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U.S. Gun Deaths Hit Another All-Time High, Credit Cards To Start Flagging Purchases

New provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on firearm mortality shows that deaths from gun violence and suicide continued a pandemic-increase throughout 2021, The Trace reports. At least 48,832 people died from firearms-related deaths in 2021, the highest count since the national tally began. 

Both homicides and suicides contributed equally to the increase in gun deaths in 2021. Both categories experienced record-breaking totals, and each saw an increase of almost 8 percent over the previous year, according to the data.

That yearly increase in gun homicides was substantially less than the 34.5 percent increase between 2019 and 2020, but may show that the United States is not out of the woods yet after the pandemic’s surge in gun violence and suicides. 

According to the data, people of color made up a disproportionately high percentage of the victims: Black men aged 15 to 34 made up 41 percent of the victims of firearm homicides in 2021. 

White men made up about 70 percent of firearm suicide victims throughout the year. Black people, who don’t normally have high gun suicide rates, saw a shocking increase in gun suicides of 22 percent between 2020 and 2021. Experts are concerned about the gradual increase in firearm suicides among people of color in recent years, particularly among kids and teenagers.

On the state level, rates of gun violence in 2021 varied widely. New York, which just had its concealed carry requirements relaxed by order of the Supreme Court, had one of the lowest gun death rates in the country, along with Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The states with the greatest rates of firearm fatalities were Wyoming, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Alabama.

Meanwhile, in an effort to flag unusual purchases and reduce mass shootings, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express will introduce a new merchant category for retailers of firearms, the Wall Street Journal reports. The new code is for retailers whose major business is guns sales. Gun stores were previously frequently labeled as specialty retailers or durable-goods sellers, which comprise a considerably wider range of businesses. The card networks announced that they will try to put the new code into action while promoting legal transactions and safeguarding customer privacy.

Gun-rights activists have long opposed changes like this, arguing that they might unfairly restrict the legal purchase of firearms. However, proponents of the implementation of a new MCC for gun and ammunition sellers cited recent instances of credit cards being used to purchase firearms that were then used in mass shootings. It is unclear whether or how law enforcement would be informed of information flagged through the new code. 

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