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Gun-related deaths spike in U.S. for second straight year, report says

A report released Tuesday by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions says guns killed nearly 49,000 people in 2021, a 7.6% jump over 2020 when gun deaths hit a 40-year record during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI/
A report released Tuesday by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions says guns killed nearly 49,000 people in 2021, a 7.6% jump over 2020 when gun deaths hit a 40-year record during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI/ | License Photo

June 6 (UPI) -- For the second straight year, gun violence killed more people than ever before in the United States as a new report finds firearms kill about 134 people every day -- or one person every 11 minutes.

The 45-page report released Tuesday by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions says gun-related murders and suicides killed nearly 49,000 people in 2021, a 7.6% jump and more than 3,600 deaths over 2020 when gun deaths reached a 40-year record during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"Released during Gun Violence Awareness Month, our report highlights the upward trend in gun fatalities. 2021 was the second year in a row where an all-time record of deaths was set," the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions wrote in a tweet Tuesday.

"Guns, once again, were the leading cause of death among children and teens in 2021 accounting for more deaths than COVID-19, car crashes or cancers," the report said, adding that more than half of all Black teen deaths were gun-related.

"Our country is breaking records for all the wrong reasons -- record gun sales combined with increasingly permissive gun laws are making gun violence a pervasive part of life in our country, leading to a sharp increase in gun deaths," lead author of the report Ari Davis, who is also a policy adviser at the Center for Gun Violence Solutions, said in a statement.

According to the report, the spike in gun deaths in 2020 and 2021 coincided with a surge in gun sales, as millions of first-time buyers bought weapons during the pandemic.

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"While it is too early to tell whether this surge in gun purchases contributed directly to the rise in gun violence the country is experiencing, we know that over the long run this influx of guns will only exacerbate the public health crisis of gun violence and worsen health disparities," the report said, as it called for new policies to reverse the deadly trend.

Permit-to-purchase laws would require individuals to undergo a background check before buying a gun and strong Domestic Violence Protection Order laws and Extreme Risk Protection Orders would remove firearms from anyone deemed an elevated risk.

As the report broke down the demographics of gun violence with older, white males more impacted by firearms suicide and young Black males more likely to die by gun homicide, it also broke down gun violence by geography.

The report detailed gun deaths according to state and found that those states with stronger gun laws had fewer deaths.

"The data are clear that states with stronger gun violence prevention laws have lower rates of gun violence," Cassandra Crifasi, co-author of the report and co-director of the Center for Gun Violence Solutions, said in a statement.

"Passage of evidence-based solutions would help end the needless suffering happening in all corners of our country."

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