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US firearm homicide rates increased by nearly 35 percent during pandemic: report

A tent covers the body of the alleged gunman, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, in Lansing, Mich., who opened fire Monday night at Michigan State University, killing three people and wounding five before fatally shooting himself after a manhunt forcing students to hide in the dark. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The firearm homicide rate in the U.S. surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching its highest level in the country since 1994, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

During the pandemic, firearm homicides spiked by nearly 35 percent, according to the CDC report. The increase also widened disparities in the firearm homicide rate along the lines of race, ethnicity and poverty level.

The report revealed that in 2020 the overall homicide rate increased from 4.6 to 6.1 per 100,000 people, but the largest increase in rate occurred with Black males between 10 and 44 years old and non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaskan Native males between 25 and 44. The rate of firearm homicides were the lowest and increased the least at higher levels of income and were highest and increased the most at the highest poverty rates.

The CDC report said underlying economic and social conditions must be addressed to help alleviate the increasing homicide rates, arguing action was “urgently needed to reduce these rates and disparities.”

“A comprehensive approach is needed to prevent and respond to firearm injuries in communities, including strategies that engage community and street outreach programs, implement hospital-based violence prevention programs, improve community physical environments, enhance secure storage of firearms, and strengthen social and economic supports,” the report said.

The firearm suicide rate remained relatively steady over the pandemic, but certain demographics also saw increases in the rate of suicides by gun. While the overall firearm suicide rate jumped modestly from 7.9 to 8.1 per 100,000 people, it increased among non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaskan Native males between 10 and 44 years old.

The report from the CDC comes as the debate over gun violence reignited in the U.S. this week following a shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., left three elementary school students and three adults dead. 

Tags CDC gun violence

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