Gun violence exacts an enormous toll on Americans—claiming tens of thousands of lives each year. Weak gun laws and unfettered access to firearms have made it far too easy for people to take their own lives and the lives of others. Gun violence shapes the fabric of our society, traumatizing millions and imposing substantial financial burdens that we all share. The below statistics lay out the devastating scope of this uniquely American crisis.

100 Americans are killed with guns every day

Gun Violence Totals

The toll of American gun violence is horrific, and it is on the rise. Over 1.2 million Americans have been shot in the past decade,1 millions more have witnessed gun violence firsthand,2 and hundreds of millions—nearly every American—will know at least one victim of gun violence in their lifetime.3

  • 36,000 Americans are killed by guns each year—an average of 100 per day.4
  • 100,000 Americans are shot and injured each year.5
  • In 2017, gun deaths reached their highest level in at least 40 years, with 39,773 deaths that year alone.6
  • Gun deaths increased by 16% from 2014 to 2017.7

Explore our factsheets on gun laws and gun violence.

Each year 36,383 Americans die from gun violence

Gun Violence Breakdown

Gun violence takes numerous forms, contributing to suicides, homicides, unintentional deaths, and law enforcement killings, as well as serious injuries. Any effort to save lives must include solutions that address the unique aspects of each of these categories of gun violence.

  • Of the 36,383 Americans killed with guns each year,8 22,274 are gun suicides (61%), 12,830 are gun homicides (35%), 496 are law enforcement shootings (1.4%), and 487 are unintentional shootings (1.3%).9
  • On average, 100,000 Americans are wounded with guns each year,10 often with life-altering consequences.
  • Roughly three-quarters of nonfatal shootings are gun assaults. About a fifth are unintentional shootings. Very few nonfatal shootings are suicide attempts—less than 5%—and between 1 and 2% are shootings by law enforcement.11

View our factsheet on the various forms gun violence takes in American life.

The 10 states with the highest gun death rates have some of the weakest gun laws in the nation

Gun Violence State by State

While comprehensive efforts to enact safer gun laws have yet to succeed at the federal level, record numbers of states have taken bold action to save lives. As a result, gun violence rates vary widely from state to state.

  • On average, fewer people die from gun violence in states with strong gun laws and more people die in states with weak gun laws.12
  • Nationally, about 12 people are killed with guns for every 100,000 US residents.13
  • Alaska has the highest gun death rate among the states, as well as some of the weakest gun laws—nearly 25 people are killed with guns for every 100,000 residents.14
  • Hawaii has the lowest gun death rate and some of the strongest gun laws in the country. Comparatively, only two people are killed with guns for every 100,000 residents—less than one-tenth Alaska’s rate.15

Explore our Annual Gun Law Scorecard.

Americans are 25 times more likely to die of gun violence than residents of peer nations

Gun Violence Internationally

The United States has exceptionally high rates of gun violence, outpacing other high-income countries. America also has the weakest gun laws and the most guns—393 million—of any comparable nation.16

  • The United States accounts for just 4% of the world’s population but 35% of global firearm suicides and 9% of global firearm homicides.17
  • The US gun homicide rate is 25 times that of other high-income countries.18
  • The US gun suicide rate is 10 times that of other high-income countries.19
  • Women in the United States are 21 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other high-income countries.20

Check out Gun Law Trendwatch for the latest developments in American gun laws.

51% of suicides in America involve a firearm

Gun Suicide

The majority of gun deaths—two-thirds—are self-inflicted.21 The unique lethality of guns and the easy availability of firearms to those in distress make gun suicide attempts far more likely to result in death.

