New Analysis: Guns Drove the Increases in Homicides and Suicides from 2019 to 2021
Recently released provisional CDC data also finds worsening racial disparities in gun homicide and gun suicide
Published October 10, 2022
Gun deaths reached an all-time high in 2021, according to recently released provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new data shows 48,832 people were killed with guns in 2021, an increase of over 3,600 deaths (8%) from 2020 - the previous record high.
Guns drove the increases in homicides and suicides from 2019 to 2021
Nearly all of the increase in homicides was driven by guns. From 2019 to 2021, the gun homicide rate increased 45% while the non-gun homicide rate increased only 6%.
All of the increase in suicides was driven by guns. From 2019 to 2021, the gun suicide rate increased 10% while the non-gun suicide rate decreased by 8%.
Gun homicides increased; racial disparities worsened
The gun homicide rate increased by 8% from 5.88 deaths per 100,000 in 2020 to 6.36 deaths per 100,000 in 2021. In raw numbers, gun homicides increased from 19,384 in 2020 to 20,966 in 2021, a record high. From 2019 to 2021, the gun homicide rates increased 45%.
This increase was primarily concentrated in Black and Hispanic/Latino communities. Black and Hispanic/Latino people were 13.7 and 2.4 times, respectively, as likely to die by gun homicide as white people in 2021, the largest disparity in over a decade.
From 2020 to 2021, the gun homicide rate increased by:
- 15% among Hispanic/Latino people
- 8% among Black people
- 2% among white people
Gun suicides rose to a record high; Black and Hispanic/Latino people see sharpest increase
While the gun suicide rate increased only 1% during the first year of the pandemic (2019 to 2020), it increased 8% from 7.37 per 100,000 in 2020 to 7.99 in 2021. In raw numbers, gun suicides increased from 24,292 in 2020 to 26,322 in 2021, a record high. (2,030 additional gun suicides). This was the highest one-year increase in gun suicides recorded by the CDC.
Both males and females experienced a similar rise in gun suicides.
While over 80% of all gun suicides that occurred in 2021 were among white people, Black and Hispanic/Latino people experienced the highest increases from 2020 to 2021.
From 2020 to 2021, the gun suicide rate increased by:
- 21% among Black people
- 14% among Hispanic/Latino people
- 7% among white people
All provisional data is part of the CDC WONDER database, which is based on death certificates.