Gun violence deaths hit record high in 2020, report says


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The death toll from gun violence in the United States hit a record high in 2020: an average of 124 people killed every day, according to a new report from Johns Hopkins University.

Analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions showed there were 45,222 gun deaths in the USA in 2020, a 15% increase from 2019. Firearm homicides increased by 35%.

Suicides accounted for more than half of all gun deaths in the United States in 2020 – 24,292, according to the report released last week.

“People can be affected by different types of gun violence, but it’s really something that’s a crisis across America,” said Ari Davis, policy adviser at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions and lead author of the report, to USA TODAY.

The 45,222 gun deaths were the highest number recorded since the CDC began tracking gun deaths in 1968, the study authors said. However, the gun death rate, or the number of deaths per 100,000 people, was below peaks in the 1990s, the report said.

Armed violence has had an acute impact on young people: For people under 25, firearms were the leading cause of death, and people under 30 were nearly 10 times more likely to die from gun violence than COVID-19 in 2020 , according to the report.

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Dr Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, who was not involved in the report, said the results were not surprising, but “the numbers are still staggering”.

“We actually have solutions to (gun violence), and the fact that we really haven’t acted, I think, is the most glaring problem,” Benjamin said.

Require gun owners to obtain a license before purchasing a gun, enact domestic violence laws and extreme risk protection orders, and invest in community-based gun violence intervention programs were among the report’s policy recommendations.

According to the Hopkins researchers’ analysis of the data, the gun death rate in states with weaker gun laws was higher than in states with laws that provide for the purchase of licenses and guns. extreme risk protection orders.

“We are investing huge sums of money in research and solutions to other leading causes of death, and … we should do the same for one of the main killers of our youth,” Davis said.

The report found wide disparities in how gun violence affects Americans. Men were five times more likely to die from firearm homicide and seven times more likely to die from firearm suicide than women. Black males were 15 times more likely to die by firearm homicide than white males, while white males accounted for nearly three-quarters of all firearm suicides despite accounting for less than one-third of the American population.

Among other finds in the report was a 47% increase in the rate of firearm homicides among black women. “That was a really shocking statistic,” Davis said.

The report highlights factors that coincided with the spike in gun deaths and may have played a role, including the COVID-19 pandemic, a record increase in gun sales, protests and unrest after the murder of George Floyd and the political divisions. during an election, including attempts to delegitimize the results.

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“It’s not just one thing,” said Cassandra Crifasi, director of research and policy at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions. “Not all of the structural, social and economic factors and determinants of health that contributed to violence disappeared when the pandemic hit. In many cases, these factors were exacerbated.”

The report found that black people were most at risk of firearm homicide among demographic groups, being more than 12 times more likely to be victims of firearm homicide than white people. Young black men and adolescent males between the ages of 15 and 34 were disproportionately affected, accounting for 38% of firearm homicides but representing only 2% of the total population.

“It’s about racial justice. It’s about health equity. If we want to reduce health disparities, we should address gun violence,” Davis said.

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