With 100,000 Americans shot every year—and 30,000 dying from those wounds—gun violence is undoubtedly a major health crisis in the United States. To outline the leading causes of injury death by age, we highlighted instances of gun violence in this chart to show just how pervasive the issue is—and how urgently we need reforms and smart gun laws to protect communities from tragedy.
Ranking in the top 10 for injury deaths for all ages except babies under the age of 1, we know guns threaten us at every single stage in our lives. Compiled using data from the Centers for Disease Control, the chart not only reveals the destructive nature of gun violence, but also shows just how instrumental the CDC’s research is in understanding the health issues that plague the United States. We’re proud to stand with California representative Mike Honda, who recently introduced a bill calling for an end to the CDC’s ban on gun violence research, to offer Americans a data-driven approach to ending this epidemic. We desperately need to support efforts toward transparency in determining what threatens our safety—especially when one of those threats is as preventable as gun violence.
We’ve broken down the chart into some key takeaways:
- Ranking in the top five causes of death for Americans between the ages of 5 and 44, firearm homicide is an overwhelming threat at almost every age.
- Firearm suicide—the third leading cause of death for children ages 10–14—remains in the top four causes of death for all subsequent age groups. With guns, the decision to take one’s own life is almost always irreversible—even if the person making that decision is only in the fourth grade.
- Tragically, unintentional firearm deaths rank 10th and ninth for children ages 5–9 and 10–14, respectively. With guns in the home, children or toddlers looking for their toys and playing with their siblings can find deadly weapons instead—and kill themselves or their siblings without knowing the consequences that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Gun locks, safe storage practices and child access prevention laws can help prevent these senseless shootings.
This year, for the first time, firearm deaths are expected to take more lives in the 15–24 age group than motor vehicle accidents. The continual string of tragic school shootings and violence among young adults reminds us on a daily basis just how suddenly a promising life can end and how devastating it is that more and more young people are dying as a result of completely preventable gun violence.
Though we may only hear about shootings in the media when extreme or shocking mass shootings occur, the facts show that gun violence is a lethal threat to American lives each and every day. We need to implement smart gun laws that reverse the trend of horrific gun violence in the United States—not only through common sense solutions such as universal background checks and ammunition regulations, but by supporting government agencies, such as the CDC, designed to ensure our safety by taking on challenges to our public health.
For more information on how to keep children safe from unintended shootings, see our Commonsense Solutions Toolkit.