Gun Violence Statistics

Introduction to Gun Violence Statistics

Posted on Sunday, November 18th, 2012

The United States experiences epidemic levels of gun violence, claiming over 30,000 lives annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For every person who dies from a gunshot wound, two others are wounded. Every year, approximately 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence. In addition to those who are killed or injured, there are countless others whose lives are forever changed by the deaths of and injuries to their loved ones.

Gun violence touches every segment of our society. It increases the probability of deaths in incidents of domestic violence, raises the likelihood of fatalities by those who intend to injure others and among those who attempt suicide, places children and young people at special risk, and disproportionately affects communities of color.

Mass shooting tragedies like the school shootings at Virginia Tech in April 2007 and Northern Illinois University in February 2008 – or the 1993 office shooting in San Francisco that led to the formation of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence – receive significant media attention. However, gun deaths and injuries in the U.S. usually occur quietly, without national press coverage, every day.

Statistics on Gun Deaths & Injuries

Posted on Friday, November 16th, 2012

In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings.  This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths each day and more than three deaths each hour.1

73,505 Americans were treated in hospital emergency departments for non-fatal gunshot wounds in 2010.2

Firearms were the third-leading cause of injury-related deaths nationwide in 2010, following poisoning and motor vehicle accidents.3

Between 1955 and 1975, the Vietnam War killed over 58,000 American soldiers – less than the number of civilians killed with guns in the U.S. in an average two-year period.4

In the first seven years of the U.S.-Iraq War, over 4,400 American soldiers were killed. Almost as many civilians are killed with guns in the U.S., however, every seven weeks.5

Homicide

Guns were used in 11,078 homicides in the U.S. in 2010, comprising almost 35% of all gun deaths, and over 68% of all homicides.6

On average, 33 gun homicides were committed each day for the years 2005-2010.7

Regions and states with higher rates of gun ownership have significantly higher rates of homicide than states with lower rates of gun ownership.8

Where guns are prevalent, there are significantly more homicides, particularly gun homicides.9

Suicide

Firearms were used in 19,392 suicides in the U.S. in 2010, constituting almost 62% of all gun deaths.10

Over 50% of all suicides are committed with a firearm.11

On average, 49 gun suicides were committed each day for the years 2005-2010.12

White males, about 40% of the U.S. population, accounted for over 80% of firearm suicides in 2010.13

A study of California handgun purchasers found that in the first year after the purchase of a handgun, suicide was the leading cause of death among the purchasers.14

Firearms were used in nearly 44% of suicide deaths among persons under age 25 in 2010.15

More than 75% of guns used in suicide attempts and unintentional injuries of 0-19 year-olds were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend.16

The risk of suicide increases in homes where guns are kept loaded and/or unlocked.17

Unintentional Deaths and Injuries

In 2010, unintentional firearm injuries caused the deaths of 606 people.18

From 2005-2010, almost 3,800 people in the U.S. died from unintentional shootings.19

Over 1,300 victims of unintentional shootings for the period 2005–2010 were under 25 years of age.20

People of all age groups are significantly more likely to die from unintentional firearm injuries when they live in states with more guns, relative to states with fewer guns. On average, states with the highest gun levels had nine times the rate of unintentional firearms deaths compared to states with the lowest gun levels.21

A federal government study of unintentional shootings found that 8% of such shooting deaths resulted from shots fired by children under the age of six.22

The U.S. General Accounting Office has estimated that 31% of unintentional deaths caused by firearms might be prevented by the addition of two devices: a child-proof safety lock (8%) and a loading indicator (23%).23

