2018 Gun Violence Study: Some Numbers

Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, we pledged to take a deep dive into the subject of gun violence this year. As we said at the time, our goal is to do so from a firmly evidence-based, public health-focused point of view. But reliable data on this topic is sometimes hard to come by.

This we do know:

  • In the US, we saw around 38,000 gun deaths in 2016.
  • By comparison, 37,461 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents.
  • About two thirds of gun deaths nationwide are from suicide.
  • Statistics on the relationship between legal gun ownership and gun crime remain patchy. But according to a 2016 study in Pittsburgh, 8 out of 10 gun criminals were carrying guns that were not their own. 
  • Black Americans are significantly more likely to be the victims of gun homicide, making up approximately 50% of the victims yet only 13% of the overall population.
  • White Americans are more at risk from gun suicide than from gun homicide.
  • The vast majority of gun violence victims are shot by someone they know.

It is indisputable that the gun-related homicide rate in the US is higher than other high-income nations (6 times that of Canada, 16 times that of Germany), and yet our overall prevalence of violent crime is similar. Given the uniquely American nature of this problem, it seems that all of us—regardless of our politics, or our position on regulation—should welcome a frank and open exploration of the cause of this disparity. Yet, since 1996, there has been very little funding for the CDC to research the issue.

As this project rolls out, we’ll be exploring specific aspects of the topic in more depth, including the following:

  • Gun violence, equity, race, poverty and socioeconomics
  • Conflict resolution, mental & emotional health, and the power of social safety nets
  • The intersection between constitutional gun rights and appropriate gun regulation
  • The role of community organizations in tackling this epidemic

We understand that this is an extremely sensitive topic, but difficult conversations are often the most important ones. So please, continue to join us as we learn more together. Share what you know, point us to resources and give us your thoughts. And let us know what your organization is doing to help prevent gun violence. None of us can afford to ignore this issue and none of us can solve it alone.

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