The Actual Rate Of U.S. Gun Violence Will Astound You!

Marcus Quigmire / Wikicommons / CC2.0

With all the violence we have thrown in our faces in a never-ending news cycle that hits us from every point imaginable thanks to the information age, it’s hard to believe that overall gun violence in the United States is DOWN since a 1993 report.

“Firearm-related homicides dropped from 18,253 homicides in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011,” according to a report by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, “and nonfatal firearm crimes dropped from 1.5 million victimizations in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.

To compare, there were 7 gun-related homicides per 100,000 people in the United States since 1993 according to Pew Research Center and that’s been cut in nearly half as of 2010, down to 3.6 gun deaths.

“Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49 percent lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew,” according to the Pew study. “The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75 percent lower in 2011 than in 1993.”

So here’s the rub… this is another post about mass shootings. They are rare but they capture the public’s attention unlike any other death in the United States… they are tragic and stupid and it sucks that they happen in the first place but “big picture” they’re a drop in the bucket compared to the death rate with guns in the US — which has been dropping.

Gun crimes peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s… with PEW noting that suicide by gun hasn’t fallen that much.

“Looking at the larger topic of firearm deaths, there were 31,672 deaths from guns in the U.S. in 2010,” according to the Pew Center study. “Most (19,392) were suicides; the gun suicide rate has been higher than the gun homicide rate since at least 1981, and the gap is wider than it was in 1981.”

The federal report included data about where criminals had acquired their weapons.

“In 2004 (the most recent year of data available), among state prison inmates who possessed a gun at the time of the offense, fewer than two percent bought their firearm at a flea market or gun show,” according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. “About 10 percent of state prison inmates said they purchased it from a retail store or pawnshop, 37 percent obtained it from family or friends, and another 40 percent obtained it from an illegal source.”