Scope of the Public Health Problem

Injuries and Fatalities

Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in Americans aged 1 to 44 (NCHS, 2012). Firearm-related injury, in particular, is a serious threat to the health of the nation, with direct costs to the victims of violence as well as societal costs to families, friends, and communities. In 2010, there were twice as many nonfatal firearm-related injuries (73,505) as deaths.4,5

Between the years 2000 and 2010, firearm-related suicides significantly outnumbered homicides for all age groups, annually accounting for 61 percent of the more than 335,600 people who died from firearm-related violence in the United States.6,7 The number of public mass shootings of the type that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School accounted for a very small fraction of all firearm-related deaths. Specifically, since 1983 there have been 78 events in which 4 or more individuals were killed by a single perpetrator in 1 day in the United States, resulting in 547 victims and 476 injured persons (Bjelopera et al., 2013).

Although overall crime rates have declined in the past decade and violent crimes, including homicides specifically, have declined in the past 5 years (FBI, 2011a), crime-related deaths involving firearms remain a serious threat. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) Uniform Crime Reporting Program, 68,720 people were murdered in firearm-related violence between 2007 and 2011. During that same time frame, firearms accounted for more than twice as many murders as all other weapons combined (FBI, 2011b). More than two-thirds of victims murdered by a spouse or ex-spouse died as a result of a gunshot wound (Cooper and Smith, 2011). More than 600,000 victims of

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4 NCIPC. 2013. WISQARS nonfatal injury reports: Overall firearm gunshot nonfatal injuries and rates per 100,000—2010, United States, all races, both sexes, all ages (accessed May 1, 2013).

5 NCIPC. 2013. WISQARS injury mortality reports: Overall firearm gunshot nonfatal injuries and rates per 100,000—2010, United States, all races, both sexes, all ages (accessed May 1, 2013).

6 NCIPC. 2013. WISQARS injury mortality reports: Suicide firearm deaths and rates per 100,000—2000-2010, United States, all races, both sexes, all ages (accessed May 1, 2013).

7 NCIPC. 2013. WISQARS injury mortality reports: Firearm deaths and rates per 100,000—2000-2010, United States, all races, both sexes, all ages (accessed May 1, 2013).



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