Nearly 12,000 Americans are murdered with guns every year — a rate more than 20 times higher than that of other developed countries. Although the violent crime rate has generally decreased over the past 15 years, the gun murder rate in the U.S. has hardly changed and the number of non-fatal shootings has actually increased. Because we haven’t enacted common sense gun policies that will save lives, we haven’t reduced gun violence in America — we’ve just gotten better at saving the lives of gunshot wound victims. It is high time to pass common sense public safety measures like comprehensive and enforceable background checks that will reduce gun crime and save lives.
There are nearly 12,000 gun murders a year in the U.S. — and that number has barely changed since the late 1990s. Between 1997 and 2013, gun homicides have not varied more than 10 percent in either direction from an annual average of 11,754.
While the number of gun murders in the U.S. has remained constant, the number of shootings has been increasing. The number of non-fatal gunshot wounds rose more than 50 percent between 2001 and 2013.
We haven’t reduced gun violence in America — we just got better at treating it. The only reason the number of gun homicides has not increased in the U.S. in the last decade is because medical interventions have improved. Gunshot wound victims are more likely to survive today than they were a decade ago. People admitted alive to the nation’s trauma centers in 2010 with a single gunshot wound were 50% less likely to die than similar patients admitted in 2003.
But we can prevent gun violence before it happens with strong laws and effective enforcement. In New York City, where background checks are required for all private gun sales and police are tough on gun offenders, the homicide rate has fallen in 10 of the last 14 years. The city has also reduced the share of murders committed with guns. In 2013, 58% of NYC homicides were committed with guns, as opposed to the national average of 70%.