US gun homicides hit 25-year high during Covid pandemic, CDC says

Gun homicides in the US hit their highest level in more than 25 years during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Firearm homicides rose 35% during the first year of the pandemic to the highest level since 1994, according to a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report released Tuesday. The firearm homicide rate increased to 6.1 per 100,000 people in 2020 compared to 4.6 per 100,000 in 2019.

Excluding suicides, more than 19,000 people died from firearms in 2020 compared with more than 14,000 the year before, according to the CDC report, which is based on death certificates. The study did not include accidental firearm deaths or deaths in which intent could not be determined.

Gun violence homicides increased among people of all ages, in most racial groups, for men and women, in cities and rural areas, and in all regions of the nation.

Black Americans suffered the most with the gun violence homicide rate rising nearly 40% to 26.6 per 100,000 people or nearly 12,000 total, about 12 times the rate among white Americans. The disparity was even greater among boys, with a 21.6 times higher firearm homicide rate among black men ages 10 to 24 compared to white men of the same age.

Gun homicides increased 27% to 8.1 per 100,000 people among Native Americans, nearly 26% among Hispanics to 4.5 per 100,000, and about 28% among whites to 2 .2 per 100,000. The firearm homicide rate decreased 4.2% among Asian Americans to 1 per 100,000 people.

Separately, firearm suicides rose 1.5% to 8.1 per 100,000 people during the first year of the pandemic. The gun suicide rate was highest among Native Americans at 10.9 per 100,000 and whites at 10.4 per 100,000 people.

The firearm homicide rate was more than five times higher among men than women, and in terms of age, firearm murders were highest among 25-44 year olds.

In the US, 79% of homicides and 53% of suicides involved firearms in 2020, according to the CDC. More than 24,000 suicides involved firearms in 2020.

Gun murders and suicides were closely associated with poverty, according to the study. U.S. counties with the highest poverty rates had firearm homicide and suicide rates that were 4.5 and 1.3 times higher, respectively, than counties with the lowest poverty levels. Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans were more likely to live in counties with higher poverty rates, according to the CDC.

While the study did not investigate the reasons for the dramatic rise in gun homicides, the CDC said the pandemic may have played a role by disrupting social services, schools, work and housing, as well as increasing social isolation. .

The pandemic caused millions of people to lose their jobs, with the unemployment rate reaching 14.7% at the height of the crisis in April 2020. The economic downturn hit minority communities especially hard, particularly African-Americans . It was also a year of historic social unrest, with the murder of George Floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer sparking protests across the country.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

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