Infographic: As COVID-19 Spread, Gun Deaths Spiked
Print Issue: July/August 2022
COVID-19 resulted in a 17 percent increase in the U.S. death rate in 2020, with the disease responsible for more than 350,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meanwhile, gun-related deaths spiked during the pandemic; the CDC reported that 45,222 people died by gun violence in the United States in 2020—the highest number ever recorded, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions’ report A Year in Review: 2020 Gun Deaths in the U.S.
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In 2020, 79 percent of all homicides were performed with a firearm, compared to 68 percent in 2011. According to the Johns Hopkins report, the United States “has a firearm homicide rate 25 times higher than other high-income countries.”
Homicides by Method in 2020:
Struck by or Against
All Other Methods Combined
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U.S. Gun Deaths in 2020
The increase in gun-related deaths coincided with multiple factors, including COVID-19, record increases in gun sales, widespread social unrest following the murder of George Floyd, and heightened political tensions, according to Johns Hopkins.
Rural and urban areas in the United States had relatively similar gun homicide rates in 2020. From 2016 to 2020, 13 out of the 20 counties with the highest rates of firearm homicides were rural. When it comes to firearm suicide though, rural counties’ rates were 2.1 times higher than the most urban counties, potentially due to rural regions’ limited access to mental health services, high rates of alcohol use, and high rates of gun ownership.