U.S. Gun Deaths Reach Highest Level in Decades
More Americans are dying from gun violence, in both homicides and suicides, than they have in decades, a new report shows.
The U.S. gun death rate hit its highest level in nearly 30 years, with the sheer number of people dying from guns reaching 47,000 last year, the highest in 40 years, according to the study.
Increases were higher for women than men, and especially for Black women. Among Black women, firearm-related homicides have tripled since 2010, while suicides have doubled since 2015.
“Women can get lost in the discussion because so many of the fatalities are men,” study co-author Dr. Eric Fleegler, an associate professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, told the Associated Press.
Researchers found a 71% increase in the number of women killed by guns, from four per 100,000 in 2010 to seven per 100,000 last year. Women comprise about 14% of overall gun deaths.
In Black women, suicides rose from a rate of 1.5 per 100,000 in 2015 to about three per 100,000 last year. Homicides in Black women were 18 per 100,000, while they were four per 100,000 in Hispanic women and just two per 100,000 in white women.
More than 1.1 million people were killed by guns during the study's 32-year timeframe.
Researchers found a steady increase in gun deaths beginning in 2005, and then a sharp jump from 2019 to 2021, when deaths rose 20%.
Fleegler said that asking why gun deaths would rise during the pandemic was “a straightforward question with probably a complicated answer that no one really knows the answer to.”
Experts said it could be a mix of higher gun sales, stress, mental health issues and disruptions at home and work.
Men also saw an increase in gun deaths, and Black men continued to have the highest gun death rates.
The increase in men killed by guns was 45%, from about 18 per 100,000 in 2010 to 26 per 100,000 last year. For Black men in their early 20s, gun deaths were 142 per 100,000.
The rate of gun-related suicide was highest among elderly white men, with 45 per 100,000 for those in their early 80s.
A commentary published with the study, written by three University of Michigan researchers, noted the paper's confirmation that homicides involving guns occur largely in cities and suicides often happen in rural areas.
The findings were published Nov. 29 in the journal JAMA Network Open.
The Pew Research Center has more on U.S. gun deaths.
SOURCE: Associated Press