The Atlantic has put together some proper facts andÂ statisticsÂ about “gun violence” in America. I think you will be surprised, particularly those of you like the dick Piers Morgan who call for assault rifle bans just how few deaths are caused byt people armed with assault rifles:
How much gun violence is there in the U.S.?
There were 8,583 homicides by firearms in 2011, out of 12,664 homicides total, according to theÂ FBI. This means that more than two-thirds of homicides involve a firearm. 6,220 of those homicides by firearm (72%) are known to have involved a handgun.
It’s worth noting that violent crime rates of all types have beenÂ steadily decreasingÂ since the early 1990s. No one is quite sure what is causing this decrease, though there areÂ many theories, ranging from tighter gun control laws to more innovative policing and changes in the drug market. Whatever the cause of this decline, America still has a homicide rate ofÂ 4.7Â murders per 100,000 people, which is one of the highest of all developed countries (see:Â international comparison).
Gun violence also affects more than its victims. In areas where it is prevalent, just the threat of violence makes neighborhoods poorer. It’s very difficult to quantify the total harm caused by gun violence, but by asking many people how much they would pay to avoid this threat — a technique calledÂ contingent valuationÂ — researchers have estimated a cost to American society ofÂ $100 billion dollars.
Guns are also involved in suicides and accidents. 19,392 of 38,264 suicides in 2010 involved a gun (50%), according to theÂ CDC. There were 606 firearm-related accidents in the same year — about 5% of the number of intentional gun deaths.
How often are guns used in self-defense?
There are no comprehensive records kept of incidents where guns are used in self-defense, so the only way to know is to ask people. Data from the National Crime Victimization Survey suggest that a gun is used in self-defenseÂ about 60,000 to 120,000 times each year. Several other surveys confirm this estimate. By comparison, each year about a million violent crimes involve guns. This means guns are used to commit a crime about 10 times as often as they are used for self-defense.
A few surveys in the early 1990s suggested that there are millions gun self-defense incidents each year, but there are very good reasons to believe that these estimates were improperly calculated andÂ these numbers are way off, more than 10 times too high. If the numbers really were this high, this would imply that pretty much every gunshot wound inÂ America is the result of somebody protecting him or herself.