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July 31, 2018

Firearm-related homicides grew by 31% from 2014 to 2016, CDC finds

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    The number of homicides by firearm in the United States rose by 31% from 2014 to 2016, according to CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Friday.

    Report details

    For the report, CDC researchers looked at data on the three most-common methods of homicide in the United States:

    • Firearm-related homicides;
    • Homicides resulting from cutting and piercing; and
    • Homicides resulting from suffocation.

    The report stated that "the three most common methods of homicide are based on numbers of deaths and are identified with International Classification of Disease, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes X93–X95, U01.4 (firearms), X99 (cutting/piercing), and X91 (suffocation)."


    According to the report, "use of firearms was the most common method [of homicide] in the United States [in 2016], followed by the use of instruments for cutting and piercing and then suffocation." Firearm-related homicides accounted for almost 70.5% of all homicides that occurred from 2014 to 2016, CNN reports.

    The report stated that the number of firearm-related homicides in the United States was relatively stable from 2010 to 2014, but that number increased from 11,008 in 2014 to 14,415 in 2016. In comparison, the number of homicides in 2016 resulting from cutting and piercing was 1,781, and the number of homicides in 2016 resulting from suffocation was 502. Those numbers have remained relatively stabled from 2010 to 2016, according to the report.

    Reasons for the increase

    According to The Hill, the report did not offer an explanation for why the rate of firearm-related homicides spiked between 2014 and 2016.

    However, Daniel Webster, a professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who was not involved in the CDC report, said the increase might be related to growing violence in a few U.S. cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, and St. Louis. Webster said each of those cities has seen "fairly notable and large increases in homicides over the period in question," while "other places have been more flat."

    Webster also noted that the number of civilians who carry guns also might have increased. "We now have 12 states for which you can carry a loaded concealed gun with you or in your vehicle," he said, adding, "The available data suggests that as we make it easier and easier for more and more civilians to carry guns wherever they want, we end up with more homicides and other firearm-related crimes."

    But Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, said the CDC report shows just "part of the story," noting that past research sponsored by CDC found that "guns are used in self-defense anywhere from 500,000 to three million times a year," meaning "that compared to the CDC figures for 'firearm homicides' in 2016, guns are being used 35 to 208 times more often to save [lives]." As such, he said CDC's new figures are comparable to "only focusing on deaths resulting from doctor's negligence—which are around 250,000 per year—and ignoring the overwhelming amount of good that physicians do" (Hellmann, The Hill, 7/27; CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 7/27; Scutti, CNN, 7/26; Fox, NBC News, 7/27).

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