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Gun Deaths Reach 40-Year High in the United States

The numbers show that gun suicide and homicide rates are reaching record highs for men.


New data from the CDC shows that gun deaths reached a record high in America in 2017, with nearly 40,000 people dying at the hands of gun violence last year, the most in four decades. And a deeper look at the numbers show that an overwhelming majority of the victims are men, as adult males are killing themselves and being killed by guns far more frequently than females.

According to CNN, of the 39,773 firearm deaths last year, 23,854 of those were via suicide, the highest number in at least 18 years. And the suicide rate is mostly rising because of men, specifically white men. The age-adjusted rate of suicide deaths by firearm for white men was 14 per 100,000, significantly higher than other demographics, including black men (6.1 suicide deaths per 100,000) or white women (2.2 deaths per 100,000). In total, white men made up 23,927 of the total gun deaths in 2017, by far the highest of any demographic.

Black men did have the highest age-adjusted rate of homicide deaths by firearm, with 33 per 100,000, followed by 3.5 per 100,000 for white men and black women. According to the CDC’s data, the age-adjusted rate of firearm deaths in legal interventions or war was highest among American Indian or Alaska Native men, at 1.1 per 100,000.

The numbers paint an extremely grim picture for men in America, as they are being killed and killing themselves at record numbers, even as gun sales in the United States have seen a steady decline, including reaching a nearly 40-year low in 2016. Despite the drop in gun sales, many point to these gun death statistics as evidence that further gun control is needed in the United States.

“Gun violence has been part of our day-to-day lives for far too long. It is way past time that elected leaders at every level of government work together to make gun violence rare and abnormal,” said Adelyn Allchin, director of public health research at the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, in a released statement.