The annual number of gun-related deaths in the United States increased for the second year in a row, according to a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics said 2016 saw about 12 gun deaths per 100,000 people, up from 11 per 100,000 people in 2015. The increase comes after several years of rates relatively staying at the same level.
“The fact that we are seeing increases in the firearm-related deaths after a long period where it has been stable is concerning,” Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the health statistics center, told The New York Times. “It is a pretty sharp increase for one year.”
Anderson also noted that preliminary data from the first quarter of 2017 clearly shows a continuing upward trend. However, Anderson also pointed out that gun-related deaths are “seasonal.”
“The rates generally are a little higher in the middle of the year than they are at the end of the year,” Anderson said, adding, “Homicides are more common in the summer.”
While the United States sees, on average, more than 33,000 gun-related deaths each year, not all of those are classified as homicides. In fact, about two-thirds of gun deaths are the result of suicide, which is often a controversial topic when discussing gun-related deaths. Likewise, a number of homicides are the result of an individual defending themselves or another person and are deemed justified – often another topic of controversy.
The CDC’s statistics did not single out gun-related deaths, but rather the data reflects all causes of death in the U.S. in 2016. Drug overdose saw a dramatic rise from 16.3 per 100,000 people in 2015 to 20 per 100,000 last year, while heart disease and cancer remain the top killers of American people.