Gun Violence in the U.S.

By Reagan Belhorn

Recently, in the United States, gun violence has become a prominent issue. The CDC reports that in the U.S. in 2014, there were 10,945 firearm homicides out of a total of 15,809 homicides. On the other hand, according to the CDC, there were also 21,334 firearm suicides. In 2011, 70% of homicides in Ohio were firearm homicides. Due to the controversy relating to gun laws lately, many different statistics and facts from both sides have been touted. As this issue is prominent in society, especially politics, it is is important to know the facts because the reality is that the statistics are worsening and cannot be ignored.

Because of the controversy relating to gun laws in the United States, it’s easy to get lost in between the words of both pro and anti gun activists. Knowing the facts and statistics are more important than ever, and how any change on this topic could affect whole communities both positively and negatively.

Four types of incidents to consider are mass shootings, accidental shootings, firearm homicides, and firearm suicides.

Mass Shootings – Under the FBI definition of mass murder, mass shootings can be characterized by 3 or more people killed in a single event.

Firearm Homicides – The intentional killing of one person by another.
Firearm Suicides – A person killing themselves with a firearm.
Accidental Shootings – Guns fired without purpose, can result in death or injury.

Mass Shootings

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 334 mass shootings in 2016 in the U.S. as of November 10, 2016.

Firearm Murders Compared to Other Murders (2011)


Firearm murders compared to other methods of murder from 2011. (Data courtesy of the Guardian) 

As seen, 67.8% or 8,583 of a total of 12,664 murders in 2011 were committed with firearms.

Firearm Homicides Compared to Other Homicides (2014)

Firearm homicides out of total homicides. (Data courtesy of the CDC) 

As shown in the pie chart, 69.2% (or 10,945) of all the homicides of 2014 were committed with firearms.

In both visuals, firearms were the main method of murder and homicide. As one wonders how this could be, the answer is clear. As firearms are deeply rooted in conservative American culture, they appear quite prominently almost everywhere. Both homicides and murder are defined as one person killing another with unlawful intent. This means that each of these deaths were premeditated, and because firearms can be so easily accessed in some parts of the country, then the simple answer is that a firearm was the easiest and most accessible way to kill someone.

Accidental Shootings

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 1,813 accidental shootings in 2016 in the U.S. as of November 10, 2016.

Firearm Suicides Compared to Other Suicides (2014)

Number of suicides committed with firearms compared to other methods. (Data courtesy of the CDC) 

Almost half of suicides in 2014 were committed with firearms. As mentioned before, because firearms are so accessible, it’s easier to impulsively grab a firearm and commit suicide without a real plan to it. A firearm suicide is more deadly because it happens so quickly and directly, that there is a lower chance of survival.

As the statistics are presented yearly, there are no improvements, which is why anti-gun advocates demand for gun reform; but pro-gun advocates say that there is no need for change because they believe that people will simply break reform laws to get guns. It’s necessary to know what could be causing these deaths Could it be the excessive opportunities to obtain a firearm, lack of knowledge about firearm safety, or is there just a deeper issue with the people of the U.S?

Although, as statistics for the country as a whole are analyzed, it’s important to look at each state and their own statistics.

Deaths Per State (2014)

Number of gun deaths per state in 2014. Data courtesy of the CDC.

The bar graph of the states and their deaths from 2014 shows that California along with Texas have the most deaths, and Hawaii with Rhode Island have the least deaths. In California, the gun laws require registration of the firearm and a permit to purchase whereas in Texas, there are no requirements – no background checks, permits to purchase, or registration. In Hawaii, a permit is needed to purchase a firearm and the firearm must be registered,  but Rhode Island has no requirements other than an 7 day waiting period.

As the United States focuses on gun violence, it’s important to zoom in on each community and understand their desires. In a localized survey that gained 443 responses from UAHS students, 294 of these students reported that they believed that gun reform in the U.S is necessary, and 339 students believe that school shootings is something that should be addressed at UAHS. Insight in what a community believes in is vital in order to secure it physically and emotionally.

UAHS Responses – Do you feel as if gun violence in the U.S. is an issue that should be addressed?

Percentage of UAHS students who believe gun violence should be addressed in the U.S. compared to others who don’t.

The majority (86.2%) of UAHS students who were surveyed believe that gun violence is an issue to be addressed.

UAHS Responses – Do you personally know of a UA student who has access to gun(s)?

Percentage of UAHS students who know another student with access to guns.

More than half students know someone with access to guns and there’s always the worrying potential for somebody with access to a gun to abuse these conditions.

UAHS Responses – Do you personally know of a UA student at risk of being harmed by a gun?

Percentages of UAHS students who possibly or know of someone who may be harmed by a gun compared to others who don’t.

UAHS Responses – Do you personally know of a UA student at risk of harming others with a gun?

Percentage of UAHS students who know or possibly know of someone at risk of shooting others compared to others who don’t.

As shown in the first visual, 47 students who were surveyed know another student at risk of being harmed by a gun. In the second visual, 54 students who were surveyed know someone at risk of harming others with a gun. Even though these numbers aren’t overwhelming, they’re still very real but scary things to think about.

Alarmingly enough, the students who reported knowing someone at risk of harming others with a gun are the same ones who said that they felt that a school shooting is highly likely to occur at the school in response another survey question.

UAHS Responses – Do you think the U.S. should follow the lead of other countries—such as the UK, Japan and Australia—in banning guns?

Percentages of UAHS students’ different opinions on gun reform. 

The pie chart represents different opinions but in total, there are 256 students out of 442 students who believe that guns should be banned in some shape or form, wether it is practical or not.

237 students believe that UAHS should implement more safety measures to protect the students and staff. There were several common answers, which included the following: metal detectors, more officers, more frequent locker and backpack checks, intervening with at risk kids, and having open and honest discussions on this topic without “sugar coated language,” as one student states.

A concern that has appeared in the results of the survey is the fact that students are aware of someone at risk of being hurt or hurting others with a gun. Though the numbers weren’t overly threatening, every risk is a potential threat to the safety of the community.

For change to happen, it’s important to understand the full facts and numbers and both sides of the argument. The United States needs to understand both sides of the argument and realize that any and every decision on this topic will affect whole communities.