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Gun Violence: The Impact on Public Health

Published on: July 12, 2022. Updated on: July 12, 2022.


326 mass shootings

within the first 189 days of 2022

These interactive panels allow users to explore how gun violence has grown across the United States and become the leading cause of death for children and adolescents.

The number of firearm deaths grew by nearly 43% between 2010 and 2020 - reaching 45,222 deaths by the end of the decade. Suicide by firearms have also continued to rise alarmingly.

Citations
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Gun violence is a public health problem: American Public Health Association, Gun Violence is a Public Health Crisis, 2021

45,222 deaths, more than any other year on record: John Gramlich, Pew Research Center, What the data says about gun deaths in the U.S., February 2022

  • Note: This metric is from 2020, the most recent year for which complete data is available.

321 people are shot each day: The Brady Plan, Key Statistics, 2019

For every one person who dies by firearm, more than two survive: The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, Nonfatal Gun Violence, July 2020

Expensive and long-term mental and physical injuries: Alice Miranda Ollstein and Nicholas Wu, Politico, “Health costs of gun violence exceed $1 billion a year, GAO says”, July 2021

Firearm deaths 2010 to 2019: Statista, Number of firearm deaths in the United States from 1990 to 2019, January 2022

25% increase from 2015 to 2020: John Gramlich, Pew Research Center, What the data says about gun deaths in the U.S., February 2022

43% increase from 2010 to 2020: John Gramlich, Pew Research Center, What the data says about gun deaths in the U.S., February 2022

Between 2018 and 2021, there was a yearly average of around 513 mass shooting events. While mass shootings are often the most publicized events, they are not the primary source of gun violence.

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326 mass shootings in 2022 within the first 189 days of the year: Gun Violence Archive, Gun Violence Archive 2022, June 2022

Gun violence definition: Gun Violence Archive, General Methodology, 2022

Mass shootings 2018 - 2021: Gun Violence Archive, Past Summary Ledgers, June 2022

Mass shootings January 1 - July 8, 2022: Gun Violence Archive, Gun Violence Archive 2022, June 2022

Historically, mass shootings typically occur in the latter half of the year: Shayanne Gal and Madison Hall, Insider, “The US has had 214 mass shootings so far in 2022. Here's the full list.”, May 2022

Mass shootings account for less than 2% of gun deaths: German Lopez, The New York Times, “America’s Gun Problem”, May 2022

More typical acts of gun violence: German Lopez, The New York Times, “America’s Gun Problem”, May 2022

Prior to 2020, motor vehicle accidents were consistently the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the US. In 2021, 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people under the age of 19 years old were related to firearms.

In response to the number of deaths and injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents, numerous legislative steps have been taken to improve car and motor vehicle safety over time. Until recently, there had not been any widespread federal legislation in response to gun violence since 1994, an act that expired in 2004.

Citations
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Guns are the leading cause of death for American children and adolescents: Jason E Goldstick, PhD et al., New England Journal of Medicine, “Current Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United States”, May 2022

  • Children and adolescents are defined as persons 1 to 19 years old.

For the first time, guns surpassed motor vehicle accidents as cause of death: Daniel J Flannery and Ruth W Begun, “Guns surpass motor vehicles as top cause of death for U.S. children: What parents should know”, Case Western Reserve University, Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences

Firearm vs. motor vehicle deaths: Dan Keating, The Washington Post, “Guns killed more young people than cars did for the first time in 2020”, May 2022

  • Data in the above article is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention'sWeb-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS).

In 2019, one child or teen was killed with a firearm every 2 hours and 36 minutes: The Children’s Defense Fund, The State of America;s Children 2021 Gun Violence, 2022

Firearm homicide rates: Scott R Kegler, PhD et al., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, “Vital Signs: Changes in Firearm Homicide and Suicide Rates — United States, 2019–2020”

Overall, incidents of gunfire on school grounds have been on the rise since 2013. Across the US, Georgia has the highest number of gunfire occurrences on school grounds in this timeframe, resulting in 10 deaths and 38 injuries.

Citations
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943 cases of gunfire on school grounds: Everytown, Gunfire on School Grounds in the United States, 2022

School shootings over time: Everytown, Gunfire on School Grounds in the United States, 2022

Higher risk of dying by firearm than from COVID-19: The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, A Year in Review: 2020 Gun Deaths in the US, April 2022

Mental illness is often stigmatized as being the cause of gun violence. However, only a minority of mass shooters have experienced serious mental illness. It is estimated that 96% of the common violence that occurs would continue even if the elevated risk of violence among people with mental illness was eliminated.

Citations
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Mental Illness is not a predictor of violence towards others: Mental Health Alliance, Gun Deaths, Violence, and Mental Health, 2022

Mental illness is not a significant risk factor for gun violence: The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, Mental Illness and Gun Violence, 2020

Mental illness is blamed as the cause: The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, Mental Illness and Gun Violence, 2020

Only a minority of mass shooters have experienced serious mental illness: Jennifer Skeem and Edward Mulvey, Criminology and Public Policy, “What role does serious mental illness play in mass shootings, and how should we address it?”, December 2019

People with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence: Katie O’Connor, Psychiatric News, “Mental Illness Too Often Wrongly Associated With Gun Violence”, June 2021

Gun violence may case mental health issues: The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, Mental Illness and Gun Violence, 2020

United States rates of mental illness vs. gun violence compared to other countries: The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, Mental Illness and Gun Violence, 2020

Comparison to other high-income countries: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, On gun violence, the United States is an outlier, May 2022

25 times as often: The Brady Plan, Key Statistics, 2019

United States has more civilian-owned firearms than civilians: Aaron Karp, Small Arms Survey, Estimating Global CivilianHELD Firearms Numbers, June 2018

  • Note: This metric is from 2018, the most recent year for which complete data is available.

On June 25, 2022, President Biden signed the bipartisan gun safety bill. This new legislation aims to improve mental health support and school safety, restrict firearm access for domestic violence offenders, enable states to put in place laws that will allow authorities to take weapons from those deemed “dangerous”, and toughen background checks for young gun buyers.

Citations
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Most significant federal legislation since 1994: Clare Foran, Ali Zaslav, Lauren Fox, and Ted Barrett, CNN, “Senate passes first major federal gun safety legislation in decades”, June 2022

Expanded background checks, “boyfriend loophole”, red flag laws, and illegal gun purchases:

Federally licensed gun dealers:

Mental health and school safety:

This infographic was reviewed by Paul Helmke, professor of practice at Indiana University's O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and founding director of the Civic Leaders Living-Learning Center.


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