More than 33,000 people in the U.S. die from gunshots each year. That’s 90 per day.
Two-thirds of these are suicides, which skew white and older—and male.
Those murdered, on the other hand, skew young and black—and male.
Only in mass shootings, as in Las Vegas, are 50% of the victims women.
And mass shootings aren’t a particularly big problem, compared to the whole. The 59 deaths in Las Vegas are less than a full “regular” day. But mass shootings get more media coverage, not least because in most cases, the victims are all blameless; they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Here’s another fact.
Roughly 40,200 people died in car crashes in the U.S. last year, or more than 110 per day. That was an increase of 6% from the year before, almost certainly due to people trying to drive and use their cell phones at the same time.
Happily, a solution to that problem is evolving, as self-driving cars become increasingly capable.
But where is the solution to our gun problem?
Do we have a problem at all?
We certainly have a lot of guns. In fact, we have more guns per person—1.2—than any other country in the world. (Right behind us on the list are Serbia with .76, Cyprus with .36 and Uruguay with .32.)
With 5% of the world’s population, U.S. residents own roughly 50% of the world’s civilian-owned firearms.
But we are far from the highest in the rate of deaths by firearms. In fact, we’re eleventh, trailing Honduras, Venezuela, El Salvador, Swaziland, Guatemala, Jamaica, Colombia, Brazil, Panama, and Uruguay. Still, eleventh is a pretty rotten position, especially considering the fact that we are one of the richest and most developed countries in the world.
The firearms-related death rate is lower in Nicaragua, Serbia, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe. Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan and Mexico, to name a few.
So yes, the numbers say that we do have a problem.
And the chart shows that the problem is greatest in rural states, where residents tend to have more guns…
…and where politicians are most likely to defend the rights of citizens to own guns.
In part, this is natural, a remnant of our Wild West culture. Some people still need to carry guns to defend themselves from wild animals.
But I believe there are too many guns in our country, and too many guns in the hands of unstable people.
I believe that eventually this will change; the frontier mentality will slowly change.
But it will take time, and the road to change leads through our politicians and the National Rifle Association, which in my mind has been an accomplice to all these firearms-related deaths.