggests using strategies focusing on underlying conditions to reduce disparities and the risk for violence while strengthening protective factors at the individual, family, and community levels.
“Firearm deaths are preventable—not inevitable—and everyone has a role to play in prevention,” said Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H, CDC acting principal deputy director and director, CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Resources like CDC’s violence prevention technical packages and surveillance systems can give leaders tools to lay the foundation for healthier and safer communities.”