The Violence Policy Center and One Aim Illinois Release New Study Detailing Gun Violence in Illinois

For Release: Thursday, December 14, 2023

Guns claimed nearly 2,000 Illinois lives in homicides, suicides, and unintentional deaths, according to latest data

Washington, DC — Guns claimed the lives of nearly 2,000 Illinois residents in 2021 according to Gun Death in Illinois, a new joint report by One Aim Illinois, the state’s leading gun violence prevention organization, and the Violence Policy Center (VPC), a national research and advocacy organization working to stop gun death and injury.

The 18-page study analyzes the most recent data available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on lethal gun violence in the state and compares Illinois firearm death data to other Great Lakes states. The report also offers firearms trace information on guns used in crime in Illinois from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Throughout the study are quotes from Illinois residents impacted by gun violence who are members of the One Aim’s Survivors Council.

“This new report underscores the devastating impact firearms have on our communities in Illinois, particularly in instances of homicide,” said Yolanda Androzzo, Executive Director of One Aim Illinois. “The findings present a stark reality that necessitates urgent and collective action to address the complex facets of gun violence in our state, from the alarming racial disparities to the increasing rates of firearm suicides and homicides. This report must serve as a catalyst for change as we work towards a future where every life is valued and protected from the impact of gun violence.”

“Comprehensive, reliable data is essential to the development of effective public policy, and it is our hope that this new annual report will aid the work of One Aim Illinois as well as the advocates, organizations, and policymakers working to make Illinois a safer state for all,” said Josh Sugarmann, Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center.

Key Findings:

  • In 2021, guns claimed the lives of 1,995 Illinois residents in firearm homicides (1,292), firearm suicides (656) and unintentional deaths (15).
  • Firearms were used in 87 percent of all homicides in Illinois (1,292 of 1,487). Of the 1,292 firearm homicides, 79% of the victims were Black, 20% were white, and 13% were of Hispanic ethnicity. The vast majority of victims were male–88% percent of all firearm homicide victims.
  • Firearms were used in 45% of all suicides in Illinois in 2021 (656 of 1,454). The majority of suicide victims (78%) were male, as were the majority of firearm suicide victims (88%). For males, the majority of suicide victims utilized a firearm. The percentage of suicides attributable to firearms increased from 39% to 45% from 2017 to 2021.
  • Since 2014, gun deaths have outpaced motor vehicle deaths across the state, a shocking fact taking into account a person’s daily exposure to motor vehicles as opposed to firearms.
  • Illinois had the highest overall homicide and firearm homicide rates for all ages as well as victims age 24 and younger compared to other Great Lakes states (Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin).
  • Of the 19,706 firearms recovered in Illinois in 2022 and traced by ATF, almost all were handguns — 82% were pistols and 6% were revolvers.

The report also cites One Aim policy successes in 2023, including passage of the Firearms Industry Responsibility Act (FIRA), which bans gun marketing that targets youth or would promote illegal paramilitary activity, and the Protect Illinois Communities Act, which bans assault weapons in the state.


The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on X/Twitter and Facebook.

One Aim Illinois is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to end gun violence in Illinois by educating, advocating, and organizing to translate public opinion into effective public policy. Integral to our work, One Aim leads the state’s largest grassroots coalition working to protect Illinois families from firearm violence. We also work alongside our independent partner organizations, Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC) and Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee (GVPAction) to achieve our shared goals. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Georgia Seltzer
(202) 822-8200 x104