Statistics on Gun Deaths & Injuries

Posted on November 16, 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. []