In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded its highest number of gun-related deaths ever.

A 2022 report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions studied that CDC data from 2020. It revealed some surprising and concerning realities about gun violence in the U.S. For one thing, it’s increasing far more than anticipated.

Clearly, gun violence is not a problem of bad people or rough neighborhoods. Guns are everywhere, and the violence associated with them is a public health issue — one that the Center for Gun Violence Solutions is taking on in some important and encouraging ways.

The Center for Gun Violence Solutions was founded at the Bloomberg School in 1995. The Center uses research to develop solutions and advise lawmakers on policies to effectively addresses gun violence.

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If you or a family member has been impacted by gun violence and you feel it is affecting the mental health and well-being of you or your loved one, we encourage you to take advantage of our mental health resources.

A Year in Review: 2020 Gun Deaths in the U.S.

Consider these alarming statistics from the Center’s report:

  • Gun violence was a leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, totaling more than 45,000 people, the highest number ever recorded.
  • Guns were the leading cause of death among children and teens in 2020, accounting for more deaths than COVID-19, car crashes or cancers.
  • Young people under 30 years of age were nearly 10 times more likely to die by firearm than from COVID-19 in 2020.
  • Gun homicides rose by 35 percent in just one year — adding nearly 5,000 more lives lost to gun homicide in 2020 over 2019.
  • Black males ages 15 to 34 were over 20 times more likely to be a victim of gun homicide than white males in the same age group.
  • There were over 24,000 gun suicides in 2020 — the second highest number in three decades — representing an increase of 11 percent over 2019.
  • 2020 shattered U.S. gun sales records, with nearly 22 million guns sold, compared with about 13.5 million sold in 2019.
  • In 2020, 79 percent of all homicides were by firearm, the highest proportion of homicides by firearm in history.
  • More than half of all Black teens ages 15 to 19 who died in 2020 — 52 percent — were killed by gun violence.
  • Firearms were the leading cause of death for children and teens ages 1 through 19.
  • The number of Black females who died by gun homicide in 2020 increased by 49 percent compared to 2019.
  • In 2020, 1 out of every 1,000 young Black males ages 15 to 34 was shot and killed, accounting for 38% of all gun homicide deaths, even though they only represent 2 percent of the total U.S. population.

It is very important to keep in mind that each of these data points mentioned is a person whose life was lost to gun violence and whose families, friends and communities have been impacted. The above statistics can only reveal in part the depth of the burden of gun violence, a completely preventable public health risk that affects Americans from all walks of life. By measuring the scope of the crisis and informing ourselves about its impact on individuals and communities, we can better determine solutions that work to decrease gun violence and ultimately eliminate gun violence as a public health threat.
Read the full report