Everything you ever wanted to know about gun violence in America

The Atlantic has put together some proper facts and statistics 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 the 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 been steadily decreasing since the early 1990s. No one is quite sure what is causing this decrease, though there are 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 of 4.7 murders per 100,000 people, which is one of the highest of all developed countries (see: 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 called contingent valuation — researchers have estimated a cost to American society of $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 the 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-defense 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 and 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 in America is the result of somebody protecting him or herself.


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  • cows4me

    Another theory on why violent crime rates may be falling is abortion on demand. Poorer and ill educated are more inclined to abort so a generation is not there to take up the mantel, so to speak. There was a great film on Rialto a long time back that dealt with many things that appear odd when viewed in normal reality. Sorry no idea what it was called.

    • Orange

      More inclined? Surely you have that backwards.

      • cows4me

        Apparently not Orange. Statisticians in the USA were at a loss to explain the lowering violent crime rate. It would seem many in the inner city with high crime levels were also having the most abortions. The fall in crime rates also corresponded with the abortion rates over 20 or so years.

        • Paranormal

          Thats freakonomics theory that I believe has been discredited. The change in crime rates are from a number of factors, most relevant being Clinton’s change in social security requirements. It was proven in Wisconsin then Clinton rolled it out across the US.

          • Hazards001

            That would be the socialist theory of “handing over wealth created by others to people not prepared to do anything will lower the crime rate” theory…yeah?

            Personally that theory gets up my nose…I’m all for cows4me abort and Darwin theories myself.

          • Paranormal

            Well maybe you should understand what the reforms were before shooting your mouth off? They required those receiving welfare to be actively looking for work or in work schemes. Have a look at: http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/7012

          • Hazards001

            Maybe you should consider that people are sick and fucking tired of cunts like you sticking up for fuckwits that won’t work when they can. Shove ya link up your arse cos i’m off this site anyway

          • StupidDisqus

            I don’t give a shit whether they “can” or “cannot”

            No bludging. ever. starve in the gutter where you belong.

  • JC

    One of the fascinating things about multiple killings is that Europe, one of the most peacable gun controlling places around has killed around 200 million people in the last 100 years compared to about 2 million in the US.

    As Jean-François Revel wrote, “The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet
    lands only in Europe.”