Gun homicides in the US hit a more than 25-year high during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gun homicides jumped 35% in the first year of the pandemic to the highest level since 1994, according to a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report released Tuesday. The gun homicide rate rises to 6.1 per 100,000 people in 2020 from 4.6 per 100,000 in 2019.
Excluding suicides, more than 19,000 people have died from guns in 2020 compared with more than 14,000 the year before, the CDC reports. Gun violence homicides are on the rise in people of all ages, in most racial groups, men and women, in cities and rural areas, and in all parts of the country.
Black Americans suffered the most, with the gun violence homicide rate increasing by nearly 40 percent to 26.6 per 100,000 people, about 12 times higher than the rate among white Americans. The disparity is even larger among boys, with gun homicide rates 21.6 times higher for Black men aged 10 to 24 years than for white men of the same age.
Gun homicides rose 27% to 8.1 per 100,000 people in Native Americans, nearly 26% among Hispanics to 4.5 per 100,000, and about 28% among whites to 2, 2 per 100,000 people. The gun homicide rate fell 4.2 percent among Asian Americans to per 100,000.
Separately, gun-related suicides increased 1.5% to 8.1 per 100,000 people in the first year of the pandemic. The gun suicide rate is highest among whites at 10.4 per 100,000 and Native Americans at 10.9 per 100,000.
In the US, 79% of homicides out of 53% of suicides involve guns in 2020, according to the CDC.
According to research, homicides and gun suicides are strongly linked to poverty. The counties with the highest poverty rates in the US suffer from gun homicide and suicide rates 4.5 and 1.3 times higher, respectively, than the counties with the lowest poverty rates. According to CDC.
While the study did not investigate the reasons for the dramatic increase in gun homicides, the CDC said the pandemic may have played some role by disrupting social services, schools, work and housing, as well as increasing social isolation.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.