  1. Nat’l Ctr. for Injury Prevention & Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010, for National, Regional, and States (Dec. 2012), http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/dataRestriction_inj.html (hereinafter WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010. Note: Users must agree to data use restrictions on the CDC site prior to accessing data). []
  2. Nat’l Ctr. for Injury Prevention & Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Nonfatal Injury Reports, at http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates2001.html (last visited Nov. 20, 2012) (hereinafter WISQARS Nonfatal Injury Reports). []
  3. Nat’l Ctr. for Injury Prevention and Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Leading Causes of Death Reports, 1999-2010, for National, Regional, and States (RESTRICTED), at http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/leading_causes_death.html (last visited Nov. 30, 2012). []
  4. U.S. Department of Defense, Statistical Information Analysis Division, Personnel & Military Casualty Statistics, U.S. Military Casualties in Southeast Asia: Vietnam Conflict – Casualty Summary As of May 16, 2008, at http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/vietnam.pdf (last visited Feb. 10, 2012); WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010, supra note 1. []
  5. U.S. Department of Defense, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) U.S. Casualty Status, Fatalities as of: March 12, 2012, 10 a.m. EST, at http://www.defense.gov/news/casualty.pdf (last visited Feb. 10, 2012); WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010, supra note 1. []
  6. WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010, supra note 1. []
  7. Id. []
  8. Matthew Miller, Deborah Azrael & David Hemenway, Rates of Household Firearm Ownership and Homicide Across US Regions and States, 1988-1997, 92 Am. J. Pub. Health 1988 (2002). []
  9. David Hemenway, Private Guns, Public Health 65 (2004). []
  10. WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010, supra note 1. []
  11. Id. []
  12. Id. []
  13. Id. []
  14. Garen J. Wintemute et al., Mortality Among Recent Purchasers of Handguns, 341 New Eng. J. Med. 1583, 1585 (Nov. 18, 1999). []
  15. WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010, supra note 1. []
  16. David C. Grossman, Donald T. Reay & Stephanie A. Baker, Self-inflicted & Unintentional Firearm Injuries Among Children & Adolescents: The Source of the Firearm, 153 Archives Pediatric & Adolescent Med. 875 (Aug. 1999), at http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/153/8/875. []
  17. Matthew Miller & David Hemenway, The Relationship Between Firearms and Suicide: A Review of the Literature, 4 Aggression & Violent Behavior 59, 62-65 (1999) (summarizing the findings of multiple studies). []
  18. WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010, supra note 1. []
  19. Id. []
  20. Id. []
  21. Matthew Miller, Deborah Azrael & David Hemenway, Firearm Availability and Unintentional Firearm Deaths, 33 Accident Analysis & Prevention 477 (July 2001). []
  22. U.S. General Accounting Office, Accidental Shootings: Many Deaths and Injuries Caused by Firearms Could Be Prevented 17 (Mar. 1991), at http://161.203.16.4/d20t9/143619.pdf. []
  23. Id. A loading indicator, also known as a “chamber load indicator,” is a safety device that indicates at a glance whether a firearm is loaded and whether a round remains in the chamber. []

Statistics on Youth Gun Violence & Gun Access

Posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Firearm injuries are the cause of death of 18 children and young adults (24 years of age and under) each day in the U.S.1

Children and young adults (24 years of age and under) constitute 38% of all firearm deaths and non-fatal injuries.2

In the United States, over 1.69 million kids age 18 and under are living in households with loaded and unlocked firearms.3

More than 75% of guns used in suicide attempts and unintentional injuries of 0-19 year-olds were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend.4

A 2000 study found that 55% of U.S. homes with children and firearms have one or more firearms in an unlocked place; 43% have guns without a trigger lock in an unlocked place.5

The practices of keeping firearms locked, unloaded, and storing ammunition in a locked location separate from firearms may assist in reducing youth suicide and unintentional injury in homes with children and teenagers where guns are stored.6

Many young children, including children as young as three years old, are strong enough to fire handguns.7

