Center for American Progress

Early 2024 Data Show Promising Signs of Another Historic Decline in Gun Violence

Early 2024 Data Show Promising Signs of Another Historic Decline in Gun Violence

U.S. gun homicides are declining dramatically, down 13.1 percent since 2023 and 16.4 percent since 2021.

People in silhouette holding hands
Students and their family members join hands outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 18, 2018, in Parkland, Florida, days after a shooting at the school. (Getty/Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress released an analysis of 2023 gun violence data showing a historic overall single-year decline in gun homicides across the country. This decline was precipitated, however, by a record surge in gun violence at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which gun murders increased by 45 percent between 2019 and 2021. Consequently, even with the historic decline in the U.S. murder and gun homicide rates in 2023, gun violence was still elevated last year nationally compared with pre-pandemic levels. Furthermore, while a majority of U.S. states and major cities experienced fewer gun homicides in 2023 than in 2022, the CAP analysis showed, on average, that gun homicides fell much faster in states with the strongest gun laws, while states with the weakest gun laws saw marginal improvements to public safety, if any.

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Now four years removed from March 2020 and with major public safety investments, such as the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, driving resources into communities most affected by the surge of gun violence, there is reason to be hopeful that the nation can not only return to pre-pandemic levels of gun violence but also sustain this progress and make communities safer than they were in 2019.

As of April 30, 2024, there are more positive signs that gun violence is continuing to trend downward at a historic rate. According to a new CAP analysis of Gun Violence Archive (GVA) data, gun homicides are down by 13.1 percent nationally in 2024 compared with the same time in 2023. It is still early, and historically, spikes in violent crime and gun violence typically occur in the warmer months. However, a snapshot of preliminary data of a large sample through the first four months of 2024 can still be quite predictive of the final single-year trend, as crime analyst Jeff Asher demonstrates. If the early 2024 data are indeed indicative of what to expect by the year’s end, this drop in gun violence would constitute another historic single-year decline and more than 2,000 fewer gun homicides than in 2023. As public safety continues to be a top concern for many Americans, policymakers should look to the strategies already working to drive down gun violence and make communities safer.

Findings summary

The CAP analysis of GVA data found that:

  • Gun homicides are down by 13.1 percent, and gun violence victimizations are down by 12.5 percent, in 2024 year to date (YTD) compared with 2023 YTD.
  • Compared with 2021, which recorded the highest annual rate of gun violence since the early 1990s, YTD gun homicides in 2024 are down by 16.4 percent. Overall, however, gun homicide rates are still 16 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels.
  • Mass shootings are down 29.3 percent in 2024 YTD compared with 2023 YTD.
  • Gun violence is down in most large U.S. cities: 70 of the 100 most populous U.S. cities and 37 of the 50 most populous U.S. cities have experienced the same number of or fewer gun violence victimizations in 2024 YTD compared with 2023 YTD.
  • Led by Baltimore, 14 of the 50 most populous U.S. cities have fewer gun violence victimizations in 2024 YTD than in 2019 YTD.

Note on the data

To study gun violence trends, the Center for American Progress analyzes 2019, 2021, 2023, and 2024 GVA data from January 1 to April 30 (also referred to as “year to date”). For this analysis, the author examined two primary metrics to measure gun violence levels: gun homicides and gun violence victimizations.

The GVA does not characterize gun violence incidents that result in death as either murders or homicides, as both terms carry specific legal definitions that can take months or years to determine through the criminal legal system. To analyze levels of interpersonal violence using GVA data, therefore, the author filtered incidents to exclude suicides and accidental shootings and include only what can be interpreted as intentional homicides. For readability, the CAP analysis shortens “intentional homicides” to “gun homicides.”

