Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Significant Increase in Firearm Homicides: The overall firearm homicide rate soared by nearly 35% from 2019 to 2020, marking the highest rate since 1994. This rise was particularly pronounced among non-Hispanic Black or African American males and non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native males.
  2. Stable Overall Firearm Suicide Rates: Despite the sharp rise in firearm homicides, the overall firearm suicide rate remained relatively unchanged during the same period, although there were notable increases in some demographic groups, including American Indian/Alaska Native males.
  3. Impact of COVID-19: The coinciding timing of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increases in firearm violence highlight potential pandemic-related exacerbations in social and economic stressors that could have influenced these trends.
  4. Disparities by Race, Ethnicity, and Poverty: Disparities in firearm homicide and suicide rates by race, ethnicity, and poverty level not only persisted but widened, with higher rates observed in communities with greater poverty.
  5. Urgent Need for Comprehensive Prevention: The report underscores the critical need for comprehensive community-based violence prevention strategies that address economic, physical, and social inequities to reduce violence and its disparities.

Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author

Scott R. Kegler, PhD,

Suggested Citation

Kegler SR, Simon TR, Zwald ML, et al. Vital Signs: Changes in Firearm Homicide and Suicide Rates — United States, 2019–2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:656–663. DOI:



The MMWR article discusses substantial increases in firearm homicide rates and relatively stable firearm suicide rates in the U.S. during 2020, highlighting the persistent public health challenge posed by firearm-related violence. It emphasizes the exacerbation of these issues during the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for targeted violence prevention efforts.


This study utilized national vital statistics and population data, integrated with measures of urbanization and poverty at the county level, to examine population-based firearm homicide and suicide rates across various demographics and socio-economic conditions.


The discussion in the MMWR article points to several potential drivers of the increased firearm homicide rates, such as heightened social and economic pressures linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ongoing racial and ethnic disparities. It also discusses how firearm suicide rates, although stable overall, have risen in certain populations, underscoring complex underlying factors.


The article concludes with a call for immediate and comprehensive public health interventions to address the increasing rates of firearm violence and the widening disparities associated with them. It stresses the importance of implementing evidence-based strategies that tackle the root causes of violence and disparities.

This has been your booster shot of MMWR Info! Please check back for more MMWR, Public Health, and Programming Tutorial content daily.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>