Firearm homicides in the U.S. occur at a rate nearly 25 times higher than other high-income countries. Similarly, suicide by gun occurs nearly 10 time more than in other high-income countries, according to the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV). Learn more about a Public Health Approach to Prevent Gun Violence through EFSGV.
If the current number of homicides by gun continues at the numbers exhibited in Ohio during the spring/summer of 2020 (when COVID-19 was high) an estimated 1 out of 100 Ohio children will die by gun. This and other findings were part of a research study conducted by Ashwini Sehgal, MD of Case Western Reserve University and published in the May 2020 American Journal of Medicine.
Read the OCAGV report on Ohio gun violence facts, statistics and legislative actions.
Firearm Injury & Deaths
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states “Firearm injuries are a serious public health problem” and shares the following information on gun violence in the U.S.:
- There were 39,707 firearm-related deaths in 2019 (equals an estimated 109 deaths from a firearm every day)
- Six out of every 10 deaths in 2019 were suicides
- 7 out of every 10 injuries requiring medical treatment were firearm-related assaults
- Firearm injuries are among the top five causes for death among residents of the U.S. between the ages of 1 and 64
- Firearm homicide rates are highest among teens and young adults between 15 and 34 years of age
Below are Ohio incident statistics on gun violence for 2020 and 2021, and through March 31, 2022 as reported by the Gun Violence Archive:
Suicide & Guns
In an interview with Craig J. Bryan, author of “Rethinking Suicide: Why Prevention Fails, and How We Can Do Better,” he states that measures taken by others to secure their guns in the home can help prevent a suicide. Bryan is a clinical psychologist and the Stress, Trauma and Resilience Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. In the interview published in October 2021, Craig also discusses suicide by gun and its relationship to easy access to a firearm by someone in mental distress, stating that “adolescents with a mental illness living in a household with a firearm are 3 times more likely to die by suicide.”
“One of the important lessons we’ve learned over the past several years as we do more and more research on firearms suicide is that one of unintended consequences of this heavy focus on the mental illness model of suicide is that it really has created a wedge between the suicide prevention community and the gun-owning community.”
The Ohio Department of Health updates suicide deaths in Ohio regularly through a Preliminary Data Summary. Preliminary data from August 2021 indicate a decrease in Ohio suicides in 2020 compared to the several previous years. However, guns continue to be the primary mechanism used to commit suicide for both men and women.
Suicidal ideation and an elevated risk of having suicidal thoughts is shown to have an association with the current firearm purchasing surge (2020-2021). Study results published in the JAMA Network In October 2021 explore this issue. A conclusion in the study states “Results highlighted that individuals who acquired firearms during the purchasing surge were more likely than other firearm owners and non–firearm owners to have experienced suicidal thoughts. This is particularly true for individuals who purchased a firearm for the first time during the surge period. This illustrates the need to implement policies and interventions that increase safety among firearm purchasers (eg, safe firearm storage) as well as those that promote the acquisition of alternative forms of protection (eg, home alarm systems).”
Note: Resources and information on suicide prevention are available on our Suicide Prevention page
Gun Ownership and Self-Defense
There are an estimated 393 million civilian-held firearms in the U.S. – approximately 120 guns per every 100 people – there are more guns than there are people in the United States (328.2 million population in 2019). The U.S. tops the list of countries throughout the world in terms of gun ownership – the second highest is India, with 71 million civilian-held firearms.
- In 2014, 32.4% of American households had a gun in the home. In 2020, 44% of households in the U.S. had a gun, as reported by Gallup.
- Nearly 66% of gun owners report they own more than one gun, while 29% say they own five or more, according to the Pew Research Center (2019).
The justifiable use of a gun by a private citizen is rare, according to the Violence Policy Center. VPC cites the following regarding firearms and self-defense:
- Only 298 justifiable self-defense homicides were reported in the U.S. in 2017 – but there were 10,380 criminal homicides involving a firearm in that same year.
- In attempted and completed assault incidents from 2014 to 2016, only 1.1 percent of victims of such violent crimes against themselves used a firearm as defense during a personal assault, while only 0.3 percent of intended victims used a firearm to protect their property.
The Giffords Law Center reports that 9 million Americans carry loaded handguns at least once a month – and 3 million of these individuals carry a loaded handgun every day. Giffords further reports that violent crimes were 13% to 15% higher in states with weak concealed carry permitting laws.
According to a November 2017 study on concealed carry laws by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, 30 states and the District of Columbia mandate that anyone who may legally own a handgun under that state’s laws and properly applies for a concealed carry permit, “shall” be issued the permit. Additional requirements vary by state. These are known as “shall issue” or right to carry (RTC) states.
Eight states allow public safety officials to retain some discretion to issue or deny a concealed carry permit, these are called “may issue” states. In twelve states, no permit is required to carry a concealed weapon, these are called “permitless” states. Ohio is a “shall issue” state.
A study published in July 2020 indicates “loose concealed-carry laws are linked to more firearm homicides” – and can “increase a state’s gun homicide rate by 11%.”
Domestic Violence & Guns
The Center for American Progress updated its Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence and Firearms in April 2021. You can read more about domestic violence and intimate partner abuse here.
According to a study by the Violence Policy Center, When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2019 Homicide Data, 58% of female domestic violence homicide victims in 2019 were killed by a gun. The study, released in September 2021, also indicated the following for 2019:
- There were 1,795 females killed by a man in a domestic violence incident.
- Five percent of the number above were under the age of 18 and 13 percent were 65 years of age or older.
- 91 percent of the women knew the man who killed them.
- Of this 91 percent, 62 percent of the women were the spouse or intimate partner of the man.
- The women were most often killed during an argument between them and the offender.
- Of the 1,795 women killed from domestic violence in 2019, 1,166 were White; 501 were Black; 53 were Asian or Pacific Islander; 39 were American Indian or Alaskan Native; and 36 were not identified by race.
Giffords Law Center states “when an abuser has a gun, a domestic violence victim is five times more likely to be killed.” Other statistics include:
- One woman in the U.S. is fatally shot by her abuser every 14 hours.
- Women in the U.S. are 21 times more likely than women in other high-income countries to be killed by a gun.
- About 4.5 million women alive today report that an intimate partner threatened them using a gun.
- In more than half of mass shootings where four or more people were killed, the shooter had killed an intimate partner.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence share the following about domestic violence and COVID-19:
Home is not a safe place for everyone —especially when guns and domestic violence are involved. For individuals who are quarantined with domestic abusers, guns in the home can result in an increase in injuries and fatalities. While social distancing and self-isolating are necessary to mitigate the spread of this virus, we must keep in mind how these measures will affect Americans living with abusers.