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KILLING LIKE IT'S 1995! US gun deaths reached 25-year high amid 'defund the police' protests

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gun murders in the US increased by over 35 per cent in 2020 from the prior year
UPDATED MAY 11, 2022
[Representational Image] A protester carries a sign that reads 'Defund The Police' on July 3, 2020, in Richmond, Virginia (Eze Amos/Getty Images)
[Representational Image] A protester carries a sign that reads 'Defund The Police' on July 3, 2020, in Richmond, Virginia (Eze Amos/Getty Images)

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gun murders in the United States increased dramatically in 2020, reaching their highest level since 1994. According to the CDC, there were 19,350 firearm murders in the United States in 2020, up by over 35 per cent from the previous year, as calls to defund the police swept the country.

In addition, there were 24,245 gun suicides in the United States, up by 1.5 per cent from the previous year but in keeping with recent patterns. The rise in gun fatalities was mostly due to an increase in homicides. In a statement, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stated, “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. By addressing factors contributing to homicide and suicide and providing support to communities, we can help stop the violence now and in the future.” 


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According to the CDC, firearms were used in 79 per cent of all murders and 53 per cent of all suicides in 2020, with black people having the greatest gun murder rates which are increasing. The data showed that the total firearm homicide rate jumped 34.6 per cent from 2019 to 2020, from 4.6 to 6.1 per 100,000 people, the highest rate in over 25 years. Gun murder rates grew in major and small metro locations, as well as non-metro and rural areas, across the country.

[Representational Image] Former Congresswoman from Arizona and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords speaks during a demonstration with victims of gun violence in front of the Supreme Court on November 3, 2021, in Washington, DC (Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

Between 2019 and 2020, the overall rate of firearm suicide stayed roughly constant. The largest significant rise in firearm suicide rates was among Native American males aged 10 to 44. CDC added in a statement, “Long-standing systemic inequities and structural racism may contribute to unfair and avoidable health disparities among some racial and ethnic groups.” To reduce inequities and the danger of violence, the agency has also urged to implement a holistic strategy.

[Representational Image] People march near the Minnesota State Capitol to honor George Floyd on March 19, 2021, in St Paul, Minnesota (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

According to The New York Times, the commencement of the Covid pandemic, according to CDC specialists, might be responsible for the sharp rise in gun fatalities. Tom Simons, a CDC specialist in violence prevention said, “One possible explanation is stressors associated with the Covid pandemic that could have played a role. These include changes and disruptions to services and education, social isolation, economic stressors such as job loss, housing instability, and difficulty covering daily expenses.” 

The paper also addressed public law enforcement tensions, including a wave of protests in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd. Debra Houry, director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, recommended a holistic strategy centered on eliminating disparity, adding, “Firearm deaths are preventable, not inevitable.” 

[Representational Image] Police tape surrounds a crime scene where three people were shot at the Wentworth Gardens housing complex in the Bridgeport neighborhood on June 23, 2021, in Chicago, Illinois (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Houry mentioned the promising work of street outreach workers in decreasing tensions in high-crime areas as well as mediation programs put up in certain hospitals to help young people injured on the streets in stopping the cycle of violence, and suicide prevention programs.

She also stressed the need of addressing underlying economic concerns such as housing assistance or tax credits, as well as guaranteeing livable salaries for underprivileged families. Another area under discussion is the function of environmental improvements, such as the construction of green spaces or the cleanup of trash lots. “Revitalized vacant lots in communities have been associated with reduced firearm assault, with particular benefits in areas with the highest poverty,” she added.