DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH NEWS
The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announced today that 481 New Mexico residents died in 2020 from firearm-related injuries. This compares to 472 individuals who died by firearm injuries in 2019.The age-adjusted rate of firearm-related injury deaths in New Mexico in 2020 was 23.1 per 100,000 residents. This means that in 2020, for every 100,000 people in New Mexico, 23 individuals died by firearm. This rate is 3.4% higher than the age-adjusted firearm-related death rate of 22.3 deaths per 100,000 residents reported in 2019. However, compared to a decade ago, this rate is drastically higher. The 2020 rate is 55% higher than the rate from 2010 (14.9 deaths per 100,000 people).
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also reported that New Mexico’s rate of firearm-related deaths across all ages, including children, placed the state fourth in the nation in 2019, the latest year for which a ranking is available. The CDC acknowledges all forms of violence, including gun violence, as a public health problem and provides guidance on violence prevention broadly. The CDC Division of Violence Prevention website concludes that the significant consequences of experiencing violence “jeopardize the health and well-being of families and communities and cost society hundreds of billions of dollars in medical care and lost productivity. Decades of research have proven that violence is preventable.” https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/publichealthissue/strategicvision.html.
“We know that firearms are responsible for the majority of both homicides and suicides in the state, and we are committed to finding solutions which work for all New Mexicans in order to stop these preventable deaths,” stated Acting DOH Secretary David R. Scrase, M.D. In response to the state’s high rates of firearm-related injuries and deaths, New Mexico has strengthened its firearm laws in recent years. In 2019, Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law a bill requiring a background check during the sale of a firearm. In 2020, the Governor also signed into law the Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act (Senate Bill 5) which provides for the issuance of court orders for the relinquishment of firearms for a designated period when there is an indication of significant risk of violence or harm to self or others.
DOH is working with the CDC to improve firearm injury reporting and to better disseminate surveillance findings to prevent or respond to firearm injuries. DOH is also working with partners and community health councils to distribute gun locks and provide education about the importance of securing stored firearms when they are not in use. In addition, DOH is working to reduce firearm-related deaths through its suicide prevention program, as guns are the most common means for suicide in NM (58% of suicides in 2020).
The NMDOH recommends that gun owners take the following four simple steps to reduce firearm-related injuries:
1. Always treat a firearm as a loaded weapon; point the firearm’s muzzle away from yourself and others.
2. Store firearms unloaded and secure them with effective, child-resistant gun locks in a locked container out of the reach and sight of children.
3. Store bullets in a locked place that is separate from where firearms are secured.
4. Reduce firearm access to youth and individuals who are at risk of harming themselves or others.
Additional resources and tips on firearm safety are available at:
New Mexicans to Prevent Firearm Violence: https://www.newmexicanstopreventfirearmviolence.org/
Safe Kids International: https://www.safekids.org/tip/gun-safety-tips
If you are at risk for harming yourself and want more information on suicide prevention, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741 741.