Facts about gun violence in the United States that nobody asked for but I literally research and study this shit for a living (and I have obtained my certificate regarding this topic from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research) so I’m gonna tell y’all anyway:
First things first, whether talking about gun-related mortality, the bulk of which is suicides, or talking about morbidity, where three-quarters of non-fatal gun violence treated in hospitals are assaults: It's important to recognize that the public health impacts of gun violence go far beyond the deaths and injuries that are easier to track. They have profound impact, with respect to psychological trauma, and the fear that permeates throughout our society. Included in this post will be an abundance of sources that the course I took at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research had provided me. These sources cover such topics as:
Guns and gun violence in America;
Legal issues relevant to preventing gun violence;
Evidence-based policies to prevent gun violence;
Guns in public places, schools, and homes;
Regulation gun design, enforcing gun laws, and reducing police-involved shootings, and;
Community and clinical interventions to prevent gun violence and public support for gun policy.
Gun freaks (not to be confused with regular ol gun owners), who are extremely hypersensitive and obviously love to lurk in tags related to gun violence and gun control just so they can dogpile on someone who is raising awareness about this issue, will inevitably find this post and decide to start their shit (after skimming the post for .2 seconds because their brains literally cannot function well enough to get past the introduction of this post and check out some of the many sources that I have provided that cover a whole spectrum of issues regarding guns and gun violence, not just gun control). This is despite the fact that I am a gun owner myself, and the fact that I am raising awareness about the psychology and data behind gun violence — not the politics behind gun violence — which obviously triggers you fucktards to spiral into literal insanity by the mere mention of “g*n v**l*nc*”. In that case, my message to them is to, well, get well soon, and stop being intimidated by some 21 year old chick on tumblr who researches mass shootings and gun violence for a living, because honestly, that’s fucking embarrassing — especially considering how many of y’all are grown ass men who own 900 firearms to defend yourselves not against criminals — but against psychology and criminal justice and public safety majors who literally conduct their research at the most respected and notable schools in the western world x
Nearly 40,000 people die yearly due to gun violence.
Information regarding defensive gun use by civilians comes from the National Crime Victimization Survey, NCVS. David Hemingway and his team examined the data from the period of 2007-2011, and one of the things that they determined is that just under one percent of all crimes against person or violent crimes, the victim here used, or attempted to use, a gun in self-defense.
Victims attempting to use a gun in self-defense are injured just as often as those who do not use a gun; 4% of the victims of a violent crime were injured while or after attempting to use a gun in self-defense, the same as those who did not use a gun in self-defense. Overall, it was concluded that there was no great advantage given to individuals who reported that they used a gun in self-defense.
Aside from how frequently individuals report using a gun in some defensive manner, the question remains as to whether or not those actions were actually legally justifiable uses of guns.
Harvard researchers conducted a survey in which they questioned 5,000 gun owners across the United States, and that they had published in the year 2000. After they had asked detailed questions from respondents who reported defensive gun use, collected data which contained information of what transpired - alongside the justification that was offered by the respondents - this information was then handed over to judges who saw criminal cases (to which these judges were asked to determine whether or not those self-ascribed acts of gun use were actually legally justified). What they found was that only 43 percent of the defense of gun uses were legally justified in the eyes of these judges.
The most common source of guns used in crime are obtained from friends and family. 15% of criminals obtain their guns this way. However, almost every gun used in a crime was originally manufactured and sold legally. This is not a good look for those who claim that most gun-related crimes are committed only by criminals who obtain their firearms through illegal methods lmfao.
Other means for criminals to obtain firearms illegally include:
Private transactions in which the private gun owner is not following laws and they are selling guns to prohibited people in a variety of ways that might make connections with them, be that at gun shows or any other venue. These unregulated private sellers, who are individuals that are selling fairly large numbers of guns, either at these aforementioned gun shows or online, are really required to have a license and to keep records and to do background checks. They account for 27% of investigations by the ATF. They are actually the second most common in terms of the number of guns that are diverted for criminal use.
There's also something referred to as straw purchases. This is when a prohibited person, such as a convicted felon, will ask someone to buy a gun on their behalf, and sometimes they will actually accompany them into a gun shop to identify the gun. The "straw purchaser", however, puts the gun in their name so that the background check is passed.
Another way that guns are diverted is through theft, either from retail sellers or from private citizens. A study published in 2017 by David Hemenway and his colleagues examined this phenomenon in a large national survey, where they estimated that there are approximately a quarter of a million incidences of firearms being stolen from civilians. When observing the number of guns that are stolen in these incidents, it's in the range of about 380,000 firearm stolen per year. An important finding from this research was that the majority of guns stolen in the United States come from Southern states and the south-central part of the United States. Regarding the country as a whole, these states account for 37% of all households with guns, and 43% of all gun owners - accounting for two-thirds of all guns stolen in the United States. The researchers also examined among gun owning households what factors were associated with having their firearms stolen. The factor that were most strongly related to having a gun stolen was owning a lot of guns. In this case, six or more guns owned was correlated with higher risk of theft. Other factors were that the purpose for acquiring the gun was for personal protection, which may suggest how they may store their firearms more readily accessible. Another important factor that was correlated with gun theft was gun carrying practices. If you frequently carried your guns in public places, you're more likely to have them stolen.
There's also different scales of diversion. The larger scale endeavors are essentially when individual(s) are in the business of moving guns from the legal to the illegal market to gangs and other criminals, using trafficking operations that might span over a number of states, most typically moving guns from states with relatively weak laws to states with relatively strict gun laws.
A study was just published in 2019 that gathered data from a representative sample of inmates and state and federal prisons in the year 2016. This survey asked those who have offended with firearms how they acquired the guns they had used to commit the crime that landed them in prison. What was found was that it was through a direct and legal purchase by the offender themselves, accounting for 10% of the acquisitions, 15% came from a purchase or some other transaction from someone close to them like a family member or a friend, another 11% was acquired through someone buying or giving the firearm to the offender.
The most common category is the "underground gun market". The "underground gun market" could mean many things: traffickers coming across state lines, someone who just stole a gun from a parked motor vehicle, or someone who's selling it on the street.
A large majority of individuals claim that they are (legally) purchasing guns principally for either personal or home protection; 67% reporting that was their main reason for acquiring a gun. Hunting and sporting were also common reasons for wanting a gun or acquiring a gun. Among those who own only one gun, 62% of those guns are a handgun, some form of a pistol, or a revolver; compared to 22% being rifles while 16% being shotguns.
Two-thirds of all gun owners have more than one gun, 29% of gun owners having five or more guns. In these households, handguns and pistols are more common than long guns.
The problem of gun violence is often thought of as merely criminal behavior, but an important aspect of gun violence is anger and impulsivity. In a study published by Jeffrey Swanson from Duke University, he found in the National Survey that nine percent of adults in the United States have a history of impulsive angry behavior outburst and also have firearms. In this study, Swanson found that there was an association between this problem with impulsive angry behavior and having access to guns both in the home, but also in practices of carrying guns outside the home.
If you look at this issue even among gun owners themselves, there was also an important distinction. The researchers found that those who owned six or more guns were four times more likely to carry a gun and report impulsive angry behavior than gun owners who only had one gun.
States with higher gun ownership have higher rates of firearm suicide, without higher rates in suicide by other methods. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that the presence of a firearm in the home increases the risk of homicide as well was suicide.
Suicides make up the majority of gun deaths in America (60%) while firearm-related homicides make up 37%. Suicide by gun is considered a form of ‘gun violence’.
Unintentional shootings, conversely, are usually not lethal. So in debates about the importance of unintentional firearm shootings, only focusing on the deaths makes it seem like a very small portion, but they account for almost one in five injuries that are treated in hospitals.
It is also noteworthy that there is an additional category of gun violence in which the offender is unknown, known as unsolved murders, where almost 90% involve firearms. This is typically most likely a phenomenon of gang-related violence, in which these murders can be very difficult for police to solve for a range of reasons. This is also important in thinking about the prevention of gun violence.
In regards to homicides and suicides, males have far greater rates than do females, both with regards to victimization as well as offending. This is due to the fact that men tend to own guns at almost twice the rate of women, 39% of men vs 22% of women owning guns personally. Unsurprisingly, 90% of the offenders of firearm-related homicides are male, and nearly 90% of firearm-related suicides are male.
Females had a notably higher risk for being killed in a homicide when they lived in a home with a gun, and the risk was most elevated, in this case, by 7.8x above the non-gun owning household when the victim and suspect were intimate partners. This underscores that much of the risks connected to guns in the home really is a domestic violence risk.
Another study conducted by Kellerman and colleagues found that the vast majority of time (77%), the victim of a gun-related homicide and the offender knew one another. They were often living under the same roof. In other cases, they were a friend or acquaintance. Only 3.7% of the time was the assailant a stranger to the victim. This is especially important to note when we think about risk within the home. Commonly we might think about someone breaking into our house, but a lot of times the most violence occurs not when people break in, but when there's conflict within the home between those who live together or who might be visiting. After controlling for these other risk factors, Kellerman and colleagues found that having a gun in the home was associated with a 2.7x increase in homicide risk after you control for these other factors.
Also notable is the much higher rates for blacks to be victims of fire-arm related assaults - rather than the perpetrators - compared to whites, with Native Americans being somewhat higher in victimization for homicides than both blacks and whites. Regarding suicides, however, whites have the highest rates of suicides, followed by Native Americans.
Much of these differences between races are explained by social and economic disadvantages that are driven specifically by public policies, like housing, as well as differences in the number of professional people in positions of professional employment.
Sources regarding the facts and data that I have provided, as well as additional sources regarding gun violence in general:
America’s Complex Relationship With Guns
Gun use in the United States: results from two national surveys.
Family Firearm Ownership and Firearm-Related Mortality Among Young Children.
Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home.
Suicide in the home in relation to gun ownership.
The accessibility of firearms and risk for suicide and homicide victimization among household members: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Lethal means restriction for suicide prevention: Beliefs and behaviors of emergency department providers.
Interpreting the empirical evidence on illegal gun market dynamics.
The association between the purchase of a handgun and homicide or suicide.
Gun storage practices and risk of youth suicide and unintentional firearm injuries.
Gun use in the United States: Results from two national surveys.
Whose guns are stolen? the epidemiology of gun theft victims.
The epidemiology of self-defense gun use: Evidence from the national crime victimization surveys 2007–2011.
Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home.
State-level homicide victimization rates in the US in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership.
Guns, impulsive angry behavior, and mental disorders: Results from the national comorbidity survey replication.
Comprehensive background check policy and firearm background checks in three US states.
The prevalence of alcohol-involved homicide offending.
The relationship between controlled substances and violence.
Firearm acquisition without background checks: Results of a national survey.
Temporal association between federal gun laws and the diversion of guns to criminals in milwaukee.
Prior misdemeanor convictions as a risk factor for later violent and firearm-related criminal activity among authorized purchasers of handguns.
Weapons of choice: Previous criminal history, later criminal activity, and firearm preference among legally authorized young adult purchasers of handguns.
Analysis of the strength of legal firearms restrictions for perpetrators of domestic violence and their associations with intimate partner homicide.
Temporal association between federal gun laws and the diversion of guns to criminals in Milwaukee.
Effects of state-level firearm seller accountability policies on firearm trafficking.
Guns, impulsive angry behavior, and mental disorders: Results from the national comorbidity survey replication.
Redirecting the mental health and gun violence conversation from mass shootings to suicide.
Prison Policy Initiative. Indicators of mental health problems reported by prisoners & jail inmates.
"A disease like any other"? A decade of change in public reactions to schizophrenia, depression, and alcohol dependence.
Repeal of comprehensive background check policies and firearm homicide and suicide.
Prohibition of persons with mental illness from gun ownership under tyler.
Handgun legislation and changes in statewide overall suicide rates.
Perpetration of violence, violent victimization, and severe mental illness: Balancing public health concerns.
Guns, public health, and mental illness: An evidence-based approach for state policy.
Firearms removal/retrieval in cases of domestic violence.
Response of school personnel to student threat assessment training.
The distinction between transient and substantive student threats.
A randomized controlled study of the Virginia student threat assessment guidelines in kindergarten through grade 12.
Guidelines for student threat assessment: Field-test findings.
Student threat assessment as a method of reducing student suspensions.
Student threat assessment as a standard school safety practice: Results from a statewide implementation study.
Racial/ethnic parity in disciplinary consequences using student threat assessment.
Help seeking for mental health on college campuses: Review of evidence and next steps for research and practice.
Mental health service utilization among college students in the United States.
Attitudes and beliefs about treatment among college students with untreated mental health problems.
Student threat assessment in Memphis city schools: A descriptive report.
Student threat assessment associated with safety in middle schools.
Prevalence and offense characteristics of multiple casualty homicides: Are schools at higher risk than other locations?
Rate, relative risk, and method of suicide by students at 4-year colleges and universities in the United States.
Threats of violence by students in special education.
Association between youth-focused firearm laws and youth suicides.
Where killings go unsolved.
Identifying armed respondents to domestic violence restraining orders and recovering their firearms: Process evaluation of an initiative in california.
Deterrence, firearm arrests, and subsequent shootings: A micro-level spatio-temporal analysis.
The impact of police stops on precinct robbery and burglary rates in New York City.
Impact of handgun types on gun assault outcomes: A comparison of gun assaults involving semiautomatic pistols and revolvers.
Criminal use of assault weapons and high-capacity semiautomatic firearms: An updated examination of local and national sources.
An updated assessment of the federal assault weapons ban.
Police strategies to reduce illegal possession and carrying of firearms: Effects on gun crime.
Crime gun risk factors: Buyer, seller, firearm, and transaction characteristics associated with gun trafficking and criminal gun use.
Aggressive policing and the mental health of young urban men.
Changes in US mass shooting deaths associated with the 1994-2004 federal assault weapons ban: Analysis of open-source data.
Comprehensive background check policy and firearm background checks in three US states. Injury Prevention.
Reducing suicides through partnerships between health professionals and gun owner Groups—Beyond docs vs glocks.
Two years after Newtown—public opinion on gun policy revisited.
After Newtown — public opinion on gun policy and mental illness.
Public support for gun violence prevention policies among gun owners and Non–Gun owners in 2017.
Physician counseling on firearm safety: A new kind of cultural competence.
The duration of the suicidal process: How much time is left for intervention between consideration and accomplishment of a suicide attempt?
Restricting access to methods of suicide.
Firearms and suicide in the united states: Is risk independent of underlying suicidal behavior?
Household firearm ownership and suicide rates in the united states.
Firearm storage practices and rates of unintentional firearm deaths in the united states.
Household firearm ownership and rates of suicide across the 50 united states.
Fatal and non-fatal repetition of self-harm: Systematic review.
Clinician attitudes, screening practices, and interventions to reduce firearm-related injury.
A suicide prevention campaign for firearm dealers in new hampshire.
GSS Data Explorer
Gun Violence Archive
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