Brady Center Facts

PROBLEM: There are too many victims of gun violence because we make it too easy for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons in America.

DID YOU KNOW? In one year on average, almost 100,000 people in America are shot or killed with a gun.

In one year, 31,593 people died from gun violence and 66,769 people survived gun injuries (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)). That includes:

12,179 people murdered and 44,466 people shot in an attack (NCIPC).

18,223 people who killed themselves and 3,031 people who survived a suicide attempt with a gun (NCIPC).

592 people who were killed unintentionally and 18,610 who were shot unintentionally but survived (NCIPC).

Over a million people have been killed with guns in the United States since 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated (Childrens’ Defense Fund, p. 20).

U.S. homicide rates are 6.9 times higher than rates in 22 other populous high-income countries combined, despite similar non-lethal crime and violence rates. The firearm homicide rate in the U.S. is 19.5 times higher (Richardson, p.1).

Among 23 populous, high-income countries, 80% of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States (Richardson, p. 1).

Gun violence impacts society in countless ways: medical costs, costs of the criminal justice system, security precautions such as metal detectors, and reductions in quality of life because of fear of gun violence. These impacts are estimated to cost U.S. citizens $100 billion annually (Cook, 2000).

DID YOU KNOW? Where there are more guns, there are more gun deaths.

An estimated 41% of gun-related homicides and 94% of gun-related suicides would not occur under the same circumstances had no guns been present (Wiebe, p. 780).

Higher household gun ownership correlates with higher rates of homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings (Harvard Injury Control Center).

Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide by a factor of 3 to 5 and increases the risk of suicide with a firearm by a factor of 17 (Kellermann, 1992, p. 467; Wiebe, p. 771).

Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of homicide by a factor of 3 (Kellermann, 1993, p. 1084).

DID YOU KNOW? On the whole, guns are more likely to raise the risk of injury than to confer protection.

A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in a completed or attempted suicide (11x), criminal assault or homicide (7x), or unintentional shooting death or injury (4x) than to be used in a self-defense shooting. (Kellermann, 1998, p. 263).

Guns are used to intimidate and threaten 4 to 6 times more often than they are used to thwart crime (Hemenway, p. 269).

Every year there are only about 200 legally justified self-defense homicides by private citizens (FBI, Expanded Homicide Data, Table 15) compared with over 30,000 gun deaths (NCIPC).

A 2009 study found that people in possession of a gun are 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault (Branas).

DID YOU KNOW? Assaults and suicide attempts with firearms are much more likely to be fatal than those perpetrated with less lethal weapons or means. Removing guns saves lives.

There are five times as many deaths from gun assaults as from knife assaults, where the rates of assault with knives and with guns are similar (Zimring, p. 199).

More than 90 percent of suicide attempts with a gun are fatal (Miller, 2004, p. 626). In comparison, only 3 percent of attempts with drugs or cutting are fatal (Miller, 2004, p. 626).

DID YOU KNOW? Guns can be sold in the United States without a background check to screen out criminals or the mentally ill.

It is estimated that over forty percent of gun acquisitions occur in the secondary market. That means that they happen without a Brady background check at a federally licensed dealer (Cook, p. 26).

Sales from federal firearm licensees (FFLs) require a background check. Sales between individuals, under federal law, do not require a background check. This means that felons can “lie and buy” at gun shows and other places where guns are readily available.

SOLUTION: We need to make it harder for convicted felons, the dangerously mentally ill, and other prohibited persons to obtain guns by implementing strong gun laws and policies that will protect our families and communities from gun violence.


Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Rates of Homicide, Suicide, and Firearm-Related Death Among Children — 26 Industrialized Countries,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 1997, 46(5): 101-105; United Nations Tenth Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, 2005-2006; Australian Institute of Criminology. National Homicide Monitoring Program Annual Report 2006-2007; Home Office Statistical Bulletin, “England / Wales: Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2006/07”; Population References (except England and Wales): Population Reference Bureau, 2006 World Population Data Sheet; Population estimates for England and Wales

Branas et al, “Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault,” American Journal of Public Health, 99(11)(2009), published online ahead of print, Sep 17, 2009

Children’s Defense Fund, Protect Children Not Guns 2009, September 2009

Cook, Philip J, and Jens Ludwig, Gun Violence: The Real Costs, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000

Cook, PJ and J Ludwig, Guns in America: Results of a Comprehensive National Survey on Firearms Ownership and Use, (Washington, DC: Police Foundation, 1996).

Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports, Crime in the United States, 2008, Expanded Homicide Data Table 15 and Table 15

Harvard School of Public Health: Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Homicide – Suicide – Accidents – Children and Women, Boston: Harvard School of Public Health, 2009,

Hemenway, David and Deborah Azrael., “The Relative Frequency of Offensive and Defensive Gun Uses: Results From a National Survey,” Violence and Victims, 15(3) (2000): 257-272

Kellermann, Arthur L. et al., “Injuries and Deaths Due to Firearms in the Home,” Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 45(2) (1998): 263-267

Kellermann, Arthur L. MD, MPH, et al., “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home,” New England Journal of Medicine, 329(15) (1993): 1084-1091

Kellermann, Arthur L. et al., “Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership,” New England Journal of Medicine, 327(7) (1992): 467-472

Miller, Matthew, David Hemenway, Deborah Azrael, “Firearms and Suicide in the Northeast,” Journal of Trauma 57 (2004):626-632. (See also: E. D. Shenassa, S. N. Catlin, S. L Buka, “Lethality of Firearms Relative to Other Suicide Methods: A Population Based Study,” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 57 (2003): 120-124.

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (2008 (deaths) and 2009 (injuries). Calculations by Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Richardson, Erin G., and David Hemenway, “Homicide, Suicide, and Unintentional Firearm Fatality: Comparing the United States With Other High-Income Countries, 2003,” Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, published online ahead of print, June 2010

Wiebe, Douglas J. PhD. “Homicide and Suicide Risks Associated With Firearms in the Home: A National Case-Control Study,” Annals of Emergency Medicine 41 (2003): 771-82.

Zimring, Franklin, and Gordon Hawkins, Crime is not the Problem: Lethal Violence in America, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997

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