Gun deaths in America by the numbers

Seemingly every time we pick up a newspaper or watch the evening news we are confronted with the tragedies of gun violence.  People use incidents in the news to further whatever their agenda may be.  The Political Left uses the news in an attempt to restrict the liberties of Americans to obtain, possess, and carry firearms.  Conversely, the Political Right takes a different tack by arguing this is even more of a reason to broaden the liberties of law abiding Americans regarding gun rights.  Here are some raw numbers relating to gun deaths.

NOTE: The numbers concerning the total number of homicides, and firearm related homicides differ significantly between the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  I will use total deaths by firearm, and suicide stats from the CDC because I think it can be reasonably argued that the CDC would be able to accurately tabulate those numbers.  However, I will use the FBI numbers as it relates to total homicides, and homicide by weapon because I think it can be reasonably argued that law enforcement agencies likely only report non-justified homicides (i.e., murder) to the FBI, which is the relevant number, whereas the CDC may be using total homicides — justified and un-justified — when totaling numbers.

  • According to the CDC, there were 31,672 deaths by firearms in 2010 — (Table 18/p. 83)
  • 61.2% of firearm related deaths were suicide (19,392).
  • 27.7% of firearm related deaths were homicide (8,775) — FBI Uniform Crime Report Report
  • 68.4% of all firearm related homicides were committed with handguns (6,009).
  • There are more than 100% more homicides committed using hands, fists, feet, and being pushed (745) than using any kind of rifle, (358) including “assault rifles”.
  • There are 971% more homicides committed with non-firearm weapons (3,476) than with any kind of rifle including “assault rifles”.
  • 2.7% of all homicides (12,996) are committed using any kind of rifle including “assault rifles” (358).
  • 15.5% of all homicides (12,996) are are gang related (2,020). — National Gang Center

Virtually all gang murders are carried out with firearms, and the preferred firearm of choice for gang members is a handgun.  If we grant — generously — that 10% of gang related homicides are not committed with a handgun, this means 30.2% of murders committed with handguns are gang related (1818).  I think this is a significant and relevant statistic that is often overlooked.


  1. The argument will be that all these numbers would be lessened without the availability of guns. It is as if it is believed that murders, suicides and accidental deaths would not occur without guns. But let’s concede the numbers will be lessened. The true problem still remains that some people will want to murder, some will want to kill themselves, and accidents will continue to happen where deaths will result. The real target for attention needs to be on the “wants” described and improving awareness that will lead to fewer accidental deaths. In the meantime, honest, law-abiding citizens must still have the means to defend their lives and property.

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