December 16, 2021 

Joi Ridley, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, 202-999-7599

Adam Peck, West End Strategy Team, 202-531-6408


CDC: U.S. Gun Deaths Reached Highest Level Ever in 2020

Increase in gun deaths coincides with record gun sales

WASHINGTON — Gun deaths in the U.S. reached the highest level ever recorded in 2020, claiming the lives of more than 45,000 Americans, according to newly-released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A review of the CDC data by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV), which uses a public health and equity lens to reduce gun violence, found that the increase is driven by a dramatic rise in gun homicide – nearly 5,000 more gun homicides than 2019 – and a persistently high number of gun suicides. The increase coincided with a record increase in gun sales in 2020

The new provisional data was released this week in the CDC WONDER database, which is based on death certificates. Major findings from the EFSGV review of the data include: 

  • In 2020, there were 45,247 gun deaths in the U.S., the highest number of gun deaths ever in the U.S., and a 14% increase from 2019. There were 19,411 gun homicides and 24,297 gun suicides.
    • Firearm homicides increased by nearly 5,000, or 35% from 2019 to 2020. Non-firearm homicides only increased by 10.3% during the same period. The firearm homicide spike was experienced in communities across the country – both rural and urban.
    • For children and teens under 18, gun homicides increased by 47% from 2019 to 2020.
    • For the second time in three years, more than 24,000 Americans died by gun suicide.
  • The increase in homicides in the U.S. in 2020 was driven almost exclusively by guns.
    • 79% of homicides were by firearm in 2020, the highest proportion on record. 
  • Black and Hispanic/Latino Americans are much more likely to be killed by a gun than white Americans. 
    • In 2020, there was a 51% increase in Black females who died by gun homicide compared to 2019. 
    • In 2020, 1 in every 1,000 Black males ages 15-34 was killed by firearm homicide.
    • In 2020, Black males ages 15-34 were almost 23 times more likely to be killed by a gun than their white counterparts.
    • In 2020, Hispanic/Latino males ages 15-34 were three times as likely to be killed by a gun than their white counterparts.

“The U.S. is battling an epidemic of gun violence at the same time it faces a global epidemic of COVID-19,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. “Responding to our epidemic of gun violence requires a public health approach including action from elected officials at the local, state and federal levels. As Americans buy more guns, more Americans – especially more Americans of color – are dying by gun homicide and gun suicide. The bottom line is that our elected officials need to treat gun violence with urgency and do much more to ensure all Americans can live free from the fear of gun violence.”

“These data are consistent with data from law enforcement agencies and underscore how the crisis of gun violence in our nation disproportionately impacts communities of color,” said Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Policymakers at all levels must act swiftly to adopt evidence-based solutions to save lives.”

EFSGV will continue to analyze this data and will release more detailed analysis in the coming months. Last year, EFSGV released a comprehensive report on CDC firearm mortality data for 2019


About the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence

The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV) 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.