For Release: Friday, January 6, 2012
Washington, DC–As gun violence prevention supporters begin holding vigils across America marking the January 8th one-year anniversary of the mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that claimed six lives and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), the Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released More Guns, More Shootings, (vpc.org/studies/moreguns.pdf) a new analysis of fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries showing that the total number of people shot in the United States each year has risen significantly from the beginning of the new century to 2008, the latest year for which complete federal data is available. Between 2000 and 2008, a total of 272,590 people died of gunshot injuries in the United States–an average of 30,288 gun deaths per year, a number shocking by comparison to any other developed country. During that same time period, an estimated 617,488 people suffered nonfatal gunshot injuries in the United States. The total number of people shot in 2008 totaled 110,215–the highest total recorded during the nine-year period surveyed in the analysis.
The analysis explains that “the common focus on gun deaths as a marker to illustrate America’s ‘gun problem’ obscures an alarming trend. The number of persons who suffer nonfatal gunshot injuries–that is, who are shot but do not die–has risen…, this means simply that more people are being shot by guns every year. In other words, America’s gun problem is getting worse, not better. More guns means more shootings.”
Many experts cite advances in emergency services, including implementation of the 911 system and advanced trauma care, as a primary reason that more gunshot victims survive. Many of these survivors, however, suffer extreme, life-altering injuries. The injuries suffered by Representative Giffords offer but one example of the severity of the damage bullets inflict on the human body. In fact, 50 percent of all trauma deaths are secondary to traumatic brain injury such as Representative Giffords suffered, and gunshot wounds to the head caused 35 percent of these. Gunshot wounds also account for about 15 percent of all spinal cord injuries in the United States.
The increasing firepower available on the civilian gun market is also a factor in the number and severity of gun-related deaths and injuries.
“America is paying a very high price for policy decisions made on the local, state and national levels that make increasingly lethal firearms readily available. These numbers make clear that denying America’s gun crisis will not make it go away,” states VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand.