Gun statistics in a country where 100,000 people get shot every year

Just like some of my colleagues, I grow tired of arguing with gun enthusiasts about facts and figures. It doesn’t matter how much you can prove the Earth is round, for the people who put faith in their beliefs, the Earth will always be flat.

So instead of arguing about gun safety, the destructiveness of an outdated second amendment and the thousands of casualties it causes, I thought I’d simply present the American firearm statistics behind it.

Who are the Owners of Firearms?

Half of the civilian owned firearms in the world belong to American citizens. Among the 178 countries surveyed in 2007, the United States owns nearly twice as many firearms per capita than its nearest counterparts (Serbia & Yemen). As of 2014, the US has 97 guns for every 100 people.

Despite popular belief, the share of American households with guns is on the decline. In fact according to the New York Times, gun ownership has dropped steadily since the 1970s. In 1973, 50% of American families owned a gun. In the 1990s the number was reduced to 43% and by 2012 the number was reduced further to 34%.

American Firearm Statistics, gun ownership

Meanwhile firearm sales continue to go through the roof. As the previous paragraph suggests, more people aren’t buying guns, gun owners are simply buying more of them. Predominantly during Democratic presidencies. With huge spikes coming at the beginning of Clinton and Obama’s first term, you would think the NRA is secretly trying to get Democrats elected.

American Firearm Statistics, gun sales

Who are the Victims of Firearms?

I recently read an article in Forbes that claimed gun related homicides are falling drastically. Nonsense if you look where this fool gathered his data. He started off in 1993 when gun violence was at an all-time high (especially in California). If you go back another twenty years you’ll see the gun homicide rate hasn’t changed significantly in either direction overall.

American Firearm Statistics, gun deaths

Other than a five year span in the early nineties, fatalities of firearms have normally numbered around 10,000, give or take. When you take in gun related suicides into account, the number always triples to around 30,000.

Although the Homicide rate hasn’t changed much, or even if it has decreased a little lately, the violence has gone up. Since 2001 the number of wounded as a result of firearms has increased steadily with population growth. In 2011, the number of firearm related injuries was 73,833.

American Firearm Statistics, gun injuries

When you add it all up, over 100,000 Americans get shot every year.

Another unfortunate statistic that must now be included in these types of reports is the amount of mass shootings the country sees. According to Mother Jones, mass shootings have increased dramatically over the last decade and it peaked in 2012 (which is the last year of data.)

American Firearm Statistics, mass shootings

How does the United States Compare to others?

The United States has one of the highest gun related homicide rates on earth and the highest in the developed world. As I mentioned earlier, the US also has the most guns.

 

American firearm statistics, Gun homicide rate by country
Gun homicide rate by country

American firearm statistics, guns per country

It should also be pointed out that the United States is still the biggest exporter of weapons in the world. US exports of weapons nearly doubled their closest rival (Russia) between 2008-2011.

American firearm statistics, gun market

What are the solutions?

If you live outside the United States the solutions are rather simple. Many of us argue that it is the amount of poverty/inequality combined with the “right” to bear arms itself. We understand that freedom does not come from owning a gun, freedom comes from knowing you don’t need one.

For those that live in the United States, the issue is a little more complex, but I can tell you this; a majority of Americans support some basic gun control measures. More than half support an assault weapons ban and high capacity magazines while almost 90% support universal background check. You can argue whether it will help bring down the level of gun violence, but it is the will of the people.

american firearm statistics

7 COMMENTS

  1. There is much merit in continuing to produce the statistical data that indicates just how many firearms are in circulation in the U.S., how per capita firearm ownership in the U.S. compares to the more sane countries of the industrialized world, how much higher the incidence of firearm-related violent injury/death is in the U.S. compared to the rest of the industrialized world, etc., etc.

    Unfortunately, like the science of climate change, like the economic evidence indicating that GOP austerity policies—this is not Obama’s economy, this is the economy of House Republicans—only increase wealth/capital/income/opportunity inequality and that what is really needed is more government investment (cf. Infrastructure Investment Bank Bill that House GOP will not even allow to come to the floor for debate) spending, despite the evidence that massive tax cuts for the wealthy do not create jobs (cf. the CBO study that John Boehner suppressed six weeks prior to the 2012 presidential election), presenting factual information does not change the politically-based or religiously-based views/beliefs of the American Right. A recent study by Dan Kahan of Yale Law School indicates that “factual beliefs on high-profile issues” do not have the power to alter the political or religious beliefs of the vast majority of Americans. It is not, he notes, that people lack information or are not knowledgeable about the science of an issue. It is that “with science as with politics, identity often trumps the facts.”

    Although evidence of this is all around us every day, one would only have to read the comments written in response to this article to understand how facts are simply disregarded in favor of deeply- and viscerally-held views that are tied to an individual’s identity. Along with helping us understand how/why people are in denial about climate change, austerity economics, gun control, etc., etc., this perspective also helps us understand how/why particular groups of people would continue to vote against their own best interests. And, of course, how manipulative demagogues get them to do it.

