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US gun injury rates in 2023 top pre-pandemic levels

U.S. gun injury rates in 2023 topped pre-pandemic levels

For the fourth year in a row, rates of gun injuries stayed above levels seen before the pandemic, a new government report shows.

Race played a key role in who saw those higher rates of gun violence in 2023, the researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted.

"Annual rates among Black and Hispanic persons remained elevated through 2023; by 2023 rates in other racial and returned to pre-pandemic levels," the study authors reported Thursday in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Socioeconomics also mattered.

"The most substantial rate increases occurred in more and counties with greater income inequality, higher unemployment, and those with more severe housing problems," the researchers noted in the report.

The data on gun injuries, which was collected from ambulance calls in 27 states through September 2023, looked to shed more light on the gun injuries that do not result in deaths or hospitalizations.

After linking the ambulance data to county-level demographics data, the researchers found rates of injuries "were consistently highest" in counties with severe housing issues, which also saw the biggest increases compared with 2019.

By income, rates were also highest in counties with the most income inequality and higher unemployment rates, the report found.

"The unequal distribution of high rates and increases in firearm injury EMS encounters highlight the need for states and communities to develop and implement comprehensive firearm injury prevention strategies," wrote the researchers led by Dr. Adam Rowh.

Which group saw the greatest jump in gun rates?

When measured against rates before the pandemic, the subgroup "with the largest persistent elevation in 2023" were children and adolescents up to the age of 14, the researchers said.

Around 235 of every 100,000 emergency medical service "encounters" in children up to 14 were for firearm injuries in 2023, which ranged from by others to accidental self-inflicted injuries. That is more than 1.5 times higher than it was in 2019, where 148.5 out of every 100,000 ambulance calls for children were for gun injuries.

Still, when measured relative to other groups, the study authors found the worst actual rates were in teens and young adults, ages 15 to 24. Rates in this group were also the worst in 2019, before the pandemic.

Out of every 100,000 ambulance calls in teens and , 1,045 of them were for firearm injuries in 2023, the report found.

More information: Adam Rowh et al, Emergency Medical Services Encounters for Firearm Injuries — 858 Counties, United States, January 2019–September 2023, MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2024). DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7324a3

The American Public Health Association has more on gun violence.

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Citation: US gun injury rates in 2023 top pre-pandemic levels (2024, June 21) retrieved 24 July 2024 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2024-06-gun-injury-pre-pandemic.html
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