Close to 40,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2017, which is the highest rate since 1996, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC’s Wonder health database revealed that 39,773 people died from firearm-related injuries in 2017. When adjusted for “age inflation,” the numbers show a total of 12 gun deaths per every 100,000 people, which is up from 10.1 in 2010.
The deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in U.S. history took place in October of 2017 at the Las Vegas Strip. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, fired more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and killed 58 people before shooting himself.
However, the increase in gun deaths was mainly due to suicide.
Sixty percent of gun deaths in 2017 were self-inflicted, while states with higher rates of gun ownership such as Kansas and West Virginia suffered the biggest rises in their gun suicide numbers, according to the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.
The number of gun suicides in Kansas exploded by 65 percent from 2008 to 2017, while rates in Vermont, Missouri, and West Virginia increased by almost 60 percent during the same time.
Kansas’ relatively lax gun control laws allow anyone 21 years or older to carry and conceal a firearm in public. In addition, gun shows and online retailers are not required to perform background checks on their customers.
States with tighter gun laws, including New York and California, witnessed a 1 to 8 percent decrease in their gun suicide rates from 2008 to 2017.
California’s stringent gun control laws ban the sale of shotguns and rifles to anyone under the age of 21 and prohibit people who have been hospitalized for mental health issues more than once in a year from owning a gun for life.
“We cannot effectively prevent suicide without addressing access to firearms. We know these deaths are preventable, and we have the policy tools – like extreme risk laws – to stop gun suicide. It is up to lawmakers across the country to pass and implement these life-saving policies,” the EFSGV said in a release last month.
The majority of Americans who killed themselves with a firearm in 2017 were white (91 percent) and, in particular, white males (87 percent).
According to a study released by the Jama Network, the U.S. is one of six countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala, responsible for more than half of all 250,000 gun deaths per year in the world.