  1. Nat’l Ctr. for Injury Prevention & Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010, for National, Regional, and States (Sept. 2012), http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/dataRestriction_inj.html (hereinafter WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010. Note: Users must agree to data use restrictions on the CDC site prior to accessing data). []
  2. Id., Nat’l Ctr. for Injury Prevention & Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Nonfatal Injury Reports, at http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates2001.html (last visited Nov. 20, 2012) (hereinafter WISQARS Nonfatal Injury Reports). []
  3. Catherine A. Okoro et al., Prevalence of Household Firearms and Firearm-Storage Practices in the 50 States and the District of Columbia: Findings from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2002, 116 Pediatrics e370, e370 (Sept. 2005), at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/116/3/e370. []
  4. David C. Grossman, Donald T. Reay & Stephanie A. Baker, Self-inflicted & Unintentional Firearm Injuries Among Children & Adolescents: The Source of the Firearm, 153 Archives Pediatric & Adolescent Med. 875 (Aug. 1999), at http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/153/8/875. []
  5. Mark A. Schuster et al., Firearm Storage Patterns in U.S. Homes with Children, 90 Am. J. Pub. Health 588, 590 (Apr. 2000). []
  6. David C. Grossman et al., Gun Storage Practices and Risk of Youth Suicide and Unintentional Firearm Injuries, 293 JAMA 707, 711-13 (Feb. 2005). []
  7. Naureckas, S.M. et al, Children’s and Women’s Ability to Fire Handguns, 149 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 1318 (Dec. 1995). []

Statistics on Non-Powder Guns

Posted on Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Non-powder guns, including BB, air and pellet guns, injured 13,851 people in 2010, including 9,252 young people (age 19 or younger).1

From July 1993 to July 2003, non-powder guns caused 40 deaths nationwide.2 Although injury rates for non-powder guns appear to have declined significantly since the early 1990’s, non-powder guns are becoming more powerful and more accurate, and are often designed to appear almost indistinguishable from firearms.3

For additional information about non-powder guns, including background information and state and local laws on the topic, see our Non-Powder Guns Policy Summary.

  1. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Nonfatal Injury Reports 2010, at http://webapp.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates2001.html. []
  2. Jennifer E. Keller et al., Air-Gun Injuries: Initial Evaluation and Resultant Morbidity, 70 Am. Surgeon 484, 484 (June 2004). []
  3. Ann Marie McNeill & Joseph L. Annest, The Ongoing Hazard of BB and Pellet Gun-Related Injuries in the United States, 26 Annals Emergency Med. 187, 191-92 (Aug. 1995); Press Release, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC Chairman Challenges Toy Industry To Stop Producing Look-Alike Guns (Oct. 17, 1994), at http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/PRHTML95/95009.html. []

Statistics on Gun Deaths & Race

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Firearm homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans ages 1-44.1

African Americans make up nearly 13% of the U.S. population, but in 2009 suffered almost 24% of all firearm deaths – and over 54% of all firearm homicides.2

  1. Nat’l Ctr. for Injury Prevention & Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Leading Causes of Death Reports, 1999-2009, for National, Regional, and States (RESTRICTED), at http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/dataRestriction_lcd.html (last visited Mar. 8, 2012) (hereinafter WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, 1999-2009; Note: Users must agree to data use restrictions on the CDC site prior to accessing data). []
  2. Nat’l Ctr. for Injury Prevention & Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2009, for National, Regional, and States (Sept. 2011), http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/dataRestriction_inj.html (hereinafter WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2009. Note: Users must agree to data use restrictions on the CDC site prior to accessing data). []

Statistics on Domestic Violence & Firearms

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Guns increase the probability of death in incidents of domestic violence.1

Firearms were used to kill more than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims between 1990 and 2005.2

Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force.3

Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.4

A recent survey of female domestic violence shelter residents in California found that more than one third (36.7%) reported having been threatened or harmed with a firearm.5 In nearly two thirds (64.5%) of the households that contained a firearm, the intimate partner had used the firearm against the victim, usually threatening to shoot or kill the victim.6

Laws that prohibit the purchase of a firearm by a person subject to a domestic violence restraining order are associated with a reduction in the number of intimate partner homicides.7

Between 1990 and 2005, individuals killed by current dating partners made up almost half of all spouse and current dating partner homicides.8

A study of applicants for domestic violence restraining orders in Los Angeles found that the most common relationship between the victim and abuser was a dating relationship, and applications for protective orders were more likely to mention firearms when the parties had not lived together and were not married.9

For additional information about domestic violence and firearms, including background information and state and local laws on the topic, see the Law Center’s Domestic Violence and Firearms Policy Summary.

