18 Facts About Gun Violence — and 6 Promising Ways to Reduce the Suffering

Students of area High Schools rally at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after participating in a county wide school walk out in Parkland, Florida on February 21, 2018.
A former student, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School leaving 17 people dead and 15 injured on February 14. / AFP PHOTO / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States suffers from a gun violence crisis, a problem exacerbated by misinformation and a lack of understanding of the epidemic’s dimensions and scale. Knowing the facts can be a first step toward advancing solutions and preventing some of the tens of thousands of homicides, assaults, and other crimes committed with firearms each year.

Below is a guide to the data and research that provides a complete picture of gun violence in the United States — and ways to reduce it.

18 Essential Facts About Gun Violence in America

More than 38,000 people died from gunshot wounds in 2016.

That’s the most recent year for which federal data is available. By that count, the national firearm death rate climbed to 12.0 per 100,000 people in 2016 — a level not seen since the mid-1990s.

In 2016, about 59 percent of gun deaths were suicides, according to the CDC. Over the past five years, the share of gun deaths caused by suicide has declined slightly, while the proportion of homicides has increased. Accidental shooting deaths have also declined relative to other gun deaths.

More than 80,000 people survive a gunshot every year.

The vast majority of people who are shot every year survive. Victims report dealing with chronic pain, crushing medical bills, PTSD, underemployment, and social isolation.

By one definition, mass shootings are a daily occurrence in the United States.

The FBI does not track “mass shootings.” Instead, it maintains statistics on “mass murders,” which the bureau defines as an event in which four or more people are killed — excluding the perpetrator — at one time.

The narrow definition of mass shootings is useful for studying rampage attacks like the shootings in Parkland, Florida, Las Vegas, and Orlando. But it omits many instances of two significant categories of gun violence: domestic violence cases and multiple-victim shootings resulting in the deaths and injuries of people of color. Counting mass shootings by counting only the dead can therefore underplay the harms firearms impose on those communities.

Using a broader definition – instances in which four or more people are wounded or killed by guns, under any circumstance — mass shootings occur more than once a day in America, according to three years worth of data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, which culls its statistics from press reports and social media.

Read more at The Trace.