America’s Dark Truth: The Odds are High that You will Die by a Gun

America's Dark Truth: The Odds that You will Die by a Gun.

Nearly 13,000 people in the US were murdered with firearms in 2015, not including suicides. Yet the US government on Wednesday ended a decades-old restriction on federal research into guns.

Assaults by firearm kill about 13,000 people in the US each year, which translates to a roughly 1-in-315 lifetime chance of death from gun violence. These numbers do not include mass shootings, which are tallied separately.

That’s about 50% more likely than the lifetime risk of dying while riding inside a car, truck, or van. It’s also more than 10 times as high as dying from any force of nature, such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flood, or lightning strike.

These measures suggest Americans are more likely to die from gun violence than the combined risks of drowning, fire and smoke, stabbing, choking on food, airplane crashes, animal attacks, and natural disasters.

Gun violence in the US is now a leading cause of death, according to the CDC.

Most of the data comes from an October 2017 report by the National Safety Council and a November 2017 report by the National Center for Health Statistics on causes of death in the US.

In 2015, some 333 mass shootings left 367 people dead and 1,328 injured, according to their tally. The statistics rose in 2016 to 383 mass shootings, 456 deaths, and 1,537 injuries. In 2017, there were 346 mass shootings that led to 437 deaths and 1,802 injuries.

Although gun violence is one of the leading causes of death in America, it is also one of the most poorly researched, according to a January 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“In relation to mortality rates, gun violence research was the least-researched cause of death and the second-least-funded cause of death after falls,” the study’s authors wrote.

The study ascribed this dearth of research to restrictions — namely an addition to a 1996 congressional appropriations bill called the Dickey Amendment, which stipulated “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

What research has been done has been at private institutions like the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Their study shows a clear connection between gun ownership, gun availability, homicides, and violent death.

A roundup of gun-control and gun-violence studies shows Americans represent less than 5% of the world population, but possess nearly 50% of the world’s civilian-owned guns.

After Congress let a 1994 ban on assault weapons expire in 2004, gun massacre deaths skyrocketed.

Arguments about the exact meaning of “assault weapon” obfuscate an important point: When people in the US were allowed to start buying military-style firearms with high-capacity magazines, the number of people dying in gun massacres shot up.

The number of gun massacre deaths decreased by 43% after the 1994 ban on assault weapons went into effect. After it expired in 2004, it shot up by 239%.

These are the unvarnished facts about America’s dark truth.