Washington – Gun violence in the United States reached its highest level in 25 years in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, with the highest number of deaths by firearm in that period and an increase in homicides of 35 percent. cent compared to the previous year.
This is pointed out by a report from the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which considers firearm injuries a “serious public health problem” in the country and for this reason they prepare this study that includes recommendations and strategies to prevent injuries and deaths from this cause.
In 2020, there were 19,350 firearm homicides compared to 14,392 in 2019, according to CDC data.RELATED
The report does not include figures for 2021, although organizations such as The Gun Violence Archive have already made their estimates, collecting police data, and they exceed those of 2020: 20,600 deaths by firearm last year.
The figures are even higher in the case of suicides.
According to the CDC, 24,000 people killed themselves with a firearm in 2020. A figure that The Gun Violence Archive raises to 24,100 in the case of the year 2021.
Gunshot wounds are considered, “tragically, a serious public health problem in the United States,” explained Debra Houry, deputy director of the CDC, during a telephone press conference to present the report.
As Houry explained, 79 percent of homicides and 53 percent of suicides in 2020 occurred with firearms.
By racial group, the largest increase in homicide deaths, 39 percent, occurred among black men. Suicides barely increased and remained very high, although they did increase most notably in two groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The homicide rate in the country went from 4.6 to 6.1 people per 100,000 and the largest increases, the report emphasizes, occurred among the population group of blacks aged between 10 and 44 years and Native Americans aged between 25 and 44 years.
In any case, Dr. Tom Simon, associate director of the CDC and head of the Division of Violence Prevention, warned that poverty is above race as an influential factor in deaths by firearms in the United States, either homicides or suicides.
In this sense, the report points out that the greatest increase in homicides occurred in the highest levels of poverty.
This expert recalled, however, that it is the racial minorities that live in the poorest areas of the country.
Simon explained that the study does not delve into the reasons for firearm homicides and suicides in 2020, although he admitted that among the “multiple explanations” may be the stress and alterations brought by the pandemic, such as social isolation, problems economic or household instability.
The pandemic, he said, could increase the effects of other factors such as economic precariousness, especially among the poorest communities with racial minorities.
Being treated as a public health problem, the CDC includes in its report preventive measures and policies to try to reduce it, such as promoting programs in which social workers committed to the communities and in direct contact with them help to “short-circuit” this violence .
They also cited violence prevention programs in hospitals aimed especially at young people and victims of firearms who are admitted to these centers.
And they spoke of other actions aimed at strengthening the economy and social stability in the most vulnerable communities to remove the risk of weapons from them.
The data from the CDC report are already far from the figures that are becoming known this year and that are not encouraging either.
Thus, according to data compiled by The Gun Violence Archive until May 2, there had already been 6,296 homicides by firearm with 173 mass shootings -with four or more affected- and 8,052 suicides.