The Truth About Gun Violence: Three Facts You Need to Know
Sixty-seven people die by firearm suicide daily — more than the deadliest mass shooting in American history happening every single day.
The numbers don’t lie. Gun violence remains our national shame.
This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data related to firearm deaths. The numbers were heartbreaking — nearly 40,000 Americans died by gun violence in 2018 — but unfortunately, they were not surprising. Despite a minimal decrease in overall firearm deaths from 2017, gun violence continues to take an enormous toll on our society.
In a new analysis of the 2018 data, our affiliate, The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, released Gun Violence in America: An Analysis of 2018 CDC Data. Below are some key findings from the report:
- The number of firearm suicides reached a record high in 2018.
Suicides comprise the majority of gun deaths in the United States. The newly-released CDC data shows there were 578 more firearm suicide deaths in 2018 compared to 2017, continuing a trend of annual increases since 2006. Notably, for the first time, the number of firearm suicide deaths in a year exceeded 24,000. That record-high number:
- Is more than twice the number of alcohol-impaired driving deaths in 2018.
- Amounts to 67 people dying by firearm suicide daily — more than the deadliest mass shooting in American history happening every single day.
- Is more than the capacity of Madison Square Garden.
Firearms are the most lethal and most commonly used suicide method in the United States. It is time to treat firearm suicide like the public health problem it is. A multilevel approach to suicide prevention that addresses access to firearms can save lives.
Visit www.PreventFirearmSuicide.org to learn more about suicide prevention interventions at the individual, relationship, community, and societal levels.
2. Gun violence kills 103 Americans each day.
Despite a slight decrease in overall firearm deaths for the first time since 2014, the number of people dying each day from gun violence is still far too high. We must use this information to craft strong, evidence-based policies that will stop gun violence in all its forms.
One such law — the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) — allows law enforcement, and in most states family members, to petition a court to remove firearms from those who are a danger to themselves and/or others. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have ERPO laws, and more states, including Virginia, are expected to pass ERPO this year. Evidence shows ERPO is effective at preventing gun violence, with research estimates showing that for every 10–20 orders issued, one life is saved. It is imperative that our elected officials pass these laws in every state.
3. In 2018, Black males ages 20–34 were 17 times more likely to die from firearm homicide than White males of the same age.
The disproportionate toll that gun violence takes on communities of color is unacceptable. Officials at all levels of government should commit to engaging communities of color in the policymaking process. They should commit to addressing firearm homicide by investing in and providing resources for violence intervention programs and funding to combat deep-rooted social inequities that contribute to gun violence.
Data informs everything we do. As we examine the unacceptable number of gun deaths in 2018, we know we have to continue our work at the state and federal levels. We know we have to continue engaging with impacted communities. We know we have to keep developing and advocating for evidence-based policies. We know we have to continue our firearm suicide prevention efforts. The data is sobering. It is daunting. But it illuminates our path forward — it is what inspires us to continue doing whatever it takes to save lives.