Gun Homicides Rose Sharply, Jumped 39% During Pandemic, Black Men Most Affected

According to a new study, gun deaths skyrocketed in the United States between 2019 and 2020. Men were most affected, with Black men most frequently killed in gun murders and white men in gun suicides.

The study found that gun killing rates for Black people were nearly seven times those for white people. Between 2019 and 2020, gun homicides rose 39% for Black people, highlighting a grim statistic associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past four decades, firearm injuries disproportionately affected certain demographic groups in U.S. society, wrote the authors, Dr. Henry Xiang of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Lindsay Young of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

The “United States must treat violence and firearm-related injuries as [a] national health priority,” they said in a PLOS ONE news release.

Young and Xiang analyzed 1981-2020 data on gun death rates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, comparing rates between racial groups and genders.

In the United States, about 60% of suicides involve guns, as do 36% of homicides. Homicide rates for men were five times higher than for women. The suicide rate for men was seven times higher than the suicide rate for women. Minority groups felt the most impact of homicide and suicide in terms of potential life lost before age 75, according to data from 2011 to 2020.

The authors said that efforts to prevent gun deaths should account for the demographics of people most affected. These efforts are urgent. Dismantling structural racism in the nation is also necessary to address these disparities, they said.

What This Means for You

The United States must make gun violence a national health priority, the study authors say.

More information

Pew Research Center has more on gun deaths in the United States.

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