The state of gun violence in the US, explained in 18 charts

The state of gun violence in the US, explained in 18 charts

August 16, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


“We need rescue inside the auditorium.
Multiple victims.” The United States has a problem with gun violence. BUSH: We hold the victims in our hearts. CLINTON: Perhaps we may never fully understand
it. “A man with a semiautomatic weapon.” We talk about it after mass shootings. But
it’s much larger, and more complicated than those debates allow. Here’s what you need
to know about the state of gun violence in America. It’s true that the US sees many more mass
shootings than these other developed countries. Between 2000 and 2014, there were 133 mass
shootings in public, populated places. That’s excluding gang violence and terrorism. Of course, the US is a much larger country,
but if you adjust for population size, it still ranks higher. Of these countries, Finland is next, with just 2 shootings over 14 years, but a much, much smaller population. And this type of tragedy seems to be happening
more often in the US. Each of these squares represents a public mass shooting with 4 or
more fatalities. Before 2011, they happened 6 months apart on average, but since then,
only 2 months go by between them. OBAMA: I hope and pray that I don’t have to
come out again during my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families in these
circumstances. That was October 1, 2015. And just about 2
months later. OBAMA: Yesterday, a tragedy occurred in San
Bernardino. Our first order of business is to send our thoughts and prayers to the families
of those who’ve been killed. Public mass shootings get all the attention
because they’re often so indiscriminate, but the truth is mass shootings are unlike
most gun deaths in America. Here’s how it breaks down: According to the most recent data, 92 people
are killed with guns every day on average. About 30 of those are homicides of which maybe
1.5 at most can be considered part of mass shootings. Most of those killed, 58 people a day, are
suicides. The rest are accidental shootings, police actions, and undetermined incidents. Those suicides – they show up in international
comparisons, too. These are the 10 countries ranked highest on Human Development by the
UN. The US has the highest suicide rate among them, and this darker bar shows how many of
those are with guns. Some people think suicide isn’t really relevant
to the gun issue. LOTT: To go and think some type of gun control
regulations that are being talked about are going to stop somebody from committing suicide
when there are so many other ways to commit suicide. But the methods that people use are important
because suicide attempts often stem from temporary crises. The vast majority of people who survive
suicide attempts don’t end up dying from suicide. But guns make it nearly impossible
to get that second chance. The victims of gun suicides are overwhelmingly
men, and mostly white. And the rate of gun suicides has been increasing
in the US. At the same time, the rate of gun homicides has been decreasing, especially
since the 90s when crime rates in general were higher. But if you compare the US to other developed
countries, it doesn’t look like good news. These are homicides adjusted for population
size. The US would probably have a higher homicide rate even without guns, but you can
see how gun violence pushes that rate far beyond the other countries here. The victims of these shootings — they’re
not the ones you often see on the national news. They’re disproportionately young black
men. SHUNDRA ROBINSON: You guys can leave here
and go on with your lives, but we gotta go home to empty rooms. Because our children’s
lives were taken away by people who should not have had guns anyway. One possible explanation is that US simply
has more crime than those other countries. But if you set aside homicides for a moment
and look rates of burglary, or assault, you don’t see the same spike that you see with
homicide. It’s not that America has much more crime.
It’s that crime in the US is much more lethal. Altogether, the number of gun deaths in the
US from 2000 to 2013 exceeds the number of Americans killed by AIDS, by illegal drug
overdoses, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and terrorism, combined. It should be clear by now that this level
of gun violence is a uniquely American problem among the developed world. And here’s one
reason why. There are a ton of guns in the US. This chart
of shows the estimated number of guns by country. It’s adjusted for population size and it’s
still not even close. OREGON SHOOTER’S FATHER: The question that
I would like to ask is how on Earth could he compile 13 guns? How can that happen? If you take a look back at the 10 countries
with the highest levels of human development, you can see that it’s relatively really
easy to get a gun in the US. All of the other countries require a license to purchase most
guns and those purchases are recorded into an official registry. To get that license
people have to state a reason for why they want a gun, and in most countries, they have
to pass a safety test and are required by law to store their guns safely. In part because of its lax laws, there are
well over 300 million guns in the US and counting. This chart doesn’t reflect private sales
but it shows the number of background checks, which all federally licensed dealers have
to run. It suggests the demand for guns has been increasing steeply since Barack Obama
took office. So we’ve looked at gun deaths and at gun
ownership. This chart puts them together. It shows that among highly developed countries,
the more guns in a country, the more gun deaths. You can see that countries like Switzerland,
which have relatively more guns than a country like the Netherlands, also have a higher gun
death rate. And here’s the US. Likewise, US states with more guns have more
gun homicides. There are outliers like Idaho, which has high rates of gun ownership but
low rates of gun murders. But overall, there’s a correlation between gun ownership and homicide
rates, and that relationship has held up in studies that control for things like poverty,
unemployment, and crime. The correlation between gun ownership and
gun deaths is even stronger for suicides. It make sense. Depression with a gun is more
dangerous than depression without one. Likewise, fights, domestic disputes, road
rage, drunkenness — all much more dangerous with a gun than without. That said, you might need different policies
to keep guns away from potential mass shooters than you’d need to keep them out of inner
city gangs or out of the hands of someone who might hurt themselves. America doesn’t
have a gun problem, it has several of them.