Violence

Violence in America

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, we’ve had our eyes glued to screens, staring at a constant stream of numbers. It can be overwhelming, and it’s easy for complicated data to lose meaning. But good data enables us to clearly see the details of America’s gun violence epidemic like nothing else.

Below, we’ve shared some of the facts and figures that stood out from the noise. They highlight the human cost of gun violence, they give us a better understanding of who owns firearms, and they help make sense of the remarkable increase in shootings our nation continues to endure.

Violence in America

The Unrelenting Epidemic of Violence in AmericaTruths and Consequences

693

The number of mass shooting incidents in the United States in 2021.

When defined as four or more people shot, 2021’s total is 13.4 percent higher than 2020. The shootings have claimed 702 lives and injured 2,844 people. Though mass public shootings like the Boulder, Colorado, supermarket shooting; the metro Atlanta spa shootings; and the San Jose transit shooting garnered intense media attention, most mass shootings disproportionately affect Black and brown communities and receive relatively little coverage.

Gun violence is a contemporary global human rights issue. Gun-related violence threatens our most fundamental human right, the right to life.  Gun violence is a daily tragedy affecting the lives of individuals around the world. More than 500 people die every day because of violence committed with firearms.

Violence We’ve All Been Waiting For

What is gun violence?

Gun violence is violence committed with the use of firearms, for example pistols, shotguns, assault rifles or machine guns.

 

How many people die from gun-related violence worldwide?

  • More than 500 people die every day from gun violence
  • 44% of all homicides globally involve gun violence
  • There were 1.4 million firearm-related deaths globally between 2012 and 2016

The majority of victims and perpetrators are young men, but women are particularly at risk of firearms violence perpetrated by an intimate partner. Sexual violence can also be facilitated by firearms.

Gun violence and the right to health

Firearm violence  can undermine people’s right to health. People living in communities with high levels of firearm violence can find it difficult or dangerous to access local health care facilities. The partitioning of neighbourhoods by armed criminal gangs can obstruct access, and frequent official or de facto curfews related to police interventions can close health care services.

In some instances, health-related services may avoid locating in areas of high firearm violence because of issues associated with insecurity and poor staff retention. Essential psychological support for survivors of domestic violence and provision of refuges or other safe accommodation for those leaving violent relationships are often lacking in deprived neighbourhoods blighted by firearm violence.

Gun violence causes a range of health issues throughout affected communities. Lack of day-to-day security can have profound psychological impacts, particularly for those who have witnessed shootings, as well as for family members of victims. The survivors of firearm violence can be left severely and chronically physically and psychologically debilitated, in need of long-term medical and social care.

Gun violence and the right to education

Firearm violence can disrupt the functioning of schools and make students’ journeys to and from school dangerous. Lack of state resources for education and the difficulty of recruiting and retaining teaching staff in neighbourhoods wracked by gun violence have a negative impact, undermining the right to education.

Endemic firearm violence and associated insecurity can have a particularly serious impact on children and adolescents, including by disrupting school attendance and retention, damaging the learning environment, and reducing the quality of teaching. This can in turn lead to poorer life outcomes regarding employment and income, and perpetuate cycles of deprivation, crime and violence.