Firearm Deaths Make Up 1% of All Deaths But Grew Faster Than the Population Since 2014

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Firearm suicides have been steadily increasing since 2006 and are the largest contributor to firearm deaths. In 2017, suicides due to firearms reached 23,854, a 47.8% increase since 1981 which is slightly outpacing population growth. Although firearm homicides fell between 1993 and 1999 and remained relatively flat until 2014, they have begun to increase, from 11,008 in 2014 to 14,542 in 2017, outpacing population growth in that period (Fig. 96). After the number of individuals murdered with a firearm peaked in 1993 at 18,523, the US passed a series of national and state laws to crack down on the sale and possession of firearms, including the 1994 assault weapons ban.

Firearm deaths have and continue to occur more commonly amongst Blacks (Fig. 99). In 2017, Blacks were twice as likely to die as a result of a firearm relative to Whites, at 24 deaths per 100,000 people to 12, respectively. This disparity has been growing since 2014 when Blacks had 18 firearm deaths per 100,000 people compared to Whites having 11. Legal intervention firearm deaths, which include police officer-involved shootings, doubled between 1981 and 2017. However, these deaths only account for a small percentage of the overall firearms deaths at 272 in 1981 and 553 in 2017 (Fig. 97).