Gun Violence is an Ongoing Health Issue
For the second straight year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded its highest number of gun-related deaths.
A 2023 report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions studied recently available 2021 CDC data. It revealed some deeply concerning realities about gun violence in the U.S. For one thing, it’s increasing far more than anticipated, as 2021 was yet another record year for firearm fatalities.
The study also showed that it is the alarming number of firearms and ease of access to them that are the main causes of rising gun deaths. Clearly, gun violence is not a problem of bad people or rough neighborhoods. Guns are everywhere, and the violence associated with them is a serious public health issue — one that the Center for Gun Violence Solutions is taking on in some important and encouraging ways.
The Center for Gun Violence Solutions was founded at the Bloomberg School in 1995. The Center uses research to develop solutions and advise lawmakers on policies to effectively addresses gun violence.
If you or a family member has been impacted by gun violence and you feel it is affecting the mental health and well-being of you or your loved one, we encourage you to take advantage of our mental health resources.
A Year in Review: 2021 Gun Deaths in the U.S.
Consider these alarming statistics from the Center’s report:
- In 2021, gun violence killed nearly 49,000 people, the highest number ever recorded.
- Each day of 2021, an average of 134 people died from gun violence — one death every 11 minutes.
- Gun homicides rose by 45% in just one year — adding over 9,000 more lives lost to gun homicide in 2021, compared to 2019.
- There were over 26,000 gun suicides in 2021 — not only a record high, but the highest since the CDC began recording gun suicide data in 1968.
- In 2021, 81% of all homicides were by firearm, the highest proportion in history.
- Once again, guns were the leading cause of death among children and teens in 2021, accounting for more deaths than COVID-19, car crashes or cancers.
- In 2021, firearms were the leading cause of death for children and teens 1 to 19 years of age.
- Young people under 30 years of age were nearly 4 times more likely to die by firearm in 2021 than from COVID-19.
- Black males ages 15 to 34 were over 24 times more likely to be a victim of gun homicide in 2021 than white males in the same age group.
- More than half of all Black teens — 51% — ages 15 to 19 who died in 2021 were killed by a gun.
- While Black teens and young men ages 15 to 34 represent only 2% of the population, they accounted for 36% of all gun homicide deaths in 2021.
- The number of Black females who died by gun homicide in 2021 increased by 77%, compared to 2020.
- In 2021, white males, who account for less than 30% of the U.S. population, accounted for 70% of all firearm suicide deaths.
It is very important to keep in mind that each of these data points mentioned is a person whose life was lost to gun violence and whose families, friends and communities have been impacted. The above statistics can only reveal in part the depth of the burden of gun violence, a completely preventable public health risk that affects Americans from all walks of life. By measuring the scope of the crisis and informing ourselves about its impact on individuals and communities, we can better determine solutions that work to decrease gun violence and ultimately eliminate gun violence as a public health threat.