Do murders make up only 17% of gun-related deaths in the United States? No, that's not true: In 2020, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of that total, 43% were attributed to murder, according to a breakdown by the Pew Research Center.
The claims appeared in a Facebook post on April 8, 2021. It opened:
There are 30,000 gun related deaths per year by firearms, and this number is not disputed. U.S. population 324,059,091 as of Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Do the math: 0.00925% of the population dies from gun related actions each year. Statistically speaking, this is insignificant! What is never told, however, is a breakdown of those 30,000 deaths, to put them in perspective as compared to other causes of death:
• 65% of those deaths are by suicide which would never be prevented by gun laws
• 15% are by law enforcement in the line of duty and justified
• 17% are through criminal activity, gang and drug related or mentally ill persons - gun violence
• 3% are accidental discharge deaths
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Jun 6 19:47:52 2022 UTC)
Original post from 2017
The source of the numbers used in this post is unclear, but the details were taken from a June 6, 2017, Facebook post by rock star Ted Nugent.
The most recent year with complete data from the CDC is 2020 when 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the United States. This is how Pew broke down the death toll due to guns:
- 54% - Suicide (24,292 deaths)
- 43% - Murder (19,384)
- 3% - Other, including unintentional (535), involved law enforcement (611) or had undetermined circumstances (400)
Here's their chart for the statistics:
(Source: Pew Research Center screenshot taken on Mon Jun 6 21:38:12 2022 UTC)
The FBI defines murder as the "willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another." In his Facebook post, Nugent used his own definition of gun violence -- "criminal activity, gang and drug related or mentally ill persons" -- to exclude 83% of the gun-related deaths in his unsourced tally.
Nugent's Facebook post went on to say:
So technically, 'gun violence' is not 30,000 annually, but drops to 5,100. Still too many? Well, first, how are those deaths spanned across the nation?• 480 homicides (9.4%) were in Chicago• 344 homicides (6.7%) were in Baltimore• 333 homicides (6.5%) were in Detroit• 119 homicides (2.3%) were in Washington D.C. (a 54% increase over prior years)
So basically, 25% of all gun crime happens in just 4 cities. All 4 of those cities have strict gun laws, so it is not the lack of law that is the root cause.
- Chicago - 692 (3.6%)
- Baltimore - 272 (1.4%)
- Detroit - 290 (1.5%)
- Washington, D.C. - 187 (0.96%)
So, instead of a quarter of all gun crime happening in just four cities, the figure is about 7.4%.