As the recent mass shootings at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, show, gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States. And according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the problem is getting worse.
A total of 45,222 people were killed by a firearm in the United States in 2020, the most recent year of available data – up from about 40,000 in 2019, and a 25% increase from 2015. Only three states – Hawaii, New Jersey, and Alaska – reported a decline in deaths resulting from a firearm injury between 2015 and 2020, and in 14 states, firearm deaths rose by at least 30% over that period.
Using data from the CDC, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where gun deaths are increasing the fastest. We included only the 47 states reporting an increase, and those states are ranked by the percentage increase in the number of deaths resulting from firearm-related injuries between 2015 and 2020. We included firearm background checks, used as a proxy for gun sales.
The states with the largest spikes in gun deaths are disproportionately concentrated in the South, while the states with smallest upticks are mostly in the Northeast. The states with the largest spikes in firearm deaths also tend to have higher than average firearm death rates (deaths adjusted per capita), and many of them have also reported some of the largest increases in firearm sales in recent years. (Here is a look at America’s most dangerous states.)
While mass shootings garner the most media attention, they represent only a small share of total gun deaths in the United States. Most firearm-related deaths are suicides (54% in 2020), and the majority of the remaining fatalities are homicides not classified as mass shootings. Still, it is important to note that there has been an average of more than one mass shooting per day this year.
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