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10 facts about guns in America

Firearm ownership and violence in the U.S.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Dec 20, 2012 8:50PM

Right now, more than ever, gun control is a hot topic. The powerful gun lobby is once again at odds with reputable polls that indicate Americans believe in limits on gun use, reports The New York Times.

As both sides argue over the meaning of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed," let's take a look at some of the facts surrounding gun ownership and violence in the U.S.

Violence in the U.S.

Kieran Healy, a sociologist at Duke University, made this graph of “deaths due to assault” in the United States and other developed countries.

As Healy writes, “The most striking features of the data are (1) how much more violent the U.S. is than other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries (except possibly Estonia and Mexico, not shown here), and (2) the degree of change—and recently, decline—there has been in the U.S. time series considered by itself.”

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images/Getty ImagesGun ownership in U.S.

Gallup’s October 2011 report finds that 47 percent of Americans reported that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. This is up from 41 percent a year ago and is the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993.

A separate survey (General Social Survey) by NORC at the University of Chicago indicates that the percentage of gun-owning households has fallen since 2004 to 32 percent in 2010. The survey indicates at least 1.8 firearms per household, or at least 70 million in households nationwide.

Meanwhile, a 2004 study done by the Harvard School of Public Health, estimates 260 to 300 million guns in civilian hands in the U.S.

Private-party gun sales

Perhaps 40 percent of all gun sales nationwide – roughly 6.6 million transactions in 2008 – are made by private parties, reports The New England Journal of Medicine. Moreover, private parties can sell handguns to anyone 18 years of age or older; licensed retailers cannot sell handguns to anyone under 21 years of age.

Gunshot wounds

More than 200 people go to U.S. emergency rooms every day with gunshot wounds, Garen Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis.

Guns in the home

Living in a home where there are guns increases the risk of homicide by 40 to 170 percent and the risk of suicide by 90 to 460 percent.

More on MSN Living: A global view on American gun violence

Decrease in murder rate

Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore. Homicides may be up this year, though the murder rate from 2006 to 2011 fell 19 percent, to 4.7 for every 100,000 people

Guns will out-kill car fatalities by 2015

Guns and cars have long been among the leading causes of non-medical deaths in the U.S. By 2015, firearm fatalities will probably exceed traffic fatalities for the first time, based on data compiled by Bloomberg. Shooting deaths in 2015 will probably rise to almost 33,000, and those related to autos will decline to about 32,000, based on the 10-year average trend, reports Bloomberg.

15 of the 25 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the United States.

Time has the full list here. In second place is Finland, with two entries.

More on MSN Living: Newtown to the media: 'Enough is enough'

Of the 11 deadliest shootings in the US, five have happened from 2007 onward.

That doesn’t include Friday’s shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The AP put the early reported death toll at 27, which would make it the second-deadliest mass shooting in US history.

In 2011, there were 94 murders in Connecticut due to firearms.

For a state-by-state breakdown of crime, check out the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s ‘Uniform Crime Reports.’

Bing: Who owns the most guns in America?

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images/Getty Images

More from MSN Living:
Mom of mentally ill son asks for help
Whether - and what - to tell your kids about this tragedy
How to help your kids feel safe

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Jun 9, 2013 6:32PM
More liberal bloated statistics to attempt to maintain a gun scare.  If someone detonates a bomb immediately the bomber is blamed, let someone fire a weapon and the left wing media and its supporters blame the gun.. The height of intellectual stupidity.  You can successfully educate ignorance,,but stupidity has no cure.
Dec 22, 2012 12:26AM
Firearm homicides and drunk driving fatalities are actually within about 1000 per year of one another.  Install breathalizers in all cars as a requirement to drive regardless of your driving history.

There is also less gun crime now than the late 90s according to the FBI despite the expiration of assault weapon bans.

Explain the contradictions...

Dec 21, 2012 5:38AM

a free people ought not only to be

armed and disciplined, but they should

have sufficient arms and ammunition to

maintain a status of independence from

any who might attempt to abuse them,

which would include their own government.


George Washington

Dec 21, 2012 4:05AM

The media and big govt. types on both sides of the aisle are going to use this to call for more gun control if not an outright ban on firearm ownership. How about summary execution of these depraved individuals that commit this behavior. Some claim they were going to commit suicide but it just doesn't work out for whatever reason. Maybe the idea of taxpayer funded care for the rest of their life while their appeals drag out. It costs more to incarcerate an individual in prison than a lot of hardworking individuals who are free and have families make all year long. That is a travesty. I certainly feel for the victims and their families but the freedom of the American people cannot be discarded or infringed upon because of fear, hysteria and politics. Sen. Feinstein once said if it was up to her every firearm in our great country would be confiscated. Let's hope it's never up to her and her ilk. My nephew and I were shot at for stopping at a red light in a relatively crime free area in broad daylight. After providing police with a description of the vehicle and assailants/occupants they spent approx. 30 minutes asking me what I did do 'deserve this'. By the way what's the murder rate in D.C. , Chicago, and N.Y.C. with some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation?

Dec 21, 2012 3:31AM
You said it all. "Americans believe" and the "powerful gun lobby". Your bias is already showing in the first paragraph. And you don't cite some of your most outrageous statistics, or show them in context with other meaningful statistics, or show the statistics from the FBI, CDC, or NAS that refute the ones you do show. Sadly, it looks like you may actually work for the Brady Campaign, a group started by individuals who suffered a trauma incident involving guns and have been spreading their shrill meme of fear ever since. Or perhaps you are one of the Bloomberg team, who considers all guns not in the hands of government or thugs to be "illegal".
Dec 21, 2012 2:55AM

  Why would one believe that by making gun ownership illegal , you would reduce  violent crime ??


 Isn't violent crime already illegal  ??


  For example...."  Oh , I was going to go out and shoot my neighbor....but I guess I won't because having a gun is illegal ".....does anyone really think that this approach is going to work ???


  These folks are mentally disturbed....that's the real problem....   Let's help them and not just create more "feel good " legislation.....


   This is more a reflection of how we (as a nation) fail to treat our mentally ill than how we control  assault weapons.....

Dec 21, 2012 2:40AM
"In 2011, there were 94 murders in Connecticut due to...."  PEOPLE who killed people with firearms.
Dec 21, 2012 2:17AM
If more people are killed by cars than guns why dont we outlaw cars? Might as well throw in knives,bats,tire irons,rocks,etc.
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