The U.S's Spiraling Gun Problem Explained in 5 Graphs

The House of Representatives passed a new package of gun control measures on Wednesday in a divided vote following recent deadly mass shootings across the country.

The Protect Our Kids Act passed the House by a vote of 223 to 204 in the wake of shootings at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York; an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas; and a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Guns and gun violence are some of the most serious issues facing the United States at the moment as Democrats and Republicans clash over introducing new firearms restrictions amid debates about Second Amendment rights.

The following graphs, provided by Statista, show key information about the gun problem in the U.S.

1. How the U.S. Compares to Other Countries

The graph below shows the number of violent deaths involving a firearm per 100,000 population in the world's largest economies in 2018.

The U.S. had 3.77 such deaths per 100,000 that year, far exceeding the number in peer nations. France came in second place with 0.5 violent deaths involving firearms per 100,000 in 2018, while in Japan the number was just 0.01 per 100,000 population.

Graph Shows Firearms Deaths in Major Economies
A graph shows the number of firearms deaths in major economies in 2018. Statista

2. Murder Weapons

This graph shows the weapons and methods that were most commonly used to commit homicides in the U.S. in 2020, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Firearms were by far the most popular method of murder that year, with guns involved in 13,663 homicides. That figure is significantly higher than the number of murders involving knives or cutting instruments, which stood at 1,739.

The next most-used method was "personal weapons" such as fists, hands and feet, which were responsible for 662 homicides.

Graph Shows Use of Weapons in Murders
A graph shows the weapons commonly used in homicides in 2020. Statista

3. The Rise in Gun Deaths

The graph below shows the rise in U.S. gun deaths since 1999. The number of gun deaths that year was 28,874, but the figures have been on an upward trajectory over the past two decades.

In 2020, the number of gun deaths was 45,221, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It's important to note that deaths due to firearms in this graph include homicides, suicides, unintentional deaths and legal intervention/operations of war, as as well as gun deaths that were undetermined as any of the other categories.

A Graph Shows Rising Gun Deaths
A graph shows the steady rise in gun deaths since 1999. Statista

4. More Gunfire on School Grounds

This graph shows the notable increase in gunfire on the grounds of K-12 schools since 1980 and the number of victims killed in those shootings. It does not yet include information for May or June this year.

The figures show a sharp rise since 1980, when there were fewer than 50 such shootings. There has been a spike since 2018, with the number of shootings on school grounds peaking in 2021 at almost 250.

Graph Shows Shootings on School Grounds
A graph shows the rise in shooting on school grounds since 1980. Statista

5. The Assault Weapons Ban

The final graphs looks at the question of a federal assault weapons ban. A ban was introduced in 1994 and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton, but it expired in September 2004, during the administration of former President George W. Bush.

The ban was in place for 10 years, and the graph compares that decade to 10-year periods before, during and after the ban, showing the number of mass shooting incidents and victims during those periods.

Graph Shows Number of Mass Shootings
A graph shows the number of mass shootings and victims before, during and after the assault weapons ban. Statista

In the decade before the assault weapons ban, there were 16 mass shootings with a total of 125 victims. During the lifetime of the ban, 15 mass shootings took place with a total of 96 deaths.

The decade from 2004 to 1994—after the ban lapsed—saw 35 mass shootings and 296 deaths, while the period from September 2014 to June 2022 saw 41 mass shootings with a total of 429 deaths.

A Pistol Displayed at an NRA Event
Pistols are displayed in the Heritage Manufacturing booth at the 148th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 27, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday that would introduce new gun restrictions. Scott Olson/Getty Images