Steady Rise of Firearm Homicide in United States in 1999 – 2020 : A Brief Analysis of the Data

Photo by Max Kleinen on Unsplash

We briefly analyzed data of homicide by firearm data in the United States. The data was obtained from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), specifically CDC WONDER Online Database. The purpose of this analysis is to identify insights and interesting patterns that merit further investigation.


To view the interactive dashboard in Tableau Public, please visit here.

The specific information we obtained and analyzed were:

  1. Number of deaths by homicide through the use of firearm in each state every year from 1999 to 2020.
  2. Number of deaths in (1) times 100000 and then divided by the number of population of respective state. This number is called Death Rate per 100000 which means the number of lives lost in homicide through the use of firearm in each state.

The numbers above were then plotted in time series line graphs and bar charts using Tableau Public.

Number of Deaths by State


In the Number of Deaths by State time series chart, Texas and California are in the top two position by small margin. They are both quite far above the rest of the states.

California almost always have the top position in all of the years in the data. It’s position is overtaken by Texas only in the last two years in the data (2019 and 2020).

Texas saw steady increase of the number of deaths since 2013.

Most of the states have a rising trend since 2019. At this point, California, Illinois and Texas has unusually steeper incline than the rest of the states.


The top four states with the most number of deaths by firearm homicide in the latest year in data (2020) are Texas (1734 deaths) California (1732), Florida (1227), Illinois (1167). In this year, most other states have number of deaths below 800.

Death Rate per 100000


District of Columbia have historically high number the Death Rate by State in the time series line graph. In most of the recorded year the state seems to have about the double the rate of each other states. The time series line of District of Columbia is quite peculiar. It peaked in 2002, then drops very steeply through to 2012, then it rise steeply again through to 2020.

Alaska also has a somewhat anomaly pattern. The death rate there dropped steeply from 2019 to 2020, while most others were rising.

Similar to the Number of Deaths chart, the general pattern from 2019 to 2020 is a rather steep rise.


In the latest year in data (2020), the four top states with the highest death rate per 100000 are District of Columbia with 22, Mississippi and Louisiana with 16, Alabama with 11 people. Most states in the bar chart have 0 – 11 in death rate per 100000.


Our main takeaway is that there is a generally consistent rising trend of number of deaths and death rate among all states, especially in recent years. This trend should be taken seriously by governments and societies. Also, the peculiar high pattern of death rate in District of Columbia should be further examined, especially because death rate there is very well above the rest of the states.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2020 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released in 2021. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2020, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at on Apr 6, 2022 5:29:15 AM