May 23, 2022 - News

Firearm homicides in Denver surged in 2021

Firearm homicides in Denver
Data: Denver Police Department; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Gun-related homicides in Denver last year reached their highest levels since at least 2015, according to an Axios Denver analysis of data from the Denver Police Department.

Why it matters: The findings bolster initial data showing a spike in violent crime throughout the pandemic in Denver and across the state.

By the numbers: The number of homicides caused by a firearm in 2021 more than doubled the total from 2015, with at least 82 incidents recorded by Denver police.

  • The biggest spike occurred between 2019 and 2020, with a 35% increase.
  • 2021 also saw a significant uptick compared to the year prior, at 32%.

Yes, but: The rate of some violent crimes, like murder, remains far lower in Colorado than those recorded throughout the 1980s and '90s.

The big picture: Firearm homicides have risen nationwide, Axios' Ivana Saric writes based on a CDC report published this month.

  • The firearm homicide rate in the U.S. hit its highest level since 1994 during the first year of the COVID pandemic, with significant racial and class disparities.
  • The upward trend also continued into 2021.

What they're saying: The CDC noted that firearm homicides and suicides are a "persistent and significant" public health concern in the U.S.

  • During the pandemic, "longstanding systemic inequities and structural racism have resulted in limited economic, housing, and educational opportunities associated with inequities in risk for violence and other health conditions among various racial and ethnic groups," the report stated.
  • The study's findings "underscore the importance of comprehensive strategies that can stop violence" by addressing underlying factors that contribute to homicide and suicide rates, including economic and social inequalities that drive racial disparities in health outcomes, per the report.

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