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A Devastating Toll: 2021 CDC Data Shows Record Number of Gun Deaths

CDC data reveals nearly 49,000 people died from gun violence

Washington DC — Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data showing that 48,830 people were killed by guns in 2021—an eight percent increase over the already historically high level of gun deaths in 2020. More than 15,000 more Americans died from gun violence in 2021 compared to 2012, just one decade earlier. This data underscores the urgency of our nation’s gun violence crisis and the need for continued action to keep our communities safe. 

“Nearly 49,000 American lives were stolen by gun violence in 2021. This is a staggering and devastating toll,” said Kelly Drane, Research Director at Giffords Law Center. “While that overwhelming number can feel hard to wrap our heads around, let’s be clear: these are 48,830 parents, grandparents, children, sisters, and brothers that were lost to a tragedy we know how to prevent. These are parents who won’t get to see their kids grow up, children who lose their mothers or fathers in the blink of an eye—all because too many of our leaders refused to take comprehensive action. Gun violence is an epidemic in our country. It’s time our leaders address this as the public health crisis it is and enact lifesaving, comprehensive solutions.”

Gun deaths in the US have been rising for several years, with smaller, steadier increases between 2014 and 2019 and large surges in gun deaths in 2020 and 2021. Other findings from this new data include: 

  • Increases in gun violence were felt across the nation. All but five states saw an increased gun death rate in 2021 compared to 2020. 
  • 2021 saw an eight percent increase in gun suicides over the previous year, representing the largest one year increase in the gun suicide rate on record. 
  • Gun homicides increased by 8 percent from 2020 to 2021, with 1,574 additional people losing their lives in gun homicides. 
  • Gun violence continued to be a leading cause of death for American children—outpacing deaths from car crashes, cancer, and COVID-19. One in every 14 children under age 18 that died in 2021 were killed by guns. 
  • Gun violence continued to have a disproportionate impact on people of color. In 2021, Black Americans were 13 times more likely to be killed in a gun homicide than white Americans. 


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