CLEVELAND – Gun violence directly impacts the lives of one in every 314 Americans, according to a new study by Dr. Edward (Ned) Hill, dean of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.
Dr. Hill's research determined that between 2001 and 2010, 989,023 people in the United States were either killed or wounded by gunfire. During this period, the total number of Americans killed or wounded by firearms was equivalent to nearly five times the total U.S. casualties during the Vietnam War and 92 percent of total U.S. casualties during World War II.
Despite the National Rifle Association's claims that record-high levels of gun ownership do not correspond with increased gun violence, the number of deaths caused by firearms – including not only murders, but also suicides, accidental deaths and deaths due to law enforcement action – has gradually increased since the late 1990s.
"Because of the politically charged rhetoric related to gun ownership and the fog of spin that comes from the gun industry, the facts about gun violence are not obvious to the public," Dr. Hill said. "We need to stem the epidemic of gun violence. People's lives depend on it."
Dr. Hill analyzed data on gunshot deaths, gunshot wounds, gunshot violence rates and related statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among the other key findings of the study:
- 32,000 people are killed by firearms annually in the United States.
- The leading cause of gunshot death is suicide. There are substantial differences in suicide rates across states for which data are available. Suicide rates are much higher in the West and in the South, where a gun-owning culture is prevalent.
- 73,000 people are wounded by firearms annually in the United States.
- Of the nearly 1 million Americans who were killed or wounded by firearms from 2001 to 2010, nearly half of those injured were wounded in an armed assault, 18 percent committed suicide, 12 percent were murdered and 4 percent suffered self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
- "While the National Rifle Association has been attempting to focus the public debate on murders by firearms and on accidental firearms deaths, there are significant public health concerns over suicides and wounds from gunshot attacks," Dr. Hill said. "Extremists, government conspiracy theorists and gun manufacturers should not own this debate. Gun violence is a public health epidemic that cannot be reduced to zero, but it is an epidemic that can be lessened."