America’s Deadly Gun Addiction, By the Numbers
Aurora. Newtown. San Bernardino. And now Kalamazoo. Mass shootings have become sickeningly routine in the US, each resulting in outpourings of grief and calls for more robust gun control—countered by arguments that the problem is everything but the guns. However, the data is irrefutable: The US is home to more firearms than adults; more people own guns here than in any other nation; and the US is also host to more gun deaths per capita than any other advanced country. In January, President Obama stood before the nation, wiping away tears, and pledged to increase the number of background checks. It’s proven: Laws help, as evidenced by lower rates of gun deaths in states with stricter firearm laws. The gun lobby begs to differ, though, and every background check in the world can’t ensure that a nine millimeter passed down through generations won’t prematurely end someone’s life. Here’s the shocking data behind America’s problem with gun violence.
1. USA Is #1 in Civilian Gun Owners
Civilians own three-quarters of the world’s firearms, and Americans have more than anybody else.
2. But Despite That—and an Endless Gun Supply—US Firearm Deaths Remain Flat
The number of new firearms available in the US has more than tripled in the past 15 years. In 2013, US companies manufactured almost 11 million guns. About 4 percent were exported, while 5.5 million firearms were imported from Austria and other countries. Firearms are considered durable goods, and a gun produced 70 years ago will generally function as well as one made yesterday. But that glut of weaponry has not resulted in a subsequent spike in gun deaths.
4. And an Increasing Amount of Those US Fatalities Are From Mass Shootings
Gun massacres are nothing new in the US, but the frequency and deadliness have skyrocketed over the past five years.
5. Don’t Despair, Gun Laws Can Save Lives
Firearm laws vary considerably from state to state, and in those with weak restrictions, more people per capita die by gunshot.
6. However, Laws Have Their Limits
According to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, about 40 percent of recent firearm transfers weren’t subject to background checks. Obama’s new executive order aims to expand that system to reach the loosely regulated channels by which guns change hands.
7. And Support for Gun Control Is Waning
Despite a dramatic increase in the number of mass shootings over the past few years, fewer Americans support gun control.
8. So We Just Keep Talking About It
Twitter chatter spikes on cue whenever mass shootings occur, according to data from social media analytics firm Networked Insights.
9. And We Use Provocative Terms That Highlight the Divide
When people head to social media to talk about firearms, the controversial Second Amendment is the most popular topic.