Firearms Are Leading Cause of Death for Americans Ages 1-24, 1 in 10 Gun Deaths Are Children and Teens
Report from Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is first major analysis of newly released CDC firearm mortality data
WASHINGTON— February 23, 2021– The first major analysis of newly released U.S. Centers for Disease Control firearm mortality data shows the breadth and depth of America’s gun violence epidemic, which for the third consecutive year, killed nearly 40,000 Americans, 1 in 10 of which were children and teens. According to the new report from the Coalition to the Stop Gun Violence and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, the 2019 CDC data reveals disproportionate rates of gun death among Black Americans and Americans of color, the highest rates of gun death occurring in rural counties, and the fact that the vast majority of gun deaths — 60% — are firearm suicides.
The report analyzes CDC’s 2019 fatality data which is based on death certificates and was added to its WONDER database in December 2020. The data represents the most reliable gun violence data currently available in the U.S. The report was compiled by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the nation’s oldest gun violence prevention organization, and its affiliate organization, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, which uses a public health and equity lens to reduce gun violence.
“The latest data shows that guns kill more Americans than car crashes, account for half of all suicide fatalities, and are the leading cause of death for our children and teens,” said Dakota Jablon, Director of Federal Affairs at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “This data shows how pervasive gun death is no matter your age, background or location in this country, yet that deep disparities remain that leave some communities at much greater risk than others. We need better, faster data that doesn’t take more than a year to become public, and we need swift action from elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels to pass gun violence prevention laws that save lives.”
The report from CSGV and EFSGV details overall gun death information, and breaks the impacts down by age, race and ethnicity, rural vs. urban areas, type of gun violence, gun deaths vs. other fatal injuries, and state-by-state data. It argues for a comprehensive public health approach to gun violence prevention, applied with an equity lens, that includes robust legislation, funding across all levels of government, and executive action from the new presidential administration.
Overall, the data show that 39,707 people, 86% of whom were male, lost their lives to gun violence in 2019, part of a three-year cluster with a higher gun death rate than any other time in the last two decades. Further, almost one in ten (3,390) gun deaths in 2019 were children and teens, the second-highest number of annual child and teen gun deaths in twenty years. In 2019, firearms were the leading cause of death for American children, teens, and young adults ages 1 to 24.
The data reveals the reality of the effects of racism and inequity: 37% of gun homicide victims were Black males between the ages of 15 and 34 – although they made up only 2% of the U.S. population. Their gun homicide rate was more than 20 times higher than White males of the same age group.
The majority — 60% — of gun deaths in 2019 were suicides, 23,941 in total. Firearm suicide risk was highest among White men age 75 and older, though for men of every other racial and ethnic identity, firearm suicide risk peaked between the ages of 20 and 34. Firearms continue to account for half of all suicide fatalities.
The total gun death rate — including all forms of gun fatalities — was highest in the most rural counties, driven largely by having the highest rate of firearm suicide as compared to other urbanization levels. Gun homicide rates, on the other hand, were highest in urban counties. The total gun death rate was lowest in the suburbs.
The full report is available online as part of the research library developed by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, which also includes analysis of U.S. firearm homicides, suicides, and community gun violence, as well as prevention policies such as extreme risk protection orders, universal background checks and more.
Tom Fazzini, West End Strategy Team
About the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence
The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV) is a 501(c)(3) affiliate organization of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the nation’s oldest gun violence prevention organization which develops and advocates for evidence-based solutions to reduce gun injury and death in all its forms. EFSGV uses a public health and equity lens to identify and implement evidence-based policy solutions and programs to reduce gun violence in all its forms and to make gun violence rare and abnormal. EFSGV is the gun violence prevention movement’s premier research intermediary and founder of the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, a group of academics and practitioners who collaborate to develop innovative recommendations for policymakers.