According to data released by the CDC on Thursday, there were more than 8% more gun-related killings and suicides between 2020 and 2021.
Homicides by firearm increased by 8.1% in 2021, from 20,966 to 19,383 in 2020. In that time, the number of firearm suicides increased by 8.3%, from 24,292 to 26,320. The CDC reported that these were the highest total rates of firearm homicide and suicide since 1993 and 1990, respectively.
According to the CDC, the age group of 25 to 44 had the greatest homicide rate, and generally, Black individuals continued to have the highest homicide rate across all age groups.
According to NBC News, Thomas Simon, PhD, the study’s lead author and the associate director for science in the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention, the rate of firearm homicides among Black people aged 10 to 24 in 2021 was approximately 25 times higher than the rate among White people in that age range.
In 2021, there were 25,987 homicides overall, an increase of 5.9% from 2020, and roughly 81% of them involved weapons. In 2021, there were 48,023 suicides overall, a 4.3% rise from 2020. Nearly 55% of these suicides involved a firearm.
The CDC research recognised that “many socioeconomic and structural variables are related with risk for homicide and suicide,” but could not explain why the rates of homicide and suicide increased.
Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in gun sales. From January 1, 2019, through April 26, 2021, the National Library of Medicine stated that 2.9% of adult Americans became new owners. This equates to 7.5 million additional gun owners, 5.4 million of whom now reside in households without prior gun ownership.
The incidence of firearm homicides has increased by approximately 35% between 2019 and 2020, and experts had assumed that it would stabilise or decline. According to Simon, the increases were likely caused by societal and individual issues brought on by the pandemic.
When you consider what our nation underwent, Simon said, “there were significant changes and disruptions to a range of services, to our educational system, lots of opportunities for increases in mental stress, increases in social isolation, not to mention the economic stressors and job losses and housing instability that we’ve been experiencing as a nation.” And each of these elements might have played a role.
According to the CDC analysis, hospital-based interventions and street outreach are two prevention initiatives that could reduce the incidence.