Homicides surged in the U.S. by nearly 30% in 2020, the largest annual increase since record keeping began. The same year, U.S. firearm sales hit an all-time high of nearly 23 million, increasing 24% from 2019, according to consulting firm Small Arms Analytics.
The increase in gun sales at the same time that murders spiked may be more than mere coincidence. Based on local police department data compiled by the FBI, an estimated 77% of murders were committed with a firearm in 2020. Firearm homicide numbers vary considerably by state, however.
In New Jersey, a total of 329 murders committed in 2020 had a weapon associated it. Of those murders with a known weapon type, 69.6% involved a firearm, the 27th most of the 45 states with available data.
Nationwide, handguns are by far the most commonly used firearm type in murder cases, and in New Jersey, handguns were used in 156 of the 229 murder cases involving firearms.
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, the overall murder rate in New Jersey stands at 3.7 for every 100,000 people, compared to the national homicide rate of 6.5 per 100,000.
RankStateShare of homicides involving a gun, 2020 (%)Total murders involving a gun, 2020Total murders involving a handgun, 20201Delaware89.266322Illinois86.78967623Wyoming85.712104Tennessee85.45662345Louisiana85.15932426South Carolina84.54532407Kentucky84.52611558Missouri82.94702659Maryland81.640035410Virginia80.742321211Michigan79.259523712Indiana78.536624613North Carolina78.258032514Texas77.4149175115Ohio76.860026916Arkansas76.323510417Iowa75.7843318Minnesota75.11427919Rhode Island75.024420Wisconsin74.92278521Massachusetts73.11176422California72.91606103223Utah72.8674324Kansas70.8633125Oregon70.5864326Connecticut70.0982327New Jersey69.622915628Colorado68.920214129Arizona68.729221930Maine68.2151031West Virginia67.6693832Oklahoma67.519714033Nebraska66.1413134New York64.751741535Vermont64.39636Idaho64.1251837New Mexico63.3882938Nevada62.21077739Washington59.417710240New Hampshire50.06341Montana49.1281642Alaska45.8221643North Dakota45.214544Hawaii41.016545South Dakota40.82013