CDC: Black Americans faced quadruple the risk of gun violence death in 2020

Gun homicides rose 35% in 2020 and CDC researchers are suggesting methods for changing systems that perpetuate these racial disparities.

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Black Americans, particularly young Black men, were shown to have had the highest rates of gun deaths among the U.S. population from 2019 to 2020, as overall rates rose 35% to the highest mark in nearly 30 years.

In a newly-released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, published on Tuesday, African Americans were shown to have faced at least quadruple the risk of death by firearm as the population as a whole during that time frame, and at least 12 times that of white Americans.

A podium with the logo for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the Tom Harkin Global Communications Center on October 5, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Raw data shows that the gun homicide rate per 100,000 Black U.S. residents in 2020 was 26.6, up 39.5% from 2019 numbers. Comparatively, 2.2 white U.S. residents per 100,000 died due to gun violence, the study showed.

Black Americans comprised 62% of the 19,350 firearm homicide victims in 2020, with white Americans accounting for 21%, per the study.

The study cites race, ethnicity and poverty among the biggest factors that have a strong correlation to higher risk of death by gun violence, adding that these existing socioeconomic factors may have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Longstanding systemic inequities and structural racism have resulted in limited economic, housing, and educational opportunities associated with inequities in risk for violence and other health conditions among various racial and ethnic groups,” authors of the report wrote.

The study’s authors also suggest various wraparound strategies for addressing the worsening crisis by focusing on the “economic, physical and social” inequities driving the disproportionate rates in Black communities.

Isolating the factor of “economic and household stability,” researchers suggest implementing policies providing “temporary assistance to families, child care subsidies, tax credits, housing assistance, and livable wages,” ultimately reducing family poverty, substance abuse and other risk factors for gun violence deaths.

“Hospital-based programs that intervene with victims of violence can have lasting effects on risk for revictimization and perpetration, and those that intervene with patients at risk for suicide can prevent reattempts,” authors of the study added. 

Researchers additionally suggested trauma-focused therapy and violence-prevention programs that provide “coping and problem-solving skills, enhance norms against intimate partner and other violence, prevent substance use and suicide attempts, encourage help-seeking, or provide mentoring and employment opportunities.”

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