Gun homicides are often used as the primary indicator of measuring violent crime trends because data on them are widely considered to be the most reliably collected data. While injuries from other violent crimes or gun violence can be inconsistently reported to authorities, homicides are almost always reported will be—and therefore, they are more likely to be captured in the GVA dataset. However, homicide counts do not capture everything about the prevalence or frequency of gun violence incidents in a given community through different time periods. The type of weapon or ammunition used; the type of assault, including whether it was a targeted attack, domestic violence incident, or drive-by shooting; and the aim of the shooter can all play a role. Similarly, the distance one must travel to access a trauma center can mean the difference between an injury and a fatal shooting. For all these reasons, the author also analyzes gun violence victimizations, defined as all counts of firearm-related injuries and deaths, to provide a more complete picture of gun violence levels year to year.

National data suggest another historic decline in gun violence

As of April 30, 2024, gun homicides are down by 13.1 percent in 2024 compared with this same time in 2023 and down 16.4 percent year to date compared with this same time in 2021, when gun violence peaked during the pandemic. Looking at the national 12-month rolling-average gun homicide trends, it also is evident that since the beginning of 2022, gun homicides have been steadily declining nationally with no signs of slowing. Yet unfortunately, even with the significant decline in gun violence since 2021, YTD gun homicide rates are still above pre-pandemic levels. As of April 30, the GVA had records of 5,043 total gun homicides in 2024 to date. At this same time in 2019, there were 4,333 total gun homicides.

Expanding the dataset to include all gun victimizations, similarly, makes clear that victimizations are down 12.5 percent in 2024 compared with this same time of year in 2023. And there is evidence that the majority of categories and types of gun violence are trending down across the country. As of April 30, for example, the total number of mass shootings—defined as a gun violence incident in which four or more victims are injured or killed—across the country is down 28.9 percent in 2024 compared with this same time in 2023. Gun violence victimizations are also down across every age group in 2024 compared with this time last year. Victimizations among children ages 0 to 11 are down 20.7 percent, teens ages 12 to 17 have 19.2 percent fewer victimizations, and adults ages 18 and up have 13.5 percent fewer victimizations. One outlier to this overall trend, however, is domestic violence incidents involving a gun, which have gone up by 9 percent across the country YTD, according to GVA data.

Most major U.S. cities are experiencing lower rates of gun violence

The January 2024 CAP analysis of 2023 gun violence data showed that gun violence was going down across the country. YTD data from 2024 points to this trend continuing: Gun violence is once again down in the majority of large U.S. cities. As of April 30, 70 of the most populous 100 U.S. cities and 37 of the 50 most populous U.S. cities experienced the same or fewer gun violence victimizations in 2024 compared with 2023. Philadelphia has seen the most significant decline in population-adjusted gun violence victimizations YTD of the 50 most populous U.S. cities. As of the end of April 2024, Philadelphia experienced almost 16 fewer gun victimizations per 100,000 residents. Philadelphia is joined by Detroit; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; and Milwaukee to lead the way in improving its population-adjusted gun violence victimization rate: Each city has experienced at least 10 fewer victimizations per 100,000 residents YTD.

Notably, not only are most major U.S. cities experiencing fewer gun violence victimizations in 2024 compared with 2023, but some have lower levels of gun violence victimization this year than before the pandemic. Fourteen of the 50 most populous U.S. cities have fewer gun violence victimizations in 2024 YTD than 2019 YTD. Of those 14 cities, Baltimore has seen the most significant improvement in its population-adjusted gun violence victimization rate, experiencing more than 16 fewer victimizations in 2024 compared with 2023 YTD.

Only 13 of the 50 most populous U.S. cities are experiencing an increase in their gun violence victimization rates YTD. However, the rates of many of the cities in this group have only increased by a few victimizations year to year, and no city is experiencing a double-digit increase in its population-adjusted gun victimization rate.

Major local and federal investments to reduce gun violence

The work to turn the tide against gun violence has been ongoing. Cities that are seeing the greatest public safety gains—such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston, which all have lower YTD rates of gun victimizations in 2024 compared with this same time in 2019—have committed to gun violence reduction strategies coordinated by their local offices of violence prevention and made significant investments in more holistic and long-term approaches to improving public safety.