  • Guns are used in 51% of suicide deaths in America.22
  • Access to a gun triples the risk of suicide death.23 As such, gun suicides tend to concentrate in states with higher rates of firearm ownership and broad access to firearms.24
  • In many cases, suicide attempts are impulsive responses to acute crises. 90% of people who survive suicide attempts do not go on to die by suicide.25
  • Over the last 10 years, America’s gun suicide rate has risen steadily. 2017 saw both the highest rate and number of gun suicides in at least 40 years.26
  • Firearms are the most lethal of the commonly available means of suicide in the US: 85% of gun suicide attempts end in death, while less than 5% of non-firearm suicide attempts result in death.27

Read Confronting the Inevitability Myth, our comprehensive report on gun suicide.

Gun homicides have increased over 30% since 2014

Gun Homicide

The wide availability of guns in America makes it all too easy for conflicts to turn deadly. Gun homicides disproportionately impact communities of color in American cities, and efforts to prevent murders and curb firearm assaults must focus on interrupting these cycles of violence.

  • One-third of gun deaths are homicides, and guns are used in more than 70% of all homicides.28
  • For every person killed in a gun homicide, six more are injured in a gun assault.29
  • Gun homicides are on the rise, up 30% from 2014 to 2017.30
  • Access to a gun doubles the risk of homicide.31
  • Gun homicides are concentrated in cities, with roughly half of all gun homicides taking place in urban areas that contain just a quarter of the total US population.32

Read our report A Case Study in Hope: The Story of Oakland, to learn how one city dramatically reduced gun homicides.

4.6 million children live in homes where guns are unlocked and loaded

Unintentional Shootings

Millions of homes contain unsafely stored guns, and few states require safety training for handling firearms, contributing to unintentional shooting injuries and deaths, particularly among young people.

  • Unintentional shootings comprise 1.3% of gun deaths and 18% of gun injuries.33
  • The majority of unintentional shooting deaths involve people under 24, who are most often shot by someone else, usually someone their own age.34
  • Older adults are at a far lower risk of unintentional firearm death, and the majority of such deaths in adults are self-inflicted.35
  • Living in a home with a firearm significantly increases the risk of death by an unintentional gunshot injury.36

Learn more about how safe storage laws can help prevent unintentional shootings.

Unarmed black civilians are nearly five times more likely than unarmed white civilians to be shot and killed by police

Police Shootings

Shootings of civilians by police can erode community trust in law enforcement and fuel a destructive cycle of gun violence, particularly in the communities of color where police shootings disproportionately occur.37

  • A comprehensive database of police shootings finds that about 1,000 civilians are fatally shot by law enforcement each year—nearly twice as many as federal data sources report.38
  • Shootings by police occur more frequently in states with high rates of gun ownership.39
  • Unarmed black civilians are nearly five times more likely to be shot and killed by police than unarmed white civilians.40
  • The racial disparity in police shootings is not a reflection of increased crime in communities of color. Rather, police shooting disparities are amplified by residential segregation and the resulting racial biases.41

Check out our report A Case Study in Hope for more on how policing reforms can reduce shootings.

Black Americans are 10 times more likely than white Americans to be murdered with a gun

Urban Gun Violence

The gun violence epidemic hits underserved communities of color in American cities particularly hard. Shootings in these neighborhoods tend to be carried out by a small number of individuals, and several cities have succeeded in drastically reducing gun violence through strategic intervention programs.

  • Black men make up 52% of all gun homicide victims, despite comprising less than 7% of the US population.42
  • Black Americans are 10 times more likely than white Americans to die by gun homicide, and 14 times more likely than white Americans to be injured in a gun assault.43
  • Within cities, gun violence is clustered among racially segregated, economically disenfranchised neighborhoods.44 For example, in Boston, 53% of the city’s gun violence occurs in less than 3% of the city’s intersections and streets.45

Learn more about community violence intervention strategies.

1,500 children are killed with guns every year

Kids & Guns

Three million American children are directly exposed to gun violence each year, resulting in lasting trauma, psychological distress, and decreased potential. Young children are disproportionately victims of domestic violence–related shootings,46 while teens are at increased risk of gun suicide and community-based gun homicide.47

  • 1,500 children are shot and killed each year.48
  • Gun violence is the second-leading cause of death among children overall and the first-leading cause of death among black children.49
  • Black children are 10 times more likely to be killed in a gun homicide than white children.50

Read Protecting the Next Generation, our report on children and gun violence.

Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser has a firearm

Domestic Violence & Guns

For the millions of Americans affected by domestic violence every year, guns in the hands of domestic abusers pose a serious and lethal threat. Guns dangerously escalate domestic violence situations. Closing loopholes that allow stalkers and domestic violence misdemeanants to purchase and possess guns is essential to saving lives.

  • Every year, 600 American women are shot to death by intimate partners.51 Of all women murdered with a gun in the US, half are killed by their intimate partners.52
  • Nearly 1 million women alive today report being shot or shot at by an intimate partner,53 and 4.5 million women alive today report that an intimate partner threatened them using a gun.54
  • When an abuser has access to a gun, a domestic violence victim is five times more likely to be killed.55
  • Black women are twice as likely as white women to be fatally shot by an intimate partner.56

Learn more about domestic violence and firearms.

Six of the deadliest mass shootings happened in the past 10 years

Mass Shootings

A generation of children has grown up hiding under desks during active shooter drills. Americans of all ages have come to fear shootings at concerts, movie theaters, and churches. Firearms increasingly fuel hate- and bias-driven attacks. No other developed nation experiences mass shootings with the same terrifying frequency as the United States.  

  • On average, one mass shooting—defined as an event in which four or more people are killed or injured with a firearm—happens every day in the United States.57
  • Six of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in the United States have happened in the last 10 years.58
  • Despite the large place they occupy in our public consciousness, mass shootings comprise a small fraction of all gun violence, with estimates showing that such violence constitutes less than 1% of all gun deaths.59
  • In 2018, a student’s risk of dying in a school shooting reached its highest level in at least 25 years.60 60% of teens say they are worried about a shooting occurring at their school.61

Learn more in our report The Truth about School Shootings.

Gun violence costs $229 billion each year

Cost of Gun Violence

In addition to the devastating human toll gun violence exacts on Americans across the country, shootings have an outsized economic impact, including medical expenses, law enforcement and criminal justice costs, lost income, and pain and suffering. Much of this cost is borne by taxpayers.

  • Researchers estimate that gun violence costs the American economy at least $229 billion every year, including $8.6 billion in direct expenses.62
  • Gun violence costs each American roughly $700 every year.63
  • A recent study found that in Minneapolis just one fewer gun homicide was associated with the creation of 80 jobs.64

Browse our cost of gun violence factsheets and reports.

