ATLANTA (CNN/RNN) – Gun deaths in the United States reached their highest level in nearly 40 years in 2017.
A recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows nearly 40,000 people were killed by firearms last year.
That’s the highest number since at least 1979, when firearm deaths were first coded in national mortality data.
Less than 20 years ago, there were just under 29,000 gun deaths per year in the United States, an annual difference of more than 10,000 lives.
The data includes homicides, unintentional deaths, deaths in war or legal interventions and undetermined deaths.
Nearly 24,000 of the gun deaths (or about 60%) were suicides, the highest rate in 18 years.
The National Rifle Association says there’s no need more gun laws.
“The facts are clear: Gun control laws are not the answer,” the NRA tweeted. “If we want to prevent more horrific acts of violence our leaders need to stop demonizing the men and women of the @NRA and find solutions that will save lives.”
But gun legislation advocates call the rising numbers proof that the country is facing a public health epidemic.
“In 2017, nearly 109 people died every single day from gun violence. Gun violence is a public health epidemic that requires a public health solution, which is why we must immediately enact and implement evidence-based interventions – like permit-to-purchase policies and extreme risk laws,” said Adelyn Allchin with Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.
“Gun violence has been part of our day-to-day lives for far too long. It is way past time that elected leaders at every level of government work together to make gun violence rare and abnormal.”