Gun Violence in America

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April 4, 2019

Every day, more than 100 Americans are killed with guns and 200 more are shot and wounded. The effects of gun violence extend far beyond these casualties—gun violence shapes the lives of millions of Americans who witness it, know someone who was shot, or live in fear of the next shooting.

In order to illustrate the magnitude of everyday gun violence, Everytown has gathered the most comprehensive, publicly available data. Still, significant data gaps remain—a result of underfunded, incomplete data collection at the state and federal level. Filling these gaps is necessary to truly understand the full impact of gun violence in the United States.

GUN DEATHS BY INTENT

 

Average Deaths per YearCenters for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. A yearly average was developed using five years of most recent available data: 2014 to 2018. While it is broadly considered to be the most comprehensive firearm fatal injury source, two of the intent categories—Shootings by Law Enforcement and Unintentional Deaths—are estimated to be greatly underreported. This underreporting is largely due to missing information on death certificates, which may result in misclassification of intent. Multiple media sources and nonprofit groups have tracked shootings by law enforcement, but no reliable public database captures unintentional shootings. Intent category averages may not total to yearly average due to rounding.
Total 37,603

Pie chart representing gun deaths by intent and the average deaths per year. This includes: 22,926 by suicide; 13,380 by homicide; 478 unintentional deaths; 510 shootings by law enforcement; 310 undetermined

*Note: This intent category is believed to be underreported and is likely being misclassified as homicide.Loftin C, Wiersema B, McDowall D, Dobrin A. Underreporting of justifiable homicides committed by police officers in the United States, 1976-1998. American Journal of Public Health. 2003; 93(7): 1117-1121.See also: Barber C, Azrael D, Cohen A, Miller M, et al. Homicides by police: Comparing counts from the National Violent Death Reporting System, Vital Statistics, and Supplementary Homicide Reports. American Journal of Public Health. 2016; 106(5): 922-927. The Washington Post’s database is widely cited and estimates that 988 civilians are fatally shot by police in an average year—nearly twice as many as recorded by the CDC.Fatal Force. The Washington Post. Data reflects a 5 year average (2015 to 2019) of deaths attributed to police shootings. https://wapo.st/policeshootings?tid=ss_tw.

GUN SUICIDE

  • Nearly two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. A yearly average was developed using five years of most recent available data: 2014 to 2018. The U.S. gun suicide rate is 10 times that of other high-income countries.Grinshteyn E, Hemenway D. Violent death rates in the US compared to those of the other high-income countries, 2015. Preventive Medicine. 2019; 123: 20-26.
  • Access to a gun triples the risk of death by suicide.Anglemyer A, Horvath T, Rutherford G. The accessibility of firearms and risk for suicide and homicide victimization among household members: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014; 160(2): 101-110. Gun suicides are concentrated in states with high rates of gun ownership.Opoliner A, Azrael D, Barber C, Fitzmaurice G, Miller M. Explaining geographic patterns of suicide in the U.S.: The role of firearms and antidepressants. Injury Epidemiology. 2014; 1(1): 6.
  • Most people who attempt suicide do not die—unless they use a gun. Across all suicide attempts not involving a firearm, 4 percent will result in death. But for gun suicides, those statistics are flipped: Approximately 90 percent of gun suicide attempts end in death.Conner A, Azrael D, and Miller M. Suicide case-fatality rates in the United States, 2007 to 2014: A nationwide population-based study. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2019; 885–95.
  • White men represent 74 percent of firearm suicide victims in America.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. A yearly average was developed using five years of most recent available data: 2014 to 2018. White men defined as non-Hispanic white.