Notes
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal and Non-Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. ⤴︎
  2. See, e.g., Katherine Fowler, et al., “Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States,” Pediatrics 140, no. 1 (2017). ⤴︎
  3. Bindu Kalesan, Janice Weinberg, and Sandro Galea, “Gun Violence in Americans’ Social Network During Their Lifetime,” Preventive Medicine 93 (2016): 53–56. See also, K Parker, et al., “America’s Complex Relationship with Guns: An In-depth Look at the Attitudes and Experiences of U.S. Adults,” Pew Research Center’s Social & Democratic Trends Project, June 22, 2017,  https://pewrsr.ch/2txQZSP. ⤴︎
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.Figures represent an average of the five years of most recently available data: 2013 to 2017. ⤴︎
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Nonfatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. The CDC warns that its estimates of nonfatal firearm injuries may be “unstable and potentially unreliable.” To increase reliability of the data, a five-year average of the most recently available data (2013 to 2017) was used. ⤴︎
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. ⤴︎
  7. Id. ⤴︎
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Figures represent an average of the five years of most recently available data: 2013 to 2017. ⤴︎
  9. Id. ⤴︎
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Nonfatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Figure represents a five-year average of the a five-year average of the most recently available data (2013 to 2017). ⤴︎
  11. Id. ⤴︎
  12. See, e.g., Eric W. Fleegler, et al., “Firearm Legislation and Firearm–related Fatalities in the United States,” JAMA Internal Medicine 173, no. 9 (2013): 732–740. ⤴︎
  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Represents the 2017 gun death rate, the most recently available year of data. ⤴︎
  14. Id. ⤴︎
  15. Id. ⤴︎
  16. Aaron Karp, “Estimating Global Civilian–Held Firearms Numbers,” Small Arms Survey, June 2018, http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/T-Briefing-Papers/SAS-BP-Civilian-Firearms-Numbers.pdf. ⤴︎
  17. Mohsen Naghavi, et al., “Global Mortality from Firearms, 1990–2016,” JAMA 320, no. 8 (2018): 792–814. ⤴︎
  18. Erin Grinshteyn and David Hemenway, “Violent Death Rates in the US Compared to Those of the Other High-Income Countries, 2015,” Preventive Medicine 123, (2019): 20–26. ⤴︎
  19. Id. ⤴︎
  20. Id. ⤴︎
  21. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations were based on five years of most recently available data: 2013 to 2017. ⤴︎
  22. Id. ⤴︎
  23. Andrew Anglemyer, Tara Horvath, and George Rutherford, “The Accessibility of Firearms and Risk for Suicide and Homicide Victimization among Household Members: A Systematic Review and Meta–analysis,” Annals of Internal Medicine 160, no. 2 (2014): 101–110. ⤴︎
  24. April Opoliner, et al., “Explaining Geographic Patterns of Suicide in the US: The Role of Firearms and Antidepressants,” Injury Epidemiology 1, no. 1 (2014). ⤴︎
  25. David Owens, Judith Horrocks, and Allan House, “Fatal and Non–fatal Repetition of Self–harm: Systematic Review,” The British Journal of Psychiatry 181, no. 3 (2002): 193–199. ⤴︎
  26. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. ⤴︎
  27. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal and Non-fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations were based on five years of most recently available data: 2013 to 2017. See also, Matthew Miller, Deborah Azrael, and Catherine Barber, “Suicide Mortality in the United States: The Importance of Attending to Method in Understanding Population–Level Disparities in the Burden of Suicide,” Annual Review of Public Health 33 (2012): 393–408. ⤴︎
  28. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations were based on five years of most recently available data: 2013 to 2017. ⤴︎
  29. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal and Nonfatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations were based on five years of most recently available data: 2013 to 2017. ⤴︎
  30. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. ⤴︎
  31. Andrew Anglemyer, Tara Horvath, and George Rutherford, “The Accessibility of Firearms and Risk for Suicide and Homicide Victimization among Household Members: A Systematic Review and Meta–Analysis,” Annals of Internal Medicine 160, no. 2 (2014): 101–110. ⤴︎
  32. Aliza Aufrichtig, Lois Beckett, Jan Diehm, and Jamiles Lartey, “Want to Fix Gun Violence in America? Go Local,” The Guardian, January 9, 2017. https://bit.ly/2i6kaKw. ⤴︎
  33. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal and Nonfatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations were based on five years of the most recently available data: 2013 to 2017. ⤴︎