  1. Susan B. Sorenson, Firearm Use in Intimate Partner Violence: A Brief Overview, in 30 Evaluation Review, A Journal of Applied Social Research, Special Issue: Intimate Partner Violence and Firearms, 229, 232-33 (Susan B. Sorenson ed., 2006). []
  2. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, Homicide Trends in the U.S.: Intimate Homicide (July 2007), at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/intimates.cfm. []
  3. Linda E. Saltzman, et al., Weapon Involvement and Injury Outcomes in Family and Intimate Assaults, 267 JAMA, 3043-3047 (1992). []
  4. Jacquelyn C. Campbell et al., Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multisite Case Control Study, 93 Am. J. Pub. Health 1089, 1092 (July 2003). []
  5. Susan B. Sorenson et al., Weapons in the Lives of Battered Women, 94 Am. J. Pub. Health 1412, 1413 (2004). []
  6. Id. at 1414. []
  7. Elizabeth R. Vigdor et al., Do Laws Restricting Access to Firearms by Domestic Violence Offenders Prevent Intimate Partner Homicide?, 30 Evaluation Rev. 313, 332 (June 2006). []
  8. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, Homicide Trends in the U.S.: Intimate Homicide (July 2007), at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/intimates.cfm. []
  9. Katherine A. Vittes et al., Are Temporary Restraining Orders More Likely to be Issued When Application Mention Firearms?, 30 Evaluation Rev. 266, 271, 275 (2006). []

Statistics on the Costs of Gun Violence

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Firearm-related deaths and injuries result in estimated medical costs of $2.3 billion each year – half of which are borne by U.S. taxpayers.1

Once all the direct and indirect medical, legal and societal costs are factored together, the annual cost of gun violence in America amounts to $100 billion.2

  1. Philip Cook et al., The Medical Costs of Gunshot Injuries in the United States, 282 JAMA 447 (Aug. 4, 1999). []
  2. Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, Gun Violence: The Real Costs 115 (2000). []

Statistics on Gun Ownership

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Americans own an estimated 270 million firearms – approximately 90 guns for every 100 people.1

  1. Small Arms Survey, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City at 39 (Aug. 2007). []

Statistics on Gun Crimes

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

In 2007, nearly 70% of all murders nationwide were committed with a firearm.1

In 2007, 385,178 total firearm crimes were committed, including 11,512 murders, 190,514 robberies, and 183,153 aggravated assaults.2

  1. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Key Facts at a Glance: Crimes Committed with Firearms, 1973-2007, at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/tables/guncrimetab.cfm (last visited Aug. 15, 2010). []
  2. Id. []

Statistics on the Dangers of Gun Use for Self-Defense

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Using a gun in self-defense is no more likely to reduce the chance of being injured during a crime than various other forms of protective action.1

Of the 13,636 Americans who were murdered in 2009, only 215 were killed by firearms (165 by handguns) in homicides by private citizens that law enforcement determined were justifiable.2

A study reviewing surveys of gun use in the U.S. determined that most self-reported self-defense gun uses may well be illegal and against the interests of society.3

  1. David Hemenway, Private Guns, Public Health 78 (2004). []
  2. Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Crime in the United States, 2009, Expanded Homicide Data Table 15, at http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_15.html (last visited Oct. 10, 2010). (A “justifiable homicide” in this context is defined by the FBI as the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen). []
  3. David Hemenway, Deborah Azrael & Matthew Miller, Gun Use in the United States: Results from Two National Surveys, 6 Inj. Prevention 263, 263 (2000). []