Access to a gun triples the risk of death by suicide

GUN HOMICIDE

  • One-third of gun deaths are homicides.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. A yearly average was developed using five years of most recent available data: 2014 to 2018. Homicide includes legal intervention. The U.S. gun homicide rate is 25 times that of other high-income countries.Grinshteyn E, Hemenway D. Violent death rates in the US compared to those of the other high-income countries, 2015. Preventive Medicine. 2019; 123: 20-26.
  • Access to a gun doubles the risk of death by homicide.Anglemyer A, Horvath T, Rutherford G. The accessibility of firearms and risk for suicide and homicide victimization among household members: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014; 160(2): 101-110.
  • Gun homicides are concentrated in cities—half of all gun homicides took place in just 127 cities, which represented nearly a quarter of the U.S. population.Aufrichtig A, Beckett L, Diehm J, Lartey J. Want to fix gun violence in America? Go local. The Guardian. January 9, 2017. https://bit.ly/2i6kaKw. Within these cities, gun homicides are most prevalent in racially segregated neighborhoods with high rates of poverty.Ibid.
  • Black Americans represent the majority of gun homicide victims.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Nonfatal Injury Reports. The CDC derives national estimates of nonfatal firearm injuries treated in hospitals from a survey of hospitals known as the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). According to the CDC, some of these estimates may be unstable. The CDC’s nonfatal injury data has come under scrutiny largely because of increasing error margins in recent years. Nonetheless, data provided by the CDC on nonfatal injuries is the most common data currently used in gun violence prevention research. To account for fluctuations between years, a yearly average was developed using five years of the most recent available data: 2014 to 2018. In fact, Black Americans are 10 times more likely than white Americans to die by gun homicide.Ibid.
Bar chart representing the gun homicide rate by high-income country (per 100,000 population): United states: 4.1; Chile: 1.9; Israel: 0.7; Canada: 0.3; Italy: 0.3; Sweden: 0.3; Belgium: 0.2; Denmark: 0.2; Finland: 0.2; Greece: 0.2; The gun homicide rate in the United States is 25 times that of other high-income countries.

CHILDREN AND TEENS

  • Firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. Data from 2018. Children and teenagers aged 1 to 19, Black defined as non-Hispanic, number of deaths by known intent (homicide, suicide, unintentional deaths). Age 0 to 1 calculated separately by the CDC because leading causes of death for newborns and infants are specific to the age group.
  • More than 1,700 children and teens die by gun homicide every year.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. A yearly average was developed using five years of most recent available data: 2014 to 2018. Analysis includes: ages 0 to 19, and homicide including legal intervention. For children under the age of 13, these gun homicides most frequently occur in the home and are often connected to domestic or family violence.Fowler KA, Dahlberg LL, Haileyesus T, Gutierrez C, Bacon S. Childhood firearm injuries in the United States. American Academy of Pediatrics. 2017; 140(1): e20163486.
  • Black children and teens are 14 times more likely than white children and teens of the same age to die by gun homicide.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. A yearly average was developed using five years of most recent available data: 2014 to 2018. Analysis includes: ages 0 to 19, non-Hispanic only and homicide including legal intervention.
Bar chart representing the leading causes of death for American children and teens. Firearms: 3,335; Motor vehicle: 3,314; Cancer: 1,790; Suffocation: 1,646; Poisoning: 947. Firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

  • Women in the U.S. are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries.Grinshteyn E, Hemenway D. Violent death rates in the US compared to those of the other high-income countries, 2015. Preventive Medicine. 2019; 123: 20-26.
  • In an average month, 53 American women are shot to death by an intimate partner,Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program Data: Supplementary Homicide Reports, 1976-2018. Kaplan, Jacob concatenated files as posted on: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2019-10-27. https://doi. org/10.3886/E100699V8. Everytown includes data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in national IPV statistics; however Florida's state-specific IPV statistics are suppressed, as FDLE only captures incidents of spousal IPV, which results in undercounting. and many more are shot and wounded.
  • Nearly one million women alive today have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner.Sorenson SB, Schut RA. Nonfatal gun use in intimate partner violence: A systematic review of the literature. Trauma, Violence & Abuse. 2016; 1524838016668589. Approximately 4.5 million American women alive today have been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner.Ibid. See also: Tjaden P, Thoennes T. Full report of the prevalence, incidence, and consequences of violence against women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. National Institute of Justice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2000.
  • Access to a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.Campbell JC, Webster D, Koziol-McLain J, et al. Risk factors for femicide in abusive relationships: Results from a multisite case control study. American Journal of Public Health. 2003; 93(7): 1089-1097.
Nearly one million women alive today have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner.

IMPACT ON AMERICANS

  • 58 percent of American adults or someone they care for have experienced gun violence in their lifetime.SurveyUSA Market Research Study. Data collected from December 7, 2018 to December 11, 2018. https://bit.ly/2ExxpyZ. See question 39.
  • Approximately three million American children witness gun violence every year.Finkelhor D, Turner HA, Shattuck A, Hamby SL. Prevalence of childhood exposure to violence, crime, and abuse: Results from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence. The Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics. 2015; 169(8): 746-754. Everytown analysis derives the 3 million number by multiplying the share of children (ages 0-17) who are exposed to shootings per year (4.2%) by the total child population of the U.S. in 2016 (~73.5M).
Pie chart representing the 58 percent of American adults who themselves, or someone they care for, have experienced gun violence in their lifetime

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This report has been updated on February 20, 2020.



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