  34. David Hemenway, Catherine Barber, and Matthew Miller, “Unintentional Firearm Deaths: a Comparison of Other–Inflicted and Self–Inflicted Shootings,” Accident Analysis & Prevention 42, no. 4 (2010): 1184–1188. ⤴︎
  35. Id. ⤴︎
  36. Douglas J. Wiebe, “Firearms in US Homes as a Risk Factor for Unintentional Gunshot Fatality,” Accident Analysis & Prevention 35, no. 5 (2003): 711–716. ⤴︎
  37. Olivia Li, “The Vicious Cycle of Everyday Gun Violence and Eroding Police Relations,” The Trace, July 22, 2016, https://www.thetrace.org/2016/07/vicious-cycle-everyday-gun-violence-police-misconduct/. ⤴︎
  38. “Fatal Force Police Shooting Database,” Washington Post, last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://wapo.st/2QlEZOo. ⤴︎
  39. David Hemenway, Deborah Azrael, Andrew Conner, and Matthew Miller, “Variation in Rates of Fatal Police Shootings Across US States: the Role of Firearm Availability,” Journal of Urban Health (2018): 1–11. ⤴︎
  40. Aldina Mesic, et al., “The Relationship between Structural Racism and Black-white Disparities in Fatal Police Shootings at the State Level,” Journal of the National Medical Association 110, no. 2 (2018): 106–116. ⤴︎
  41. Id. ⤴︎
  42. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations were based on five years of the most recently available data: 2013 to 2017. ⤴︎
  43. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal and Non-fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations were based on five years of the most recently available data: 2013 to 2017. ⤴︎
  44. Aliza Aufrichtig, Lois Beckett, Jan Diehm, and Jamiles Lartey, “Want to Fix Gun Violence in America? Go Local,” The Guardian, January 9, 2017. https://bit.ly/2i6kaKw. ⤴︎
  45. Anthony A. Braga, Andrew V. Papachristos, and David M. Hureau, “The Concentration and Stability of Gun Violence at Micro Places in Boston, 1980–2008,” Journal of Quantitative Criminology 26, no. 1 (2010): 33–53. ⤴︎
  46. Katherine Fowler, et al., “Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States,” Pediatrics 140, no. 1 (2017). ⤴︎
  47. Id. ⤴︎
  48. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations include children ages 0–17 and were based on the most recently available data: 2013 to 2017. ⤴︎
  49. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations include children ages 0–17 and were based on the most recent available data: 2017. ⤴︎
  50. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed Feb. 20, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars. Calculations include children ages 0–17 and were based on five years of the most recently available data: 2013 to 2017. ⤴︎
  51. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reporting Program: Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR), 2012–16. ⤴︎
  52. Id. ⤴︎
  53. Susan B. Sorenson and Rebecca A. Schut, “Nonfatal Gun Use in Intimate Partner Violence: A Systematic Review of the Literature,” Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 19, no. 4 (2018): 431–442. ⤴︎
  54. Id. ⤴︎
  55. JC Campbell, et al., “Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multisite Case Control Study,” American Journal of Public Health 93, no.7 (2003): 1089–1097. ⤴︎
  56. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reporting Program: Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR), 2012–16. ⤴︎
  57. “Mass Shootings,” Gun Violence Archive, https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/mass-shooting. Calculations were based on the five most recent years of available data (2014-2018). ⤴︎
  58. See “America’s Gun Culture in 10 Charts,” BBC News, October 27, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081. ⤴︎
  59. Garen J. Wintemute, “What You Can do to Stop Firearm Violence,” Annals of Internal Medicine 167, no. 12 (2017): 886–887. ⤴︎
  60. Kristin M. Holland, et al., “Characteristics of School-Associated Youth Homicides — United States, 1994–2018,” CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 68, no. 3 (2019): 53–60. ⤴︎
  61. Nikki Graf, “A Majority of US Teens Fear a Shooting Could Happen at Their School, and Most Parents Share Their Concern,” Pew Research Center, April 18, 2018, https://pewrsr.ch/2w8yl6D. See also, Stephen Wu, et al., “2013 Hamilton College Youth Poll: Attitudes Towards Gun Control and School Violence,” Knowledge Networks and Hamilton College, December 2013, https://www.hamilton.edu/news/polls/gun-control-and-school-violence. ⤴︎
  62. Mark Follman, Julia Lurie, Jaeah Lee, and James West, “The True Cost of Gun Violence in America,” Mother Jones, April 15, 2015, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/true-cost-of-gun-violence-in-america/. ⤴︎
  63. Id. ⤴︎
  64. Yasemin Irvin-Erickson, et al., “The Effect of Gun Violence on Local Economies: Gun Violence, Business, and Employment Trends in Minneapolis, Oakland, and Washington, DC,” Urban Institute, Nov. 2016, http://www.urban.org/research/publication/effect-gun-violence-local-economies/view/full_report. ⤴︎