In Baltimore, Mayor Brandon Scott (D) launched the Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS) in 2022, emphasizing community engagement and support and a stronger commitment to more effective law enforcement approaches. This strategy includes expanding the Behavioral Health System Baltimore alternative responder system, which when responding to mental health and behavioral health crises, sends community responders who are better equipped than traditional law enforcement officers. A study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Crime and Justice Policy Lab found that the GVRS strategy was associated with a 25 percent drop in shootings in Baltimore’s Western District over a year-and-a-half period beginning in 2022.


In 2022, Philadelphia took an innovative approach to ensuring that its public safety solutions are tailored to the communities most affected by gun violence. To better understand the underlying factors contributing to community violence, Philadelphia formed an interagency task force to analyze local gun violence data and review evidence-based practices that the city can implement. From this analysis, the task force made recommendations that focus on supporting vulnerable individuals in the community, investing in community violence intervention (CVI) models, and improving data tracking and reporting on gun violence to bolster case resolution.


Boston has found success driving down shootings by investing in accountability policies and individualized community support, such as investing in a robust summer youth employment program, which has also been associated with a 35 percent reduction in violent crime. These strategies work in conjunction with some of the strongest gun laws in the country, which are consistently associated with lower rates of gun homicides. Just this year, the Massachusetts Legislature doubled down on its commitment to strong gun laws, passing the SAFER Act to bring more oversight over ghost guns, prohibit assault weapons, and make illegal the conversion of semi-automatic firearms to fully automatic firearms, among other provisions to make communities safer from gun violence.


Milwaukee is addressing community violence by building violence prevention infrastructure in close partnership with community partners. In 2017, Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention launched its community-driven prevention framework, “Blueprint for Peace,” to mitigate and prevent future community violence by fostering resilience among individuals facing “Adverse Community Experiences.” In response to a 73 percent increase in homicides and nonfatal shootings in 2020 compared with 2019, Milwaukee launched a Violence Response – Public Health and Safety Team to coordinate an enhanced response to violence and support the implementation of the blueprint.

These cities are not alone. More local and state leaders are adopting a progressive public safety framework that improves accountability for the people and systems that cause harm alongside investment into infrastructure and services that prevent crime altogether. There are now more than 40 offices of violence prevention across the country at local and state levels that identify critical safety challenges and build locally tailored, community-centered policies that create thriving neighborhoods.

Importantly, however, this work is not done in a vacuum, nor does it promise system-level change overnight. The success of these strategies hinges on continued investments and support at all levels. Major federal investments, including the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, have been leveraged to help states and more than 300 communities support their public safety agendas—including investing in community responder programs. In 2022, the Biden administration signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA)—the first major national gun violence reduction legislation to pass Congress in almost 30 years—which took a significant step forward to ensure this work can be done sustainably, along with building a complementary infrastructure for law enforcement agencies to hold bad actors accountable. In addition to making gun trafficking a federal offense, expanding the background check system for gun purchasing, and investing in a pipeline of mental health professionals to serve students and communities, the BSCA invested an additional $250 million directly into CVI programs through the Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative (CVIPI), the largest such federal investment in CVI programs ever.


Although it is still too early to make yearlong conclusions about 2024, taken together with trend data going back to 2022, all signs point to the United States turning a corner in the fight against gun violence. In the case that these early results are predictive of another historic year-to-year decline in gun violence, this also strongly suggests that the violence the country experienced at the onset of the pandemic was transitory and not a new normal in major U.S. cities. However, the work is not done. Pre-pandemic levels of violence were unacceptably high, as any life lost to gun violence is one too many. For all American families, and especially those in neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of gun violence, the nation’s solutions and commitments to safety cannot stop at “good enough.” To continue to drive gun violence down and keep it that way, America must approach public safety and the gun violence epidemic with an even greater level of urgency going forward as it has in the past four years.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Chandler Hall

Senior Policy Analyst


Gun Violence Prevention

Our goal is to reduce gun violence by enacting strong gun laws, increasing investment in local solutions, and growing the movement dedicated to this mission.

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