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2020 CDC Data Shows Record Number of Gun Deaths, Makes Clear the Need for Immediate Action to Address Gun Violence in America

CDC reports 45,000 people died from gun violence, a 15% increase from 2019

Washington, D.C. — A new release of provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that more than 45,000 people were killed by guns in 2020, a level of gun deaths not seen in decades. Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, has been calling for immediate action on gun violence. These data illustrate the tragic consequences of the failure to enact evidence-based gun safety laws. 

“The data released by the CDC today is staggering and illustrates a gun violence crisis spiraling out of control. A nearly 15% increase in gun deaths means that 45,000 lives were lost. This is heartbreaking, and all the more tragic because we know how to reduce gun violence, yet our elected leaders lack the courage to act and continue to prioritize guns over lives,” said Robyn Thomas, Giffords Law Center Executive Director. “Too many families and communities have had their lives altered by this crisis, and after years of escalating gun violence, we know that this problem isn’t going away on its own. It is now more urgent than ever that we make this public health problem a priority and invest in solutions.”

This new data shows an average of more than 120 gun deaths per day—more than 11 additional gun deaths per day than in 2019. In fact, while gun deaths were unacceptably high in 2019, if they had remained at those levels in 2020, more than 5,500 Americans would still be alive today. The sharp spike in gun deaths last year comes after several years of increasing gun deaths. 

These data underscore the toll gun violence takes on the safety and wellbeing of neighborhoods across the country. Increases in gun violence were driven largely by increases in gun homicides. Nationally, overall homicides rose by 30% from 2019 to 2020. Overall suicides decreased slightly over this period. 

All but five states—Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Nebraska, and New Hampshire—saw increases in gun deaths in 2020 compared to 2019. Several states experienced a more than 25% increase in their gun death rates in this period: Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, and Vermont. Nine additional states saw a more than 20% increase in their gun death rate. 

In addition to Robyn Thomas, the following experts are available for interviews on the new CDC data: 

  • Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director  
  • Kelly Drane, Giffords Law Center Research Director 
  • Alex Nguyen, Giffords Law Center Research Manager


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