The U.S. firearm-related death rate increased for the second consecutive year from 11 deaths per 100,000 in 2015 to 12 deaths per 100,000 in 2016, according to preliminary CDC data released Friday.
The report provides provisional estimates based on complete death records received and processed as of Sept. 17 by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, said CDC will release final data for firearm-related deaths in 2016 during the first week of December.
Overall, CDC identified more than 38,000 firearm-related deaths in 2016—up from about 36,000 in 2015. CDC estimated, on average, more than 33,000 U.S. residents die annually from firearm-related injuries.
CDC researchers said the increase in firearm-related deaths in 2016 comes after several years of relative stability. CDC said the U.S. firearm-related death rate has hovered around 10 per 100,000 since about the late 1990s, when the rate dropped from a high of 15 deaths per 100,000 in the early 1990s.
The researchers found that, in 2016:
- Suicide accounted for nearly 60 percent of firearm-related deaths;
- Homicide accounted for nearly 36 percent of firearm-related deaths; and
- Unintentional and law enforcement-related firearm deaths accounted for nearly 1.3 percent of such deaths.
According to the report, the causes of the remaining firearm-related deaths were undetermined.
Anderson said the data also showed that firearm-related deaths were seasonal, with higher rates in the middle of the year, and homicide rates rising in the summer.
The researchers found the rate of firearm-related deaths during the first three months of 2017 were in line with rates from the same quarter of 2016. However, industry experts said it is too early to tell what the rate could be this year.
Anderson said, "The fact that we are seeing increases in the firearm-related deaths after a long period where it has been stable is concerning."
Garen Wintemute, director of the violence prevention research program at the University of California-Davis, said the report shows that the United States is approaching 20 years since there has been a significant decrease in firearm deaths (AP/Los Angeles Times, 11/3; Hauser, New York Times, 11/4; Politi, Slate, 11/4).
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