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2020 Utah crime statistics are out and homicides are up 44 percent.

October 8, 2021

This week, the Utah Department of Public Safety released its annual crime statistics for 2020 showing there was 44 percent increase in the number of homicides compared to 2019. In 2020, there were 93 homicides with 67 percent by firearms. It is noted that the statistics from the Utah Department of Public Safety did not record fatal police shootings which would put the number of homicides in 2020 to 103. 

Unfortunately, gun violence hasn’t stopped in 2021. Already this year, there were 69 homicides in Utah as of the beginning of October —  putting it nearly on pace with 2020 homicides. 

In April, Everytown released a factsheet about how local officials can prevent gun violence with federal funding. To assist localities, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law in March, authorizing $130 billion in funding for local governments to counter the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local governments can utilize ARP funds to counter surges in gun violence and support gun violence intervention programs performing essential public health work. 

Research on violence intervention programs shows they reduce gun violence in communities disproportionately impacted. Many violence intervention programs have been on the front lines responding to the dual public health crises of COVID-19 and gun violence. The pandemic has exacerbated the structural circumstances in which both a virus and city gun violence thrive: racially disparate access to resources, chronic underinvestment, and entrenched poverty. 

Despite the rise in gun violence in 2020, Utah lawmakers callously shoved through legislation to roll back gun laws, including a bill to expand their current “Stand Your Ground” law, a bill to force colleges and universities to allow 18-21 year olds to carry guns on campus, and legislation to gut Utah’s life-saving permitting system including vital suicide prevention trainings during the 2021 legislative session. Both policies have been shown to increase gun violence in other states with similar policies. Lawmakers also failed to allot funding for violence intervention groups, utilize ARP funding, or pass legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. 

This session, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers are working with community partners to get more money allotted for violence intervention programs across the state and pass stronger gun safety laws that are proven to prevent gun violence. 

Every year, nearly 400 people die by guns in Utah and over 300 more are wounded. Gun violence costs Utah $2.4 billion each year, of which $47.5 million is paid by taxpayers. More information about gun violence in the state is available here.

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