With Gun Deaths Rising in Colorado, a Debate Unfolds over Public Health

In the 15 years between 2000 and 2014, 8,204 people in Colorado have been killed by guns, according to a Rocky Mountain PBS News analysis of state health department records. About 77 percent were suicides and 19 percent homicides.

Between 2012 and 2014, guns deaths rose in the state and for the first time exceeded 600 each year. The peak was 2012 with 672 deaths. As a result deaths have risen to an average of more than 12 a week. Much of the increase can be attributed to a rise in gun suicides – about 80 percent of the total. Homicides dropped to about 17 percent of gun deaths. In fact, Coloradans murdered by guns reached a peak of 131 in 2004 compared to 101 last year.

El Paso County continues to lead the state in gun deaths, surpassing Denver’s total starting in 2007. During the last three years, the county has averaged about 100 gun deaths each year. The three-year total between 2012 and 2014 was 305, accounting for almost one of every six gun deaths in the state.

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