    I have hunted all my life. I have been around guns all my life. Though my “collection” of firearms is more representative of a southern hunter’s sparse needs—two handguns (to shoot snakes, mostly), two shotguns, a 30.06 and an old .22/4-10 over-and-under—than a gun-lover’s exotic wants, I still have guns round-about. But my identity is not tied up in gun ownership or the culture of gun ownership. Hence, I believe the statistics and think that the American Right is out of its collective mind in both denying the obvious and reacting with hyped paranoia every time the slightest mention of the slightest change in gun laws is made.

    But it is virtually impossible, as Kahan’s study shows, to engage in sensible dialogue with people who are reactive, reflexive and visceral per a particular issue. It would be like someone trying to convince me that one of my hounds is ugly. It might be true and I might know it to be true, but I’ll fight you to the death to prove that it’s not.

    We’re in a real pickle in this country.

  2. I wonder why Mike didn’t bother using FBI data?
    BTW I live in Oregon where 1 out of 15 residents are licensed to carry concealed, there are no waiting periods to buy from a dealer as long as you pass the NICS check and it’s legal to drive around with a loaded AR on your dashboard. Our per capita murder rate is lees than half of California’s.
    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/tables/20tabledatadecpdf/table_20_murder_by_state_types_of_weapons_2012.xls

    Paul Joe G

  3. Quiet Mike said:
    Meanwhile firearm sales continue to go through the roof. As the previous paragraph suggests, more people aren’t buying guns, gun owners are simply buying more of them. Predominantly during Democratic presidencies. With huge spikes coming at the beginning of Clinton and Obama’s first term, you would think the NRA is secretly trying to get Democrats elected.

    Democrats are their own worst enemy. If they didn’t keep trying to restrict and/or ban guns, the numbers would be a lot smaller. Something about shooting yourself in the foot…

    Quiet Mike said:
    I recently read an article in Forbes that claimed gun related homicides are falling drastically. Nonsense if you look where this fool gathered his data. He started off in 1993 when gun violence was at an all-time high (especially in California). If you go back another twenty years you’ll see the gun homicide rate hasn’t changed significantly in either direction overall.

    The chart following this paragraph is only for ages 10-24. For some reason you didn’t mention that tidbit of relevant information. Got anything for overall numbers for the same time period?

    Quiet Mike said:
    Another unfortunate statistic that must now be included in these types of reports is the amount of mass shootings the country sees. According to Mother Jones, mass shootings have increased dramatically over the last decade and it peaked in 2012 (which is the last year of data.)

    And then dropped steeply in 2013 according to Mother Jones. Year-to-year variations can be a real wench.

    Quiet Mike said:
    It should also be pointed out that the United States is still the biggest exporter of weapons in the world. US exports of weapons nearly doubled their closest rival (Russia) between 2008-2011.

    The chart following this paragraph is for foreign military sales. What does that have to do with people getting shot in America? Other than deceptively cranking up the outrage factor, that is.

    Quiet Mike said:
    For those that live in the United States, the issue is a little more complex, but I can tell you this; a majority of Americans support some basic gun control measures. More than half support an assault weapons ban and high capacity magazines while almost 90% support universal background check.

    More than half don’t have a clue what an assault weapon is. Since it works to their advantage, confusing semiautomatic firearms with machine guns has always been encouraged by gun control advocates:

    “Assault weapons—just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms—are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons.”

    -Josh Sugarmann, “Assault Weapons and Accessories in America,” 1988

    Nor would most people have a clue that most of what are called high capacity magazines are simply the standard magazine for many firearms. It’s just more typical anti-gun deception.

    Quiet Mike said:
    You can argue whether it will help bring down the level of gun violence, but it is the will of the people.

    Yep, I sure can argue about it. And about that will of the people, too bad (for you) that we don’t live in a pure democracy. There’s that little matter of the Constitution. Don’t like it? Article V is made for you. Have at it. I’m not too worried.

  4. Of course there are more gun deaths in this country then elsewhere. They dont have guns. Perhaps a look at violent crime in those other countries would help frame this issue. Also most Americans favor these restrictions? Another crock. Look at how many STATES are pro gun. This Union gave those states the RIGHT to pass their peoples views which obviously conflict with yours and you dont like it. Id like to see some of your statistics for urban crime vs rural and sub urban gun crime. And what the laws of those urban areas are. Lets see how those restrictive laws passed by your legislators have fared for your misguided citizens.

  5. I think the upshot is that the rights have to do with life and liberty and are not subject to cost benefit analysis or crime trends.

    One of the main stumbling blocks of the background check legislation had to do with the need for record keeping, which would constitute a registration risk, and there is strong support for protection against that. Only absent such a threat I could believe the 88% figure, in other words, background checks per se are favorably viewed, but in practice the devil’s in the details.

    The ‘assault weapon’ ban or mag restrictions on the federal level would be very risky, and with all the materiel in circulation of dubious merit.

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