United States Sees Highest Number of Gun-Related Deaths in Nearly 30 Years, New Study Finds

Cordon tape seals off an active crime scene.
Cordon tape seals off an active crime scene.

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Gun death rates in the United States hit its highest mark in nearly three decades, according to a new study.

A study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open found that 48,953 deaths in 2021 were caused by guns, the highest number recorded since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking in 1981. The 2021 record was also a 20% increase from 2019.

Researchers also found that although gun-related deaths are more likely among men, rates have risen for women. There was a 71% increase in the number of women killed by guns compared to the 45% increase for men, and women make up about 14% of overall gun deaths.

"Women can get lost in the discussion because so many of the fatalities are men," Dr. Eric Fleegler, study author and associate professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School, told the Associated Press.

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The study also revealed that while there was a decline in gun death rates throughout the 90s, numbers steadily rose in the past decade and ultimately skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Fleegler admitted that "the magnitude of the numbers are incomprehensible," and researchers don't know why gun-related deaths rose so significantly during the pandemic.

"[It's] a straightforward question with probably a complicated answer that no one really knows the answer